We can informally describe algebraic geometry as the geometry of curves and surfaces defined by polynomial equations. In this course the emphasis is on concrete computations with polynomials using computer packages and on the interplay between algebra and geometry. Abstract algebra will be presented as needed; the only algebra prerequisite is sophomore level linear algebra. The other required prerequisite is multivariable calculus -- Math 2263 or Math 2374 or equivalent.

More specifically, the course will be based on the book *Ideals,
Varieties and Algorithms,*by Cox, Little, and O'Shea. In one semester
we can cover the first four chapters. If we study a fairly minimal number
of proofs, we'll also have time for part of either chapter 5 or chapter 8.
The course should be accessible to students with a reasonably solid background
from sophomore level mathematics. We'll start by introducing some basic stuff
about affine varieties -- particularly curves in **R**² and surfaces and curves
in **R**³. We'll mention briefly the parallel concepts in **C**²
and **C**³. This leads to discussion of the algebraic concept of
*polynomial ideals.* We will use suitable graphics software to help with
visualization of implicitly defined curves. From time to time
the class will meet in a math department computer lab, to learn how to use this
and other software. Previous experience with Matlab, Maple, or Mathematica can
be helpful, but *is not required.*

Our software tools also can be used for visualizing surfaces in **R**³.
We'll have only a limited amount to time to work with that topic, but at least a brief
introduction will be given.

The method of *Groebner bases* provides an effective method to
determine whether a polynomial is an element of a given ideal. This can be
viewed as the multivariable analogue of long division of polynomials in one
variable. Among other things, it leads to an algorithm for solving systems of
polynomial equations. This algorithm can be viewed as a far-reaching
generalization of the method of Gaussian elimination from linear algebra.

Computations will be done by hand at first, but then we will learn how to use a computer algebra package -- Maple -- to study more interesting examples. We will then apply Groebner basis methods to study other topics, such as projections of varieties, finding the implicit equations of a variety given in parametric form, and finding the singular points of a variety.

After developing some proficiency with computational methods, we will apply them to develop some introductory parts of the theory of algebraic geometry. At the end of the semester, we'll have a short introduction to either projective algebraic geometry [chapter 8] or polynomial and rational functions on a variety [chapter 5].

** In summary:** at the beginning we will assume knowledge only of
sophomore level linear algebra and polynomials in several variables, including
partial derivatives. Treating the subject in a fairly concrete way and moving
forward systematically from this starting point, we will reach a level where
students can understand some of the theory in algebraic geometry. Appropriate
instruction about the computer tools will be provided -- including
online
help pages developed for this course, starting in the Fall Semester of 2000.

* Info for math majors:* Math 5385 is on the Algebra List for the
Upper Division
Math Requirements, actually being listed in the Column X portion of the
list.

** For further information:** Please
send me an e-mail, or call me
at the phone number listed below,

or visit the class homepage (

Prof. Joel Roberts

School of Mathematics

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 55455

USA

Office: 351 Vincent Hall

Phone: (612) 625-1076

Dept. FAX: (612) 626-2017

e-mail: `
roberts@math.umn.edu`
`
http://www.math.umn.edu/~roberts`