Algebra II

Spring Semester 2022

Instructor: Matt Kerr
Office: Cupples I, Room 114
e-mail: matkerr [at]
(Zoom) Office Hours: 3-3:50pm M, 8-8:50pm W (Zoom), 3-3:50 F

Course Outline:

Algebraic number rings (review, from part III of Algebra I notes)
I. Galois Theory (see below)
III. Representation Theory (see below)
IV. Commutative Rings (see below)

This is the second half of a year-long course which forms the basis for the Ph.D. qualifying examination in algebra.

Prerequisites: Math 5031, or permission of the instructor.

Class Schedule:

Lectures are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 2-2:50 PM, in Cupples I Room 113. (Our first two weeks, however, are on Zoom.) First class is Wednesday Jan. 19 and last class is Friday Apr. 29; Spring Break is March 13-19.

Midterm Exam: Take-home, due Thursday March 24 (in lieu of HW)
Final Exam: TBA


These will be due, via PDF upload to Canvas, on Thursdays at 5pm. Solutions will also be posted on Canvas and may include students' work. I encourage you to visit my office hours to discuss problem sets, and to form study groups to discuss the more difficult problems (though solutions must be written up independently).

This is, of course, a "proof course". Please write your solutions legibly, linearly, logically and concisely, in complete sentences with proper mathematical grammar, and cite the results you use ("by Proposition (1.2.3) in the lecture notes/Jacobson, it follows that ..."). In addition, make sure to document any ideas that come from another text, person, or online source.

Problem Set 1 (due Thursday Jan. 27)
Problem Set 2 (due Thursday Feb. 3)
Problem Set 3 (due Thursday Feb. 10)
Problem Set 4 (due Thursday Feb. 17)
Problem Set 5 (due Thursday Feb. 24)
Problem Set 6 (due Thursday Mar. 3)
Problem Set 7 (due Thursday Mar. 10)
Problem Set 8 (due Thursday Mar. 31)
Problem Set 9 (due Thursday Apr. 7)
Problem Set 10 (due Thursday Apr. 14)
Problem Set 11 (due Thursday Apr. 21)
Problem Set 12 (due Thursday Apr. 28)

Grader: Xiaojiang Cheng

Lecture Notes:

I will follow the notes below, which will serve as our primary text, supplemented by the Jacobson book (see below). We will begin with a review of Algebraic Number Rings from part III of my Algebra I notes, available at this link, and we will mostly skip Part II (on Linear Algebraic Groups) below.

I. Galois Theory
A. Field extensions
B. Constructible points
C. Splitting fields
D. Algebraic closures
E. Multiple roots
F. Separable, normal, and Galois extensions
G. Automorphisms and fixed fields
H. Finite fields
I. Simple extensions
J. Solvable groups and radical extensions
K. Discriminants, cubics, and quartics
L. Higher degree
M. Norms and traces
N. Transcendental extensions
II. Linear algebraic groups
A. Bilinear forms
B. Zoology of classical groups
C. Symplectic groups
D. Quadratic forms and orthogonal groups
E. Hermitian forms and unitary groups
III. Representation theory
A. Semisimple modules and rings
B. Artin-Wedderburn theorem
C. Semisimple algebras
D. Characters of representations
IV. Commutative rings
A. Localization
B. Chain conditions
C. Primes and radicals
D. Primary decomposition
E. Nakayama's lemma
F. Ring extensions
G. Affine varieties


Nathan Jacobson, Basic Algebra I (2nd Ed.); Dover

is the recommended textbook. We will in large part follow it and use exercises from it for the treatment of Galois theory and bilinear forms (but not for the later parts of the course).

There are many other excellent standard texts, including

D.J.H. Garling, A Course in Galois Theory; Cambridge Univ. Press,

Thomas Hungerford, Algebra; Springer-Verlag,

Serge Lang, Algebra; Springer-Verlag,


Joseph Rotman, Advanced Modern Algebra; Prentice-Hall.

Grading Policy:

Your final grade for the semester is determined as follows: HW 40%, midterm 20%, final exam 40%. I will drop the lowest two grades you receive on homework.

Homework and examination grades will be regularly updated on Canvas.

Grades are typically curved in a course like this but will never be less than the following scale:

A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D F
TBA 90+ [85,90) [80,85) [75,80) [70,75) [65,70) [60,65) [55,60) [50,55) [0,50)

If you are a graduate student, a letter grade of B is required to pass; if you are an undergraduate taking this class Pass/Fail, you must earn a C- to pass.

The Washington University academic integrity policies are here. All work submitted under your name is expected to be your own; please make sure to document any ideas that come from another source.