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Leonid Lerner*

Abstract

Galois theory is developed using elementary polynomial and group algebra. The method

follows closely the original prescription of Galois, and has the benefit of making the

lower degree polynomials, and the standard result of the insolubility in radicals of the

general quintic and above. This is augmented by the presentation of a general solution in

radicals for all polynomials when such exist, and illustrated with specific cases. A

method for computing the Galois group and establishing whether a radical solution exists

is also presented.

1. Introduction

One is frequently required to solve polynomial equations in the natural sciences [1]. For

example, the normal mode frequencies of coupled oscillators, such as the masses on a

spring shown in Fig, 1a, are the roots of the matrix eigenvalue equation

*Email: leonid.lerner@flinders.edu.au

m 2 2k k 0 ..

k m 2k

2

k ..

0. (1)

0 k m 2 2k ..

.. .. .. ..

system, Fig. 1b, reduce to polynomials whose roots are propagation constants and energy

eigenvalues respectively

E E1 C12 C13 ..

*

C E E2 C 23 ..

12

0. (2)

*

C

13

*

C 23 E E3 ..

.. .. .. ..

For constant coupling, Eqs. (1-2) are polynomial equations with degree determined by the

number of coupled systems. It is well known that for completely arbitrary coefficients

solutions in radicals, meaning expressions of the type shown in Table 1, exist only for

# Expression

1 Aa B

2

Aa B b C A a

B C

b

3

Aa B b C c D A a

Bb C c

D A a

b

c

B C D A a

b

B Cc D

2

For higher degrees, radical solutions exist only in specific cases, but there are some

general solutions in special functions [2]. The reason for this lies in Galois Theory, but

the details are mostly unfamiliar to those outside of pure mathematics due to the theorys

extensive use of abstract algebra. Indeed, it is generally acknowledged that the intricate

structure of the modern theory makes it hard to grasp in its entirety, and it is therefore

It may therefore come as a surprise that the work of Galois, published in a posthumous

memoir in 1846 [4], is almost entirely devoid of the abstractness of modern Galois

Theory. Indeed, the bulk of the modern approach is based largely on later work [5],

which starting from the original framework of Galois, put the theory on a more rigorous

footing, and widened its scope. For this reason current elementary presentations of Galois

theory at the technical level [5-8], use an extensive amount of abstract algebra. The

more accustomed to algebraic operations on polynomials and group elements, and thus

potentially able to appreciate the theory based on the original approach of Galois. Galois'

memoir [4, 8], despite its ultimate simplicity, is quite hard to follow, due to some gaps in

the presentation (for which it was rejected by the Paris Academy in 1830). However by

filling in the gaps a fairly complete picture emerges (some of this has already been

Galois Theory, based on the original approach of Galois, which can act as an introduction

for those who want to appreciate the theory at a technical level with the minimum effort.

It goes without saying, that the simplicity and conciseness of the present treatment comes

3

at the cost of some rigour in places, compared to modern Galois Theory. However such

omissions can be made rigorous. The interested reader is referred to the many excellent

The essence of Galois theory lies in a procedure it gives for associating a given

polynomial equation with a group corresponding to the symmetry of its roots (the Galois

group). It turns out that solutions expressible in radicals, examples of which are shown in

Table 1, satisfy polynomials with groups of a particular type. One can then investigate the

group of a given equation to see if it belongs to this type. If it does, Galois theory

provides a method for solving it, if it does not, no solution in radicals can be obtained at

all. The Galois group of an n-degree polynomial with arbitrary coefficients is the

The outline of this paper is as follows. At the outset elementary symmetric polynomials

and the theorem of symmetric polynomials is introduced, providing a natural entry to the

Galois Group. A unified way to solve 2 nd, 3rd, and 4th degree polynomials is then

developed bearing a close correspondence to these group ideas. Since the method breaks

down at 5th degree polynomials the question arises as to whether another method exists.

To this end the concept of an irreducible polynomial is introduced and some of its

4

subgroups by the adjunction of solutions of x p A . Moreover such a splitting

corresponds exactly to the method by which the lower degree polynomials were solved,

and therefore if a radical solution exists, it must proceed along the same lines. It is then

shown that S 5 , the Galois group of the general 5 th degree polynomial, can not be split in

solvable higher degree polynomial is then presented, its Galois group is calculated and

shown to split in the required fashion. Galois theory is then used to derive its radical

solution.

Galois work was preceded by the Abel-Ruffini proof of the insolubility in radicals of 5th

degree polynomials [5, 8]. This proof is both more elaborate and more restrictive than

Definition 2.1. The elementary symmetric polynomials i (r1 ..rn ) in n variables are

obtained by equating coefficients in the linear factorization and the power expansion of a

5

( x r1 )( x r2 ) x 2 1 x 2

1 r1 r2 (3)

2 r1r 2

( x r1 )( x r2 )( x r3 ) x 3 1 x 2 2 x 3

1 r1 r2 r3

(4)

2 r1 r2 r1 r3 r2 r3

3 r1 r2 r3

1 ri

i

2 r r

i j

i j

(5)

3 r r r

i j k

i j k

...

It follows that all i (r1 ..rn ) can be rationally expressed in terms of i (r1 ..rn1 ) and the

extra variable rn . Denoting i (r1 ..rn1 ) by 1 .. n1 for clarity, Eq. (5) gives

1 rn 1

2 rn 1 2

3 rn 2 3 (6)

.. ..

n rn n 1

The reverse is also true, and 1 .. n1 can be rationally expressed in terms of 1 .. n and

rn . Starting from the first line of Eq. (6), 1 1 rn , and this can be substituted into the

6

2.2 Fundamental theorem of symmetric polynomials

Proposition 2.1 Every symmetric polynomial f (r1 ..rn ) can be rationally expressed as a

There is a simple proof by induction. Assume the proposition is valid for polynomials in

But this means that rn is a root of f g and hence divides f g . Then by symmetry so

f (r1 ..rn ) g ( 1 .. n )

f 1 (r1 ..rn ) . (8)

r1 ..rn

The new polynomial f 1 is clearly symmetric, and of lower degree than f . We can now

repeat the procedure of Eqs. (7-8) on f 1 , lowering the degree until at some iteration we

must achieve f n g since there are no symmetric polynomials of lower degree then the

Example

7

r

1

4

r24 (r1 r2 ) 4

r2 0

0. (9)

4(r12 r22 ) 10r1 r2 . (10)

r1 r2

In the previous section we showed that any function of the roots of a polynomial

invariant under all permutations of these roots is known in terms of the polynomial

coefficients, in the sense that Eqs. (7-8) provide a procedure for calculating it. We can

Definition 2.2. The Galois group of a polynomial is the maximum group of permutations

under which any function of its roots must be invariant, for it to be a known function of

The group property arises because if the result of two permutations, say r1 r2 and

section showed that if the polynomial coefficients are completely arbitrary, invariance

under all permutations of the roots is sufficient for a function to be known. This is also

combinations of symmetric functions unless some other relations exist between the roots.

8

The Galois group of an arbitrary polynomial of degree n , is therefore the permutation

group of n objects, S n . Making the polynomial less general, for instance by specifying

the coefficients such that there exist rational relations between its roots, may make the

Galois group smaller. A method for calculating the Galois group is given in Section 4.

Best known are expressions for the roots of quadratic equations, obtained by completing

the square. Here it is more convenient to think in terms of symmetric polynomials. Thus

the functions

1 r1 r2 , t 2 (r1 r2 ) 2 , (12)

are symmetric under all permutations of the roots (the Galois group of the quadratic is

S 2 ), and are therefore known. Moreover, the roots r1 , r2 are linearly related to these

r1 , r2 ( 1 t ) / 2 . (13)

r1 , r2 1 ( 12 4 2 )1/ 2 / 2 , (14)

The key to solving the quadratic was finding a power of a linear combination of the roots

invariant under S 2 , called a resolvent. In Eq. (12) the coefficients in the resolvent are

9

the square roots of unity, 2 1 . For the cubic x 3 ax 2 bx c 0 , it is therefore

Since cyclically permuting the roots ri in either of the expressions for t13 or t 23 multiplies

t1 or t 2 by a cube root of unity, both t13 and t 23 are invariant under the permutations of the

cyclic group, Z 3 . However unlike the quadratic, this is insufficient for them to be known,

S3

Z3 Z 3' (16)

1,2,3 g (1,2) 2,1,3

2,3,1 1,3,2

3,1,2 3,2,1

The symmetry of t13 and t 23 is intermediate between that of the roots (no symmetry), and

S 3 required for a function to be known. We can put this increased symmetry to use by

observing that symmetric combinations of t13 and t 23 are invariant under permutations of

both Z 3 and Z 3' , and are therefore known. In particular, we can calculate t13 t 23 and

(t13 t 23 ) 2 in terms of the roots using Eq. (15), and then use Eqs. (7-8) to relate these to

10

Equation (17) is easily solved for t13 and t 23 . Extracting the cube roots gives us the

resolvents t1 and t 2 , which are linearly related to the roots through Eq. (15). The cubic is

thus solved.

Group S 3 consists of two presentations (or cosets) of the cyclic subgroup Z 3 and Z 3' ,

linked by the permutation g (1,2) . The permutation n (1,2,3) applied to any element

of either coset generates all its other elements, so that g is a generator of Z 3 , which is

g

thus Abelian. The elements of Z 3' in Eq. (16) are ordered by Z 3 Z 3' , which differs

from the order in which they are generated by n (1,2,3) , so g and n do not commute,

element of N , i.e. gni g 1 n j for some j . Put another way, the left and right cosets

subgroup, that is the permutations linking the elements of this coset are those of N ,

N is not so, unless N is normal. In Eq. (16), gZ3 Z 3' is clearly a presentation of Z 3 ,

subgroup form a quotient group. That is, the product of two elements ai , bi in cosets

An and Bn , with A, B Q belong to the same coset ABn , viz ai b j Ani Bn j ABni' n j ,

11

so Q forms a group in this sense. The quotient group Q is denoted G / N Q . In this

Z2

case it is Z 2 , so that S3 / Z 3 Z 2 , or 1 Z 3 S 3 .

Since the composition of S 3 into normal subgroups solved the cubic, to solve the quartic

Z2 Z2 Z3 Z2

1 Z 2 D 2 A 4 S4 , (18)

see Fig. 2. The first normal subgroup in the series from S 4 is the alternating subgroup

normal, because it is related to its other presentation A4' by a single permutation, say

(1,2). The solution now follows the same procedure as for the cubic. We find a function

symmetric under A4 , say 1 . Let 2 be its image under the permutation (1,2) (which

Now we find a function symmetric under D2 , say t1 . Let t 2 be its image under the

cycle there is a third image t 3 . Then the following combinations exhibit A4 symmetry

12

t1 1t 2 2t3 3 1 , t 2 1t1 2 t 3 3 2 , t1 1t3 2t 2 3 3 . (20)

D2

Z2 Z 2'

1,2,3,4 3,4,1,2 (21)

(1,3)(2,4)

2,1,4,3 4,3,2,1

d1 r1 r2 r3 r4 d 2 r3 r4 r1 r2

Then the following combination exhibits D2 symmetry and is thus known in terms of t i

of the roots invariant only under the identity, with respect to the permutations of Z 2

Repeating this for the other images of D2 all ri r j can be found and the 4 roots

The previous section demonstrated on the example of the quartic, the procedure for

finding the roots of a polynomial solvable in radicals. Starting with the polynomial

coefficients exhibiting the symmetry of Galois group of the equation, we work down,

lowering the symmetry by reducing the size of the Galois group, until at the bottom level,

we relate these coefficient to the roots. The key to this procedure is the fact that a single

13

permutation relates presentations of the intermediate groups, i.e. that the subgroups are

normal with cyclic quotient groups. Therefore a polynomial with Galois group Q and the

Zc Zb Za

composition series 1 ...C B A Q , has the solution

b

(23)

Bi C p1i c C p2i ... cc 1C pci

c

... ...

Zi rp1i q1 rp2i ...q n 1 rpni

where the top level functions Qi are expressible in terms of the equation coefficients, and

the bottom level functions Z i , are linear combination of the n roots ri , with the constants

qi chosen so that Z i are invariant only under the identity. The functions Ai , Bi .. are

invariant under permutations of groups A, B.. respectively, and are obtained from A1 , B1 ..

Z A , Z B .. respectively) by which one passes from one presentation of the group to the next.

The quantities pij designates elements of the cyclic permutation, while i are the ith

roots of unity.

The solution of Section 2.7 does not apply to the general quintic because S 5 can not be

composed in a series of normal subgroups with cyclic quotient groups. Therefore the

quintic is either insoluble in radicals, or another solution method exists. Section 3.3

14

To show that S 5 can not be composed as required consider the cyclic subgroup Z 3

distinct symbols 4,5 , and one can write (1,2,3) g 1h 1 gh , where g (4,2,1), h (1,5,3) .

G H

single permutation of the quotient group, say G, H respectively: {g} {n} {h} . Then

where ni are elements of N . Since the quotient group is cyclic, G, H commute, and they

can be shuffled past elements of N until they combine to form the identity. The cycle

(1,2,3) is then a product of elements of N , and therefore also belongs to N . The entire

series of 3-cycles is then passed inside N from one step in the composition sequence to

the next, where the argument can be repeated. The subgroup N thus always contains all

3-cycles and can never be reduced to the identity. Then S n with n 5 does not have the

A solution in radicals still exists for restricted quintics whose Galois subgroup of S 5 , has

a normal composition. The largest such subgroup is the Frobenius group F20 , consisting

elements in all. The structure of this group is similar to S 3 of the cubic, with two

One passes between the 4 presentations of the cyclic subgroup Z 5 by the permutation

15

(2,3,5,4), hence Z 5 is a normal subgroup. The composition series of F20 is therefore

Z2 Z2

1 Z 5 D5 F20 , and the Galois groups of solvable quintics must belong to this set.

Since F20 contains 20 of the 120 permutations in S 5 , there are six presentations of F20 in

S 5 , corresponding to six invariants t i . As F20 consists of all 5 and 4 cycles these can be

obtained by applying F20 to the 3-cycle (3,4,5) and two cycle (4,5). Since F20 is solvable,

the five roots of the quintic ri can be solved [10] in terms of t i as described in the

previous section. However since S 5 is insoluble, there is no radical solution for the t i in

terms of the quintic coefficients (the S 5 invariants), and the best we can do is as follows.

Symmetric combinations of the six t i , are S 5 invariant, and hence form a known sextic,

Since there is no group in S 5 with F20 as normal subgroup this sextic can not be solved

4c 3 2c 11

x 5 5d 4 x 4d 5 2 0, (27)

c 1

2

c 1

16

where d is any real number but c must be rational. For solvable quintics the Bring form

is either that of Eq. (27), or can be factorised rationally into lower degree polynomials.

The central result of Galois theory states that a solution in radicals must necessarily be

of the form of Section 2.7. To demonstrate this result we shall first recall some properties

of irreducible polynomials.

Definition 3.1. An irreducible polynomial is one that can not be factored into lower

degree polynomials whose coefficients are rational functions of the original polynomial

coefficients.

g ( x, A ) such that the coefficients of g (x) are rational functions of the new parameter.

17

Thus f ( x) x 2 2 can be factored into rational polynomials in x and 2 , since

irreducible polynomial. Adjunction can also operate in stages as the following example

illustrates.

Example:

of quadratic polynomials

g ( x, 2 ) x 2 2 2 x 1 , h( x, 2 ) x 2 2 2 x 1. (28)

g ( x, 2 , 3 ) x 2 3 , g ' ( x, 2 , 3) x 2 3 (29)

h( x, 2 , 3) x 2 3 , h' ( x, 2 , 3) x 2 3

Proposition 3.1. An irreducible polynomial with rational coefficients can not have any

root in common with another distinct polynomial with rational coefficients without

having all its roots in common. As a corollary, given an irreducible polynomial there

exists no polynomial of lower degree that has any roots in common with that irreducible

polynomial.

This can be proved using Euclids algorithm. Let f (x) be an irreducible polynomial, and

let g (x) be another polynomial of lower degree, with which it shares roots ri . Using

18

polynomial division we can rationally determine a quotient polynomial q (x) and

f ( x) q ( x) g ( x) g1 ( x) , (30)

where the degree of the remainder g 1 ( x ) is less than the divisor g (x) . At the common

roots ri , both f (x) and g (x) are zero, consequently we must also have g1 (ri ) 0 .

Hence ri are also the roots of the remainder polynomial. We can now repeat the process,

than g 1 ( x ) which also shares the common roots. Eventually to avoid a contradiction we

must reach g n ( x) 0 so that all the roots of g n1 ( x) are common to f (x) and g (x) .

Thus a polynomial with repeated roots has these in common with its derivative

Proposition 3.3. For any polynomial with distinct roots one can always find a resolvent

meaning a linear rational function V of the roots ri so that no two values assumed by the

19

V (r1 ..rn ) a1r1 a2 r2 ...an rn . (31)

In the case of an arbitrary polynomial finding ai does not present any difficulty since the

roots are unrestricted, and a choice of n distinct coefficients will suffice. For example,

in Eq. (22) we chose the 4th roots of unity, and this can be extended to the general case

A proof of the existence of a resolvent when the coefficients are specified is described in

[7]

Proposition 3.4. All roots of a given polynomial can be expressed as rational functions

Let us construct another polynomial q (x) whose roots are the (n 1)! resolvents formed

x n g n 1 (r1 ..rn ) x n1 ... g 0 (r1 ..rn ) (34)

20

variables i (r2 ..rn ) si (r1 , 1 .. n) . But 1 .. n are symmetric in all roots and so are

g i' (r1 , s1 (r1 , 1 .. n )..s n 1 (r1 , 1 .. n ))

(35)

g i'' (r1 , bi )

g i''' (r1 )

x V (ri , r1 ..r j i ..rn ) x V (ri , rn ..r j i ..r1 ) ..

(37)

where r1 ..r j i ..rn denotes a symmetric permutation of the n 1 roots r1 ..rn with ri

excluded.

polynomial q(V0 , r ) . Trivially q(V0 , r1 ) 0 , since r r1 annuls the first factor in Eq.

(37). However q(V0 , r2 ) 0 since that would mean one of the resolvents with r1

that all values of the resolvent are different. Therefore p (r ) and q(V0 , r ) do not share

root r2 , and by symmetry neither do they share any other root except r1 . But this means

now repeat the argument with another root r2 , and all the other roots, which are therefore

21

also known once one resolvent is given. The roots are therefore all rationally known

functions of one resolvent, and therefore by Eq. (31) the resolvents are all rationally

Definition 3.3. For a given polynomial with n roots p(x) , the auxiliary polynomial

Finding the roots of a polynomial entails its complete decomposition into linear factors.

As demonstrated in Section 3.1, a step in this process is the adjunction of some radical

r

p

A , where A can be any quantity of the type shown in Table 1, which leads to a

reduction of the polynomial. Moreover, we need only consider prime roots since

extracting any rational root can be decomposed into a sequence of extraction of prime

roots and powers. It is well-known that the extraction of a p-th root carries an ambiguity

associated with multiplication by a p-th root of unity. These roots are the solutions of the

degree p 1 cyclotomic equation presented in Section 4.1, and are therefore solvable in

factor of the auxiliary polynomial q(V ) , starting from p 2 and increasing in order,

22

until at some power p the polynomial q(V ) reduces. We can write this reduction as the

q(V ) f (V , r1 ) g (V , r1 )

(38)

shares root r1 with r p A . Therefore hi (r ) ai for all p roots of r p A , and Eq. (38)

is satisfied by all ri

q(V ) f (V , ri ) g (V , ri ) , (40)

one variable f i (V ) f (V , ri ) , which from Eq. (40) share all their roots with q(V ) .

Because of the symmetry between the roots of r p A , these polynomials are either all

identical or all distinct. If they are identical q(V ) does not reduce, hence they are

Because the RHS of Eq. (41) is symmetric in ri and therefore a known polynomial, q(V )

can admit no other factors. Thus adjunction of the roots of r p A splits q(V ) into p

23

Let V1 be a root of f (V , r1 ) , and say we have found a function F (V ) so that F (V1 ) is

another root. Then the irreducible polynomial f (V , r1 ) shares a root with the polynomial

f F (V ), r1 f (V , r1 ) g (V , r1 ) , (42)

where g (V , r ) is the other factor. Repeating the arguments which lead from Eq. (38) to

f F (V ), ri f (V , ri ) g (V , ri ) . (43)

Therefore if Vi is a root of f (V , ri ) then F (Vi ) is another root. Putting this another way,

Let the Vi and V j be related by the permutation S in Eq. (31). Then the values of F (Vi )

and F (V j ) are related by the same permutation, as are therefore the roots of f i (V ) and

f i (V ) f j (V )

Vi V (r1 , r2 ,..rn )

S

V j V (r2 , r1 ..rn )

F2 V (r1 , r2 ,..rn )

S

F2 V (r2 , r1 ,..rn )

F3 V (r1 , r2 ,..rn ) F3 V (r2 , r1 ,..rn )

S

Fk V (r1 , r2 ,..rn )

Fk V (r2 , r1 ,..rn )

S

functions invariant with respect to all Vk are known functions of the coefficients of

24

f i (V ) after root ri is adjoined. On the other hand, from Eq. (31), the set Vk is in a one-to-

one correspondence to permutations of the roots of p(x) . It follows (see Section 4) that

the Galois group of q(V ) . Because of the symmetry between the roots of r p A this

subgroup is identical for all i , and therefore the columns in Eq. (44) correspond to its

presentations. However Eq. (44) shows that the presentation are also related by a single

permutation S (as in Eq. (16)). Since both left and right cosets are therefore identical it

follows that the Galois subgroup is normal, and the prime number of presentations means

the quotient group is cyclic of prime order. The adjunction of the roots of r p A to

q(V ) reduces its Galois group to a normal subgroup, with a cyclic quotient group of

prime order. We thus arrive at the solution of Section 2.7, which is therefore unique.

V1 a1r2 a2 r1 ..an rn , with r2 and r1 swapped, gives q (V1 , r2 ) 0 . The inverse of this

p(x) for some resolvent, it will return a root of p(x) for all resolvents.

25

Given this, assume we have found a set of functions Fi (V ) each returning a root ri when

acting on the resolvent V0 , ri Fi (V0 ) . Assume also we have found a set of resolvents

V0 ..Vm all belonging to the same irreducible factor of the auxiliary equation. Consider the

following table

F1 (V1 ) F2 (V1 ) F3 (V1 ) ... Fn (V1 )

(45)

... ... ... ...

F1 (Vm ) F2 (Vm ) F3 (Vm ) ... Fn (Vm )

Since all functions in the table return a root of p(x) , with the roots arranged as r1 ..rn in

the top row, the table actually represents a set of permutations of the roots r1 ..rn . We now

claim:

Proposition 4.1 The set of permutations in Eq. (45) forms the Galois group of p(x) , with

all functions invariant under these permutations being known, and vice versa, all known

To prove this, consider a function of the roots f (r1 , r2 ..rn ) invariant under the

f F1 (V0 ), F2 (V0 )..Fn (V0 ) f F1 (V1 ), F2 (V1 )..Fn (V1 ) ... (46)

26

Conversely, let us write a known function of the roots f (r1 , r2 ..rn ) as

f (r1 , r2 ..rn ) f ( F1 (V0 ), F2 (V0 )..Fn (V0 )) g (V0 ) , where g (V ) is therefore also known. If

f (r1 , r2 ..rn ) is not invariant under all permutations of the above table, g (V ) is not

invariant under all Vi . Since this means g (V ) const 0 for only some Vi , we have the

contradiction of a known polynomial which does not share all its roots with an irreducible

polynomial.

Before turning to applications we note the following. Firstly, one generally does not have

permutations directly. Secondly, the resolvents Vi in Eq. (45) must belong to the same

irreducible factor of the auxiliary equation. If on the other hand all n! resolvents of the

auxiliary equation are used, and for some choice of functions Fi (V ) the group of

in this group. We use this to calculate the Galois group of the cyclotomic equation.

( p 1) /( 1) p1 p2 ..1 0 , (47)

27

It is well known that for every prime p there exists a primitive integer g such that all

i

Example: For p 11 , a primitive index is g 2 , and so i g gives

i , 2 , 4 , 8 , 5 , 10 , 9 , 7 , 3 , 6 . (48)

Let us define f (r ) r g where g is the primitive index, choose a root 1 and a resolvent

V0 , and find a function F (V ) such that 1 F (V0 ) . Then the entire table of Eq. (45) can

( F (V0 )) n 1

F (V1 ) i f ( F (V1 )) i 1 f ( F (V1 )) i 2

2

... f n 1

( F (V1 )) i n 1

(49)

... ... ... ...

F (Vm ) k f ( F (Vm )) k 1 f 2 ( F (Vm )) k 2 ... f n 1

( F (Vm )) k n 1

where f ( f (r )) f 2 (r ) etc., and 1 , i .. k in the first column denote whatever roots our

chosen function F (V ) generates for the given argument. We see that the Galois group of

the cyclotomic equation of prime degree is the group of all cyclic permutations Z p 1 .

since a different choice simply changes the starting permutation in the top row.

Example: Let and be the 17th and the (known) 16th-roots of unity respectively. Let

28

t 2 2 3 .. 15 16 . (50)

symmetric under the Galois group of the equation, and is known; indeed expanding t 16

we find it is a function of alone. Since there is nothing special about the particular

permutation of i in Eq. (50) all such combinations are known, from which can be

extracting the 16-th root of unity, which can be expressed in square roots, the regular 17-

The general procedure is as follows. The Galois group of a solvable quintic is a subgroup

of F20 which, as we saw, consists of 4 presentations of the cyclic group Z 5 related by the

P( x) ( x t1 )( x t 2 )..(x t 20 ) , (51)

whose roots are the images of t under the 20 substitutions of F20 . If this polynomial has

integer coefficients the quintic is solvable. For this it is sufficient (by Lagranges

construction) to check that P(x) is (complex) integer valued for 20 different (complex)

integers xi . The Galois group can be further narrowed down to any of the solvable

subgroups of F20 by restricting the polynomial P(x) to just the permutations of this

subgroup.

29

Example: Consider DeMoivres quintic x 5 5ax 3 5a 2 x b 0 . Choosing a 2, b 1

where t assumes different values under all permutation of the roots ri . Choosing the 25

This can be done using standard 15-digit computation in Excel with almost no rounding

the general procedure of Section 2.7, or, in this case, more simply using the substitution

rm m u11 / 5 5m u12 / 5 , u1 , u 2 b b 2 4a 5 / 2 , (53)

where is a 5th root of unity. If b 2 4a 5 0 there is one real solution and two complex

conjugate pairs, in the contrary case u1 u 2 , and all five solutions are real. In this case it

1

rm 2(a)1 / 2 cos 2m cos 1 (b / 2(a) 5 / 2 ) . (54)

5

Example: Consider the irreducible binomial x 5 A . From Eq. (41) its Galois group is

Z 5 once the 5th roots of unity are adjoined. The Galois group of the 5th roots of unity,

30

from Eq. (49) is Z 4 , so the Galois group of the binomial is composed of 4 presentations

5. Conclusion

A method for solving polynomial equations in radicals based on simple group theory

methods has been presented and applied to solve general polynomials of degree 4 and

below, and specific quintics. Polynomials with degree 5 with arbitrary coefficients are

shown to be insoluble by this method. Galois theory was used to demonstrate that no

other solution in radicals is possible. A method for calculating the Galois group was

31

1. L. Novotny, Strong coupling, energy splitting, and level crossings: A classical

2. G. Toth, Groups Minimal Immersion of Spheres, and Moduli, Springer, New York,

2002, p. 66.

3. J. Stillwell, Galois theory for beginners, Am. Math. Monthly. 101(1994) 22-27.

381-444.

9. L. Sylow and S. Lie, Oeuvres Completes De Niels Henrik Abel, Kessinger Publishing,

32

Figure Captions

Figure 1. Oscillatory systems with frequencies and normal modes determined by the roots

of polynomial equations. (a) A set of masses connected by springs and (b), a quantum

33

Figure 2. Structure of the Galois group of the general quartic S 4 , showing that it is

solvable in radicals. The 24 elements of the group can be composed into a series of

Z3 Z2

subgroups D2 A4 S 4 , with presentations linked by a single permutation, the generator

of the quotient group. The diagram also shows the polynomials t i invariant under each

presentation of D2 .

34

35

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