number fields with no unramified extensions? - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-19T01:33:16Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/41219 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/41219/number-fields-with-no-unramified-extensions number fields with no unramified extensions? profileskribet 2010-10-05T22:50:53Z 2010-10-06T11:22:09Z <p>Asked by a colleague: Do we believe that there are an infinite number of number fields that have no unramified extensions? The rational field Q is the most salient example of such a field, and a couple of others are known. But what is conjectured, and what is the philosophy here?</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/41219/number-fields-with-no-unramified-extensions/41227#41227 Answer by Cam McLeman for number fields with no unramified extensions? Cam McLeman 2010-10-06T02:40:17Z 2010-10-06T11:22:09Z <p>The question itself is certainly still open. Mostly as an exercise for myself, I'll coalesce my comments above into an answer, and add in some details about where various pieces of the philosophy come from. </p> <p>The starting point is the following philosophy:</p> <blockquote> The ring of integers in any number field with sufficiently small root discriminant admits no non-trivial unramified extensions. </blockquote> <p>This philosophy can occasionally be made precise. For example, Yamamura uses tables of root discriminant bounds from Diaz y Diaz to conclude that for a quadratic imaginary number field $K$ of discriminant $|d|\leq 499$ (or $|d|\leq 2003$ under GRH), the maximal unramified extension of $K$ is a finite extension. This is particularly relevant since each of these maximal unramified extensions clearly has the property that you ask about, that they themselves admit no unramified extensions.</p> <p>The bad news is that the set of number fields with sufficiently small root discriminant to apply these results (at least, without a tremendous of extra effort analyzing carefully constructed extensions) is finite. In particular, results of Odlyzko imply that that there are only finitely many number fields with root discriminant less than $4\pi e^\gamma\approx 22.3$, where $\gamma$ is the Euler-Mascheroni constant (yeah, that Euler-Mascheroni constant!). Under GRH, this remains true for the larger bound $8\pi e^\gamma$. In fact, as a nice concrete factoid to hold on to, Jones and Roberts have shown that there are exactly 7063 <em>abelian</em> number fields with root discriminant under $8\pi e^\gamma$, and sort these according to their Galois group.</p> <p>Back to good news: So we now ask ourselves whether or not these numbers $4\pi e^\gamma$ and $8\pi e^\gamma$ can be improved. The answer is a definite yes. If we partition number fields based on their proportion of real and complex embeddings, we can get improvements on fields with increased proportion of complex embeddings, up to an improvement factor of $e$ for totally complex number fields. Further, since Odlyzko's argument stems from work of Stark estimating values of $L$-functions, it seems plausible to believe there are analytic improvements to be made as well. So maybe we can keep pushing these bounds higher and higher, enough so that we find infinitely many number fields with smaller root discriminant.</p> <p>More bad news: There's an inherent limit to how good we can make these bounds, coming from the study of class field towers. (Okay, so this is actually really good news for those of us who like to study class field towers, but I digress...) Namely, since root discriminants are unchanged when moving up an unramified extension, fields with an infinite class field tower provide a stopping point for any claim of the form "there are finitely many number fields with root discriminant less than such-and-such bound." This is also something that can be partitioned by proportion of real and complex embeddings, and it's been a hot topic recently to see how limited these Odlyzko-type bounds can get. Recently, Hajir and Maire have further refined this line of thought by considering towers of number fields with tame ramification.</p> <p>So, long story short, from this point of view, the big unknown is whether, once we know optimal bounds on root discriminants, whether or not there will be infinitely many number fields with root discriminants less than that bound. Of course, there's also the possibility that there are other techniques for proving that a number field has no unramified extensions that do not go through root discriminants -- perhaps a form of non-abelian class field theory can come to the rescue, as abelian class field theory can address only the weaker (but still open and fantastically interesting) question of fields with no <em>abelian</em> unramified extensions. </p>