nLab group of ideles




The group of ideles 𝕀\mathbb{I} is the group of units in the ring of adeles 𝔸\mathbb{A}:

𝕀=𝔸 ×GL 1(𝔸). \mathbb{I} = \mathbb{A}^\times \coloneqq GL_1(\mathbb{A}) \,.

In classical algebraic number theory one embeds a number field into the cartesian product of its completions at its archimedean absolute values. This embedding is very useful in the proofs of several fundamental theorems. However, it was noticed by Claude Chevalley and André Weil that the situation was improved somewhat if the number field is embedded in the cartesian product of its formal completions at all of its absolute values. With a few additional restrictions, these objects are known as the adeles, and the units of this ring are called the ideles.

When considering the adeles and ideles, it is their topology as much as their algebraic structure that is of interest. Many important results in number theory translate into simple statements about the topologies of the adeles and ideles. For example, the finiteness of the ideal class group and the Dirichlet unit theorem are equivalent to a certain quotient of the ideles being compact and discrete.

(Weston, p. 1)



The group of units of the ring of adeles 𝔸 \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}} is called the group of ideles

𝕀 GL 1(𝔸 )=𝔸 ×. \mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{Q}} \coloneqq GL_1(\mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}) = \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}^\times \,.

It is a topological group via identification with the set {(x,x 1)𝔸 2:x𝕀 }\{(x, x^{-1}) \in \mathbb{A}_\mathbb{Q}^2: \; x \in \mathbb{I}_\mathbb{Q}\}, seen as a subspace of 𝔸 2\mathbb{A}_\mathbb{Q}^2.


The topology on 𝕀 \mathbb{I}_\mathbb{Q} is strictly finer than the subspace topology inherited from 𝔸 \mathbb{A}_\mathbb{Q}. For example, the set ×× p p ×\mathbb{R}^\times \times \prod_p \mathbb{Z}_p^\times is a neighborhood of 11 in 𝕀 \mathbb{I}_\mathbb{Q}, but not in the subspace topology. Cf. the discussion here. Note: multiplicative inversion is not continuous in the subspace topology.

The same definition holds for the ring of adeles of any other global field KK, here one writes

𝕀 KGL 1(𝔸 K) \mathbb{I}_K \coloneqq GL_1(\mathbb{A}_K)

or similar. The notation J KJ_K is also common.


The quotient

K ×\𝕀 K=GL 1(K)\GL 1(𝔸 K) K^\times \backslash \mathbb{I}_K = GL_1(K)\backslash GL_1(\mathbb{A}_K)

is called the idele class group of KK.


The idele class group, def. , appears prominently in the description of the moduli space of line bundles over the arithmetic curve on which KK is the rational functions. From there it appears in the abelian Langlands correspondence and in the abelian case of Tamagawa measures.

The idele class group is a key object in class field theory.


Product formula

Recall the p-adic norm || p{\vert -\vert}_p on \mathbb{Q} for pp a prime number, given by

|abp | pp {\left \vert \frac{a}{b}p^\ell \right \vert}_p \coloneqq p^{-\ell}

for a,ba,b coprime to pp. The usual absolute value norm one writes

|| {\vert -\vert}_\infty

and associates with the “prime at infinity”. When an index runs over the set of all primes (“finite primes”) union with the “prime at infinity” one usually writes it “vv” instead of pp.

This induces:


The idele norm

||:𝕀 × {\vert -\vert} \colon \mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{Q}} \longrightarrow \mathbb{C}^\times

is the function given by

|α|v|α v| v. {\vert \alpha\vert} \coloneqq \underset{v}{\prod} {\vert \alpha_v\vert}_v \,.

Notice that by construction there is a diagonal map ×𝕀 \mathbb{Q}^\times \to \mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{Q}}.


(product formula)

The idele norm, def. , is trivial on the diagonal of ×\mathbb{Q}^\times inside the ideles, in that

(α ×𝕀 )|α|v|α v| v=1. (\alpha \in \mathbb{Q}^\times \to \mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{Q}}) \;\Rightarrow\; {\vert \alpha\vert} \coloneqq \underset{v}{\prod} {\vert \alpha_v\vert}_v = 1 \,.

The product formula, prop. , says that the idele norm descends to the idele class group, def. .

(e.g. Garrett 11, section 1)

Strong approximation theorem for the idele class group


(strong approximation form ideles)

The idele class group, def. , may be expressed as

×\𝔸 ×(0,)×p p ×. \mathbb{Q}^\times \backslash \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}^\times \simeq (0,\infty) \times \underset{p}{\prod} \mathbb{Z}_p^\times \,.

(e.g. Goldfeld-Hundley 11, prop. 1.4.5 and below (2.2.7))

This implies that the ring of adeles may be decomposed into a rational and an idele class factor as:

𝔸 × ××( ×\𝔸 ×) n ×n( ×\𝔸 ×). \begin{aligned} \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}^\times & \simeq \mathbb{Q}^\times \times (\mathbb{Q}^\times \backslash \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}^\times) \\ & \coloneqq \underset{n \in \mathbb{Q}^\times}{\cup} n \cdot (\mathbb{Q}^\times \backslash \mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}^\times) \end{aligned} \,.

(e.g. Goldfeld-Hundley 11, prop. 1.4.6 and below (2.2.7))

This decomposition is crucial in the discussion of the Riemann zeta function (see there) as an adelic integral.

Automorphic forms and Relation to Dirichlet characters

The automorphic forms of the idele group are essentially Dirichlet characters in disguise (Goldfeld-Hundley 11, below def. 2.1.4)

Function field analogy

Via the function field analogy one may understand any number field or function field FF as being the rational functions on an arithmetic curve Σ\Sigma. Under this identification the ring of adeles 𝔸 F\mathbb{A}_F of FF has the interpretation of being the ring of functions on all punctured formal disks around all points of Σ\Sigma, such that only finitely many of them do not extend to the given point. (Frenkel 05, section 3.2).

This means for instance that the general linear group GL n(𝔸 F)GL_n(\mathbb{A}_F) with coefficients in the ring of adeles has the interpretation as being the Cech cocycles for algebraic vector bundles of rank nn on an algebraic curve with respect to any cover of that curve by the complement of a finite number of points together with the formal disks around these points. Here for n=1n = 1 then GL 1(𝔸 F)GL_1(\mathbb{A}_F) is the group of ideles.

This is part of a standard construction of the moduli stack of bundles on algebraic curves, see at Moduli space of bundles and the Langlands correspondence.

function field analogy

number fields (“function fields of curves over F1”)function fields of curves over finite fields 𝔽 q\mathbb{F}_q (arithmetic curves)Riemann surfaces/complex curves
affine and projective line
\mathbb{Z} (integers)𝔽 q[z]\mathbb{F}_q[z] (polynomials, polynomial algebra on affine line 𝔸 𝔽 q 1\mathbb{A}^1_{\mathbb{F}_q})𝒪 \mathcal{O}_{\mathbb{C}} (holomorphic functions on complex plane)
\mathbb{Q} (rational numbers)𝔽 q(z)\mathbb{F}_q(z) (rational fractions/rational function on affine line 𝔸 𝔽 q 1\mathbb{A}^1_{\mathbb{F}_q})meromorphic functions on complex plane
pp (prime number/non-archimedean place)x𝔽 px \in \mathbb{F}_p, where zx𝔽 q[z]z - x \in \mathbb{F}_q[z] is the irreducible monic polynomial of degree onexx \in \mathbb{C}, where zx𝒪 z - x \in \mathcal{O}_{\mathbb{C}} is the function which subtracts the complex number xx from the variable zz
\infty (place at infinity)\infty
Spec()Spec(\mathbb{Z}) (Spec(Z))𝔸 𝔽 q 1\mathbb{A}^1_{\mathbb{F}_q} (affine line)complex plane
Spec()place Spec(\mathbb{Z}) \cup place_{\infty} 𝔽 q\mathbb{P}_{\mathbb{F}_q} (projective line)Riemann sphere
p() p()p\partial_p \coloneqq \frac{(-)^p - (-)}{p} (Fermat quotient)z\frac{\partial}{\partial z} (coordinate derivation)
genus of the rational numbers = 0genus of the Riemann sphere = 0
formal neighbourhoods
/(p n)\mathbb{Z}/(p^n \mathbb{Z}) (prime power local ring)𝔽 q[z]/((zx) n𝔽 q[z])\mathbb{F}_q [z]/((z-x)^n \mathbb{F}_q [z]) (nn-th order univariate local Artinian 𝔽 q \mathbb{F}_q -algebra)[z]/((zx) n[z])\mathbb{C}[z]/((z-x)^n \mathbb{C}[z]) (nn-th order univariate Weil \mathbb{C} -algebra)
p\mathbb{Z}_p (p-adic integers)𝔽 q[[zx]]\mathbb{F}_q[ [ z -x ] ] (power series around xx)[[zx]]\mathbb{C}[ [z-x] ] (holomorphic functions on formal disk around xx)
Spf( p)×Spec()XSpf(\mathbb{Z}_p)\underset{Spec(\mathbb{Z})}{\times} X (“pp-arithmetic jet space” of XX at pp)formal disks in XX
p\mathbb{Q}_p (p-adic numbers)𝔽 q((zx))\mathbb{F}_q((z-x)) (Laurent series around xx)((zx))\mathbb{C}((z-x)) (holomorphic functions on punctured formal disk around xx)
𝔸 = pplace p\mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}} = \underset{p\; place}{\prod^\prime}\mathbb{Q}_p (ring of adeles)𝔸 𝔽 q((t))\mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{F}_q((t))} ( adeles of function field ) x((zx))\underset{x \in \mathbb{C}}{\prod^\prime} \mathbb{C}((z-x)) (restricted product of holomorphic functions on all punctured formal disks, finitely of which do not extend to the unpunctured disks)
𝕀 =GL 1(𝔸 )\mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{Q}} = GL_1(\mathbb{A}_{\mathbb{Q}}) (group of ideles)𝕀 𝔽 q((t))\mathbb{I}_{\mathbb{F}_q((t))} ( ideles of function field ) xGL 1(((zx)))\underset{x \in \mathbb{C}}{\prod^\prime} GL_1(\mathbb{C}((z-x)))
theta functions
Jacobi theta function
zeta functions
Riemann zeta functionGoss zeta function
branched covering curves
KK a number field (K\mathbb{Q} \hookrightarrow K a possibly ramified finite dimensional field extension)KK a function field of an algebraic curve Σ\Sigma over 𝔽 p\mathbb{F}_pK ΣK_\Sigma (sheaf of rational functions on complex curve Σ\Sigma)
𝒪 K\mathcal{O}_K (ring of integers)𝒪 Σ\mathcal{O}_{\Sigma} (structure sheaf)
Spec an(𝒪 K)Spec()Spec_{an}(\mathcal{O}_K) \to Spec(\mathbb{Z}) (spectrum with archimedean places)Σ\Sigma (arithmetic curve)ΣP 1\Sigma \to \mathbb{C}P^1 (complex curve being branched cover of Riemann sphere)
() pΦ()p\frac{(-)^p - \Phi(-)}{p} (lift of Frobenius morphism/Lambda-ring structure)z\frac{\partial}{\partial z}
genus of a number fieldgenus of an algebraic curvegenus of a surface
formal neighbourhoods
vv prime ideal in ring of integers 𝒪 K\mathcal{O}_KxΣx \in \SigmaxΣx \in \Sigma
K vK_v (formal completion at vv)((z x))\mathbb{C}((z_x)) (function algebra on punctured formal disk around xx)
𝒪 K v\mathcal{O}_{K_v} (ring of integers of formal completion)[[z x]]\mathbb{C}[ [ z_x ] ] (function algebra on formal disk around xx)
𝔸 K\mathbb{A}_K (ring of adeles) xΣ ((z x))\prod^\prime_{x\in \Sigma} \mathbb{C}((z_x)) (restricted product of function rings on all punctured formal disks around all points in Σ\Sigma)
𝒪\mathcal{O} xΣ[[z x]]\prod_{x\in \Sigma} \mathbb{C}[ [z_x] ] (function ring on all formal disks around all points in Σ\Sigma)
𝕀 K=GL 1(𝔸 K)\mathbb{I}_K = GL_1(\mathbb{A}_K) (group of ideles) xΣ GL 1(((z x)))\prod^\prime_{x\in \Sigma} GL_1(\mathbb{C}((z_x)))
Galois theory
Galois groupπ 1(Σ)\pi_1(\Sigma) fundamental group
Galois representationflat connection (“local system”) on Σ\Sigma
class field theory
class field theorygeometric class field theory
Hilbert reciprocity lawArtin reciprocity lawWeil reciprocity law
GL 1(K)\GL 1(𝔸 K)GL_1(K)\backslash GL_1(\mathbb{A}_K) (idele class group)
GL 1(K)\GL 1(𝔸 K)/GL 1(𝒪)GL_1(K)\backslash GL_1(\mathbb{A}_K)/GL_1(\mathcal{O})Bun GL 1(Σ)Bun_{GL_1}(\Sigma) (moduli stack of line bundles, by Weil uniformization theorem)
non-abelian class field theory and automorphy
number field Langlands correspondencefunction field Langlands correspondencegeometric Langlands correspondence
GL n(K)\GL n(𝔸 K)//GL n(𝒪)GL_n(K) \backslash GL_n(\mathbb{A}_K)//GL_n(\mathcal{O}) (constant sheaves on this stack form unramified automorphic representations)Bun GL n()(Σ)Bun_{GL_n(\mathbb{C})}(\Sigma) (moduli stack of bundles on the curve Σ\Sigma, by Weil uniformization theorem)
Tamagawa-Weil for number fieldsTamagawa-Weil for function fields
theta functions
Hecke theta functionfunctional determinant line bundle of Dirac operator/chiral Laplace operator on Σ\Sigma
zeta functions
Dedekind zeta functionWeil zeta functionzeta function of a Riemann surface/of the Laplace operator on Σ\Sigma
higher dimensional spaces
zeta functionsHasse-Weil zeta function


Basics are recalled in

  • Adeles pdf

  • Pete Clark, Adeles and Ideles (pdf)

  • Erwin Dassen , Adeles & Ideles (pdf)

  • Tom Weston, The idelic approach to number theory (pdf)

  • Dorian Goldfeld, Joseph Hundley, chapter 2 of Automorphic representations and L-functions for the general linear group, Cambridge Studies in Advanced Mathematics 129, 2011 (pdf)

  • Paul Garrett, Iwasawa-Tate on ζ-functions and L-functions, 2011 (pdf

Discussion in the context of the geometric Langlands correspondence is in

  • Edward Frenkel, section 3.2 of Lectures on the Langlands Program and Conformal Field Theory, in Frontiers in number theory, physics, and geometry II, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2007. 387-533. (arXiv:hep-th/0512172)

Last revised on March 2, 2015 at 12:56:44. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.