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A learning roadmap for algebraic geometry

I am a masters student and I want to study algebraic geometry. Does there exist good good book for selfstudy of algebraic geometry?

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marked as duplicate by Cam McLeman, Martin Brandenburg, Steve Huntsman, Andy Putman, Daniel Moskovich Oct 17 '10 at 18:45

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Based on what prior knowledge? (Not all master's degrees have the same starting or finishing level) – Yemon Choi Oct 17 '10 at 10:17
Look also at these MO-questions:… and… – Peter Arndt Oct 17 '10 at 12:14
Very similar questions have been asked here before. If this question stays open it should at least be made community wiki. – Grétar Amazeen Oct 17 '10 at 12:16
The title could be more specific. :) – Gjergji Zaimi Oct 17 '10 at 12:35
This has been definitely asked before on MO. – Martin Brandenburg Oct 17 '10 at 15:34
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Reid's book recommended above (below,depending on your perspective) is certainly your best bet for a ground floor introduction. An older resource that's certainly worth checking out is William Fulton's Algebraic Curves.

In connection with Fulton's book,a new resource has recently popped up online that we ALL need to check out and I'm hoping to turn all math majors and graduate students on to it: Last year at MIT, Micheal Artin taught a basic course in algebraic geometry from Fulton's book using only his own course in algebra as prequisites. Artin composed a detailed set of lecture notes and posted most of them in PDF. I'm really hoping one day he turns them into a book-and if it becomes a widely-used resource on the web,he just might. The course and these materials,including a PDF downloadable version of Fulton's book,can be found at The fact that Artin is actively seeking email feedback and corrections on the notes strongly suggests he's at least considering turning them into a book-the more feedback he gets,the greater likelihood this will occur. So please-everyone find time to do this,particularly the algebracists and algebraic geometers in here!

More difficult but still very accessible, is the 2 volume second edition of Shafaravich's Algebraic Geometry text.The text is very rigorous,yet very concrete-it has many pictures and examples and builds to the language of schemes rather then throwing the student immediately into these very deep waters. Most of the initial focus is on the "classical" geometry of curves and varieties.

At this point,most people would recommend the classic by Hartshorne,which has given 2 generations of graduate students nightmares.It IS as difficult as people say,but it's very well written and if you're serious about AG,sooner or later,you have to read it. You should be ready to try it after Shafaravich and a good course in commutative algebra (a la Atiyah/MacDonald or Eisenbud).

But before you break your head on that book,there's 2 other options at roughly the same level I'd recommend first. First is Mumford's The Red Books Of Varieties And Schemes.This is a very visual yet abstract treatment that I think you'll find much easier going,even though it doesn't cover as much. You'll definitely find Hartshorne a lot easier after Mumford.

The other resource I'd recommend is still very much a work in progress,but it's so beautiful and wonderfully written,i'd be remiss in not recommending it. It's Ravi Vakil's lecture notes, now in thier 2nd or 3rd version of the increasingly popular course he's teaching at Stanford. They can be found in thier most recent iteration at his blog;earlier versions can be found posted at his webpage. I think eventually these notes-after a few more years of polishing-will supercede everything else for graduate students on modern algebraic geometry. They are almost "Hartshorne Explained".They also contain so many insights,it's incredible. Take at look at them,please. You'll thank me later.

That should get you started-good luck!

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Just to clarify: the Shafarevich's book Andrew means is called Basic Algebraic Geometry. – mathphysicist Oct 17 '10 at 14:19
Thanks,math. Should have clarified. – The Mathemagician Oct 17 '10 at 19:31
I have to disagree that Hartshorne "is as difficult as people say". I am not saying it is not difficult; however, I have seen people saying on the internet that "it takes hours to understand some exercises in Hartshorne". After reading comments such as this, I decided not to learn algebraic geometry from Hartshorne. (I used Liu.) However, a few weeks ago I picked up Hartshorne, interested to see why it is considered difficult, and I have to say that it is not as difficult as some people say. There are hard exercises but it would not be an exaggeration to say that most are do-able ... – Amitesh Datta Jun 3 '11 at 7:09
I hasten to emphasize, however, that there are difficult exercises in Hartshorne; but it certainly is not true that *most" (or even a reasonable portion) of the exercises are "hard". Furthermore, Hartshorne does explain some proofs (at least in the part that I have read thus far) in at least as much detail as Liu. The moral is (at least in my view) that one should read Hartshorne and, if one is stuck, one should refer to other texts (on algebraic geometry). I have heard that EGA is a good supplementary source. – Amitesh Datta Jun 3 '11 at 7:18

There is no easy way into Algebraic Geometry as this is one of the most imressive mathematical machineries ever created. Make yourself a favour and start reading one of the two mainstream books: Hartshorne or Griffiths-Harris. Some russians would recommend Shafarevich instead, which is also a great book...

There are further great books if you are interested only in one aspect of algebraic geometry (curves or algebraic groups). In fact, learning Algebraic Curves first may be the best strategy for you. I don't know them very well but you may try Kirwan...

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As an introductory book, I will recommend Karen Smith's(plus some other's) book "An invitation to Algebraic geometry". It is very well wrtitten.

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In addition to the excellent text by K. Smith et al. recommended above, you could consider the book

Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithms by David A. Cox, John B. Little and Don O'Shea

which is very accessible, and some older texts which are more elementary and (therefore) quite readable, e.g.

-- Rudiments of algebraic geometry by William Elliott Jenner

-- Introduction to algebraic curves by Phillip A. Griffiths

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As a warm up I recommend looking at Miles Reid's book Undergraduate Algebraic Geometry

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Good book but maybe not for Masters... – Bugs Bunny Oct 17 '10 at 7:34
Shigeru Mukai, An introduction to invariants and moduli, Cambridge Studies in Adv. Math. 81, starts with very little abstract machinery, while being rich with lucidly treated examples, and exposition to the point. It starts at undergraduate level and finishes with modern and nontrivial moduli questions like Verlinde formula. For more theoretical and technical foundations, after that example-oriented book, one could try a clearly written recent book by Amnon Neeman, Algebraic and analytic geometry, London Math. Soc. Lec. Note Series 345. – Zoran Skoda Oct 17 '10 at 15:38

Hartshorne. (It even has its own Wikipedia page!)

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I wouldn't recommend Hartshorne at the master level. – mathphysicist Oct 17 '10 at 13:25
That is a nice joke!! – Dmitri Oct 17 '10 at 16:23

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