Syllabus for Math 5385 --- Spring 2011


Algebraic geometry is the study of polynomial equations and their solution sets. For example, the equation x^2 + y^2 - 1 = 0 determines a circle in the (x,y) plane. When more variables and equations are involved, the solution set may be a complicated set consisting of points, curves, surfaces, and objects of higher dimension. Any set which can be defined by polynomial equations is called an algebraic variety.

Given a variety, one can consider all of the polynomials which are zero on the set. This collection of polynomials is called the ideal of the variety. The ideal is a purely algebraic object while the variety is a geometric one. The interplay between the algebra and the geometry is what makes the subject so interesting. Computer algorithms for analyzing ideals have been developed in the last few decades. Using these, one can study ideals and varieties far too complicated to be worked out "by hand".

The course will introduce the basic ideas of algebraic geometry as well as the computational algorithms. In fact the algorithms can be used to develop some of the theory. In addition, several applications of these ideas will be described.


Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithms (3rd edition), by Cox, Little and O'Shea. This is a very nicely written book which unfortunately contains too much material for one semester. The plan is to cover chapters 1--3 and parts of chapters 4, 5 and 8. Some examples and applications not in the book will also be presented. Here is a link to errata for this edition of the book: Errata for the text


Homework 20%
Midterm Exams 25% each
Final Exam 30%

The homework assignments can be found at the homework link above. For general policy statements about grades and academic honesty, go to: Grading Policy Statement, Student Conduct Statement .

Exam Dates:

 Midterm I Wednesday, February 23
 Midterm II Wednesday, April 6
 Final Exam Monday, May 9, 4-6pm


Examples of how to use some of algorithms the computer algebra system Mathematica will be given. This program is available on most of the computers at the university. You will use the computer on your own for some of the homework problems. The link below leads to a Mathematica notebook illustrating some of the basic commands. Mathematica Introduction