Selmer group

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In arithmetic geometry, the Selmer group, named in honor of the work of Ernst Sejersted Selmer (1951) by John William Scott Cassels (1962), is a group constructed from an isogeny of abelian varieties.

The Selmer group of an isogeny[edit]

The Selmer group of an abelian variety A with respect to an isogeny f : A → B of abelian varieties can be defined in terms of Galois cohomology as

where Av[f] denotes the f-torsion of Av and is the local Kummer map . Note that is isomorphic to . Geometrically, the principal homogeneous spaces coming from elements of the Selmer group have Kv-rational points for all places v of K. The Selmer group is finite. This implies that the part of the Tate–Shafarevich group killed by f is finite due to the following exact sequence

0 → B(K)/f(A(K)) → Sel(f)(A/K) → Ш(A/K)[f] → 0.

The Selmer group in the middle of this exact sequence is finite and effectively computable. This implies the weak Mordell–Weil theorem that its subgroup B(K)/f(A(K)) is finite. There is a notorious problem about whether this subgroup can be effectively computed: there is a procedure for computing it that will terminate with the correct answer if there is some prime p such that the p-component of the Tate–Shafarevich group is finite. It is conjectured that the Tate–Shafarevich group is in fact finite, in which case any prime p would work. However, if (as seems unlikely) the Tate–Shafarevich group has an infinite p-component for every prime p, then the procedure may never terminate.

Ralph Greenberg (1994) has generalized the notion of Selmer group to more general p-adic Galois representations and to p-adic variations of motives in the context of Iwasawa theory.

The Selmer group of a finite Galois module[edit]

More generally one can define the Selmer group of a finite Galois module M (such as the kernel of an isogeny) as the elements of H1(GK,M) that have images inside certain given subgroups of H1(GKv,M).


  • Cassels, John William Scott (1962), "Arithmetic on curves of genus 1. III. The Tate–Šafarevič and Selmer groups", Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, Third Series, 12: 259–296, doi:10.1112/plms/s3-12.1.259, ISSN 0024-6115, MR 0163913
  • Cassels, John William Scott (1991), Lectures on elliptic curves, London Mathematical Society Student Texts, 24, Cambridge University Press, doi:10.1017/CBO9781139172530, ISBN 978-0-521-41517-0, MR 1144763
  • Greenberg, Ralph (1994), "Iwasawa Theory and p-adic Deformation of Motives", in Serre, Jean-Pierre; Jannsen, Uwe; Kleiman, Steven L. (eds.), Motives, Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society, ISBN 978-0-8218-1637-0, MR 1265554
  • Selmer, Ernst S. (1951), "The Diophantine equation ax3 + by3 + cz3  = 0", Acta Mathematica, 85: 203–362, doi:10.1007/BF02395746, ISSN 0001-5962, MR 0041871