Dirichlet's Unit Theorem

In this chapter we will prove Dirichlet's unit theorem, which is a structure theorem for the group of units of the ring of integers of a number field. The answer is remarkably simple: if $ K$ has $ r$ real and $ s$ pairs of complex conjugate embeddings, then

$\displaystyle \O_K^*\approx \mathbf{Z}^{r+s-1} \times T,

where $ T$ is a finite cyclic group.

Many questions can be encoded as questions about the structure of the group of units. For example, Dirichlet's unit theorem explains the structure the integer solutions $ (x,y)$ to Pell's equation $ x^2-dy^2=1$ (see Section 8.2.1).


William Stein 2012-09-24