Root of unityIn mathematics, a complex number z is called an n-th root of unity if zn = 1 (here, n is a positive integer).
For every positive integer n, there are n different n-th roots of unity. For example, the third roots of unity are 1, (−1 +i√3) /2 and (−1 − i√3) /2. In general, the n-th roots of unity can be written as:
The nth roots of unity form a group under multiplication of complex numbers. This group is cyclic. A generator of this group is called a primitive n-th root of unity. The primitive n-th roots of unity are precisely the numbers of the form exp(2πij/n) where j and n are coprime. Therefore, there are φ(n) different primitive n-th roots of unity, where φ(n) denotes Euler's phi function.
The n-th roots of unity are precisely the zeros of the polynomial p(X) = Xn − 1; the primitive n-th roots of unity are precisely the zeros of the nth cyclotomic polynomial
Every nth root of unity is a primitive dth root of unity for exactly one positive divisor d of n. This implies that
- Φ1(X) = X − 1
- Φ2(X) = X + 1
- Φ3(X) = X2 + X + 1
- Φ4(X) = X2 + 1
- Φ5(X) = X4 +X3 + X2 + X + 1
- Φ6(X) = X2 - X + 1
By adjoining a primitive nth root of unity to Q, one obtains the nth cyclotomic field Fn. This field contains all nth roots of unity and is the splitting field of the nth cyclotomic polynomial over Q. The field extension Fn/Q has degree φ(n) and its Galois group is naturally isomorphic to the multiplicative group of units of the ring Z/nZ.
As the Galois group of Fn/Q is abelian, this is an abelian extension. Every subfield of a cyclotomic field is an abelian extension of the rationals. In these cases Galois theory can be written out quite explicitly in terms of Gaussian periods: this theory from the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae of Gauss was published many years before Galois.
Conversely, every abelian extension of the rationals is such a subfield of a cyclotomic field - a theorem of Kronecker.