Algebra, Fall 2020

Algebra tome
Cours d'Arithmétique


Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays 10:40


Doherty Hall 2302 [map] [classroom photo]

Pre-semester questionnaire:

Thanks to everyone who filled the survey. It was very helpful.


Abstraction is a way to strip the irrelevant. Algebra is the language of abstraction.

This course is aimed at students who are already somewhat familiar with abstract algebra, and want to deepen their knowledge. Besides the essentials of groups, ring, and fields, I hope to give a taste of representation theory and algebraic geometry.


There is no required text. The book that most closely matches the course is Abstract Algebra by Dummit and Foote. It is an excellent text to learn from.

Class format:

This is an in-person/remote class. You may choose to attend in-person or via remote technology; you may change the mode of attendance at any time. The connection will be via Zoom. The meeting ID is 948 2762 0577, which is accessible only through CMU Zoom accounts. The password was e-mailed to the registered students on 29th of August. If you add the class after this date or want to audit the class, e-mail me.

To maintain interactive and informal spirit, the students attending remotely will be required to keep their cameras on.

Office hours:

The office hours will be at 2:30pm on Thursdays, online via Zoom meeting ID 993 95617 838 using the same password as for the lectures. The hours are subject to change. I am also available by appointment.

Course activities:

There will be several homeworks, a take-home mid-term and a take-home final. To help maintain academic integrity, there will be two oral exams for everyone except for the PhD students. The mid-term will be a 4-hour exam at a time of student's choice during October 22-25. The final exam will be a 24-hour exam at a time of student's choice during the finals week.

Students are expected to fully participate in the class. Discussions during the lectures are encouraged.

Homework will count for 15% of the grade. The mid-term and the final will count for 35% and 50% for PhD students. For non-PhD students, the percentages are 25% and 40% respectively. The oral tests for non-PhD students will follow respective take-home tests. They will each be worth 10%. In addition, they will be used to assess that the submitted solutions to take-home tests match students' level of expertise.

Collaboration on homeworks is allowed, but all writing must be done independently. Collaboration on take-home tests is forbidden. Violators will receive a failing grade for the course, and will be subject to disciplinary actions as explained in the student handbook.

Homework must be submitted in LaTeX via e-mail. I want both the LaTeX file and the PDF that is produced from it. The filenames must be of the form lastname_algebra_homeworknumber.tex and lastname_algebra_homeworknumber.pdf respectively. Pictures and commutative diagrams do not have to be typeset; a legible photograph of a hand-drawn picture is acceptable.

The homework must be submitted by 10:40am of the day it is due. For each minute that it is late, the assignment grade will be reduced by 10%.

Auditing the course:

If you want to audit the course, please contact me in advance even if you plan to attend only remotely.


This syllabus is more likely to change than a syllabus during a non-pandemic semester. I will strive to minimize disruptions, and will communicate any changes promptly via e-mail (and in class if possible).

Staying sane and healthy:

This is a graduate course. It is designed to challenge your brain with new and exciting mathematics, not to wear your body down with sleepless nights. Start the assignments early, and get good nutrition and exercise. Pace yourself, for semester is long. If you find yourself falling behind or constantly tired, talk to me.


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