Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In EGA IV Grothendieck introduced notion of constructible topology. Is it only interesting gadget or can it be use for some practical purposes in algebraic geometry?

share|improve this question
There is nothing in EGA that has been introduced just because it's cute. –  Angelo Jan 25 '13 at 11:47
I don't know if this question will survive, but I'll admit that, as a non-expert who's never really had occasion to work with constructible sets, this is something I've been idly curious about on a handful of occasions. I'd like to hear the short version of why they're useful and maybe see a quick example or two. –  Ramsey Jan 25 '13 at 15:01
Are you wondering if it is introduced in EGA for more than putting pro- and ind-constructible sets into a systematic framework (which is does)? There are lots of important results in IV$_3$ concerning openness and constructibility of various loci, as well as pulling down results from "limit objects", and those proofs use pro- and ind-constructibility in very creative ways (e.g., via 1.9.11 and 1.9.12; also see 1.10). Any way to better understand fundamental concepts is always a good thing. Also see 1.9.16, now obsolete. More recently, these concepts are relevant to adic spaces...and so on. –  user30180 Jan 25 '13 at 15:02
Very briefly, to prove openness results on the base one first proves constructibility results on the base (often by deducing it from constructibility on the source and applying Chevalley's theorem on images of constructible sets) and then uses specialization criteria for constructible sets to be open. But how to prove the constructibility? Sometimes it can be done "by hand", but Grothendieck never argues by hand when there is a more conceptual viewpoint to unify many results by a common technique. Hence the usefulness of 1.9.11 and 1.9.12. Read IV$_3$ sections 9 and 12. –  user30180 Jan 25 '13 at 15:06
Together with its constructible topology, the spectrum of $k[X_1,...,X_n]$ is homeomorphic to the space of $n$-types with parameters in $k$ (in the sense of model theory) for the first-order theory ACF. (If $a\in K^n$, where $K$ is an overfield of~$a$, send its type $\mathrm{tp}(a)$ to the prime ideal of polynomials vanishing at $a$). Two apparently (but only apparently) distinct worlds in which the same object is defined... –  ACL Mar 25 '13 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

In Hochster's paper 'Prime Ideal Structure in Commutative Rings' the author uses it to characterize spectral spaces. This in turn is used in Huber's work on Adic spaces, cf. 'Huber - Étale cohomology of Rigid Analytic Varieties and Adic Spaces' and 'Scholze - Perfectoid spaces'.

share|improve this answer
If I remember correctly, Hochster wrote his thesis on spectral spaces (with Shimura as "advisor"...) solely out of idle curiosity about the nature of the lattice of prime ideals in a general ring (e.g., the fact that the underlying topological space of the scheme $\mathbf{P}^7_{\mathbf{Q}}$ is also the underlying topological space of the spectrum of a ring is not something for which he had a use in mind). He was very surprised to hear from time to time afterwards that others found these results to be useful, since he never used them in his later work. –  user30180 Jan 25 '13 at 15:41
@pz Can you explain where spectral spaces are used in the theory of Adic spaces? I mean, I know that Huber proved that adic spaces are spectral (maybe with some conditions), but I always thought that he did this just to give an idea of how to visualize the topology on the adic spaces (in contrast with Berkovich spaces that have a "real" topology) and not to prove anything about adic spaces. –  Ricky Jan 25 '13 at 17:36
@Ricky I think you are right. Huber uses spectral spaces in some proofs, but I think he doesn't do anything with them that could not be done without them. They are afaik not crucial to the theory of adic spaces. –  user26756 Jan 25 '13 at 18:21

Julien Sebag tells me that the constructible topology is useful for the study of the Grothendieck ring of varieties. More precisely, it is relevant to the following question: "if $k$ is a field and $X$ is a $k$-variety with a birational endomorphism $X--\to X$inducing an isomorphism between open subsets $U$ and $V$, are $X\setminus U$ and $X\setminus V$ piecewise isomorphic? You may read about this in this paper.

Another place where the constructible topology is essential is in motivic integration, where constructible sets play the role of the measurable sets of usual integration theory.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.