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Holes in I^n

  • Karpenko, Nikita A.
Publication Date
Dec 15, 2003
Submission Date
Dec 15, 2003
arXiv ID: math/0312273
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Let F be an arbitrary field of characteristic not 2. We write W(F) for the Witt ring of F, consisting of the isomorphism classes of all anisotropic quadratic forms over F. For any element x of W(F), dimension dim x is defined as the dimension of a quadratic form representing x. The elements of all even dimensions form an ideal denoted I(F). The filtration of the ring W(F) by the powers I(F)^n of this ideal plays a fundamental role in the algebraic theory of quadratic forms. The Milnor conjectures, recently proved by Voevodsky and Orlov-Vishik-Voevodsky, describe the successive quotients I(F)^n/I(F)^{n+1} of this filtration, identifying them with Galois cohomology groups and with the Milnor K-groups modulo 2 of the field F. In the present article we give a complete answer to a different old-standing question concerning I(F)^n, asking about the possible values of dim x for x in I(F)^n. More precisely, for any positive integer n, we prove that the set dim I^n of all dim x for all x in I(F)^n and all F consisists of 2^{n+1}-2^i, i=1,2,...,n+1 together with all even integers greater or equal to 2^{n+1}. Previously available partial informations on dim I^n include the classical Arason-Pfister theorem, saying that no integer between 0 and 2^n lies in dim I^n, as well as a recent Vishik's theorem, saying the same on the integers between 2^n and 2^n+2^{n-1} (the case n=3 is due to Pfister, n=4 to Hoffmann). Our proof is based on computations in Chow groups of powers of projective quadrics (involving the Steenrod operations); the method developed can be also applied to other types of algebraic varieties.

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