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In
algebraic geometry Algebraic geometry is a branch of mathematics, classically studying zeros of multivariate polynomials. Modern algebraic geometry is based on the use of abstract algebraic techniques, mainly from commutative algebra, for solving geometrical ...
, a generic point ''P'' of an
algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are the central objects of study in algebraic geometry, a sub-field of mathematics. Classically, an algebraic variety is defined as the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations over the real or complex numbers ...
''X'' is, roughly speaking, a point at which all generic properties are true, a generic property being a property which is true for almost every point. In classical algebraic geometry, a generic point of an
affine Affine may describe any of various topics concerned with connections or affinities. It may refer to: * Affine, a relative by marriage in law and anthropology * Affine cipher, a special case of the more general substitution cipher * Affine com ...
or
projective algebraic variety In algebraic geometry, a projective variety over an algebraically closed field ''k'' is a subset of some projective ''n''-space \mathbb^n over ''k'' that is the zero-locus of some finite family of homogeneous polynomials of ''n'' + 1 variables wi ...
of dimension ''d'' is a point such that the field generated by its coordinates has
transcendence degree In abstract algebra, the transcendence degree of a field extension ''L'' / ''K'' is a certain rather coarse measure of the "size" of the extension. Specifically, it is defined as the largest cardinality of an algebraically independent subset of ...
''d'' over the field generated by the coefficients of the equations of the variety. In scheme theory, the
spectrum A spectrum (plural ''spectra'' or ''spectrums'') is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary, without gaps, across a continuum. The word was first used scientifically in optics to describe the rainbow of color ...
of an
integral domain In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, an integral domain is a nonzero commutative ring in which the product of any two nonzero elements is nonzero. Integral domains are generalizations of the ring of integers and provide a natural se ...
has a unique generic point, which is the zero ideal. As the closure of this point for the
Zariski topology In algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, the Zariski topology is a topology which is primarily defined by its closed sets. It is very different from topologies which are commonly used in the real or complex analysis; in particular, it is ...
is the whole spectrum, the definition has been extended to
general topology In mathematics, general topology is the branch of topology that deals with the basic set-theoretic definitions and constructions used in topology. It is the foundation of most other branches of topology, including differential topology, geome ...
, where a generic point of a
topological space In mathematics, a topological space is, roughly speaking, a geometrical space in which closeness is defined but cannot necessarily be measured by a numeric distance. More specifically, a topological space is a set whose elements are called poi ...
''X'' is a point whose closure is ''X''.


Definition and motivation

A generic point of the topological space ''X'' is a point ''P'' whose closure is all of ''X'', that is, a point that is dense in ''X''. The terminology arises from the case of the
Zariski topology In algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, the Zariski topology is a topology which is primarily defined by its closed sets. It is very different from topologies which are commonly used in the real or complex analysis; in particular, it is ...
on the set of subvarieties of an
algebraic set Algebraic may refer to any subject related to algebra in mathematics and related branches like algebraic number theory and algebraic topology. The word algebra itself has several meanings. Algebraic may also refer to: * Algebraic data type, a data ...
: the algebraic set is irreducible (that is, it is not the union of two proper algebraic subsets) if and only if the topological space of the subvarieties has a generic point.


Examples

*The only
Hausdorff space In topology and related branches of mathematics, a Hausdorff space ( , ), separated space or T2 space is a topological space where, for any two distinct points, there exist neighbourhoods of each which are disjoint from each other. Of the man ...
that has a generic point is the singleton set. *Any integral scheme has a (unique) generic point; in the case of an affine integral scheme (i.e., the
prime spectrum In commutative algebra, the prime spectrum (or simply the spectrum) of a ring ''R'' is the set of all prime ideals of ''R'', and is usually denoted by \operatorname; in algebraic geometry it is simultaneously a topological space equipped with th ...
of an
integral domain In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, an integral domain is a nonzero commutative ring in which the product of any two nonzero elements is nonzero. Integral domains are generalizations of the ring of integers and provide a natural se ...
) the generic point is the point associated to the prime ideal (0).


History

In the foundational approach of
André Weil André Weil (; ; 6 May 1906 – 6 August 1998) was a French mathematician, known for his foundational work in number theory and algebraic geometry. He was a founding member and the ''de facto'' early leader of the mathematical Bourbaki group. ...
, developed in his ''Foundations of Algebraic Geometry'', generic points played an important role, but were handled in a different manner. For an algebraic variety ''V'' over a
field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlefield * Lawn, an area of mowed grass * Meadow, a gras ...
''K'', ''generic points'' of ''V'' were a whole class of points of ''V'' taking values in a universal domain Ω, an
algebraically closed field In mathematics, a field is algebraically closed if every non-constant polynomial in (the univariate polynomial ring with coefficients in ) has a root in . Examples As an example, the field of real numbers is not algebraically closed, because ...
containing ''K'' but also an infinite supply of fresh indeterminates. This approach worked, without any need to deal directly with the topology of ''V'' (''K''-Zariski topology, that is), because the specializations could all be discussed at the field level (as in the valuation theory approach to algebraic geometry, popular in the 1930s). This was at a cost of there being a huge collection of equally generic points. Oscar Zariski, a colleague of Weil's at São Paulo just after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing ...
, always insisted that generic points should be unique. (This can be put back into topologists' terms: Weil's idea fails to give a Kolmogorov space and Zariski thinks in terms of the Kolmogorov quotient.) In the rapid foundational changes of the 1950s Weil's approach became obsolete. In scheme theory, though, from 1957, generic points returned: this time ''à la Zariski''. For example for ''R'' a
discrete valuation ring In abstract algebra, a discrete valuation ring (DVR) is a principal ideal domain (PID) with exactly one non-zero maximal ideal. This means a DVR is an integral domain ''R'' which satisfies any one of the following equivalent conditions: # ''R'' ...
, ''Spec''(''R'') consists of two points, a generic point (coming from the prime ideal ) and a closed point or special point coming from the unique maximal ideal. For morphisms to ''Spec''(''R''), the fiber above the special point is the special fiber, an important concept for example in reduction modulo p, monodromy theory and other theories about degeneration. The generic fiber, equally, is the fiber above the generic point. Geometry of degeneration is largely then about the passage from generic to special fibers, or in other words how specialization of parameters affects matters. (For a discrete valuation ring the topological space in question is the Sierpinski space of topologists. Other
local ring In abstract algebra, more specifically ring theory, local rings are certain rings that are comparatively simple, and serve to describe what is called "local behaviour", in the sense of functions defined on varieties or manifolds, or of algebraic ...
s have unique generic and special points, but a more complicated spectrum, since they represent general dimensions. The discrete valuation case is much like the complex
unit disk In mathematics, the open unit disk (or disc) around ''P'' (where ''P'' is a given point in the plane), is the set of points whose distance from ''P'' is less than 1: :D_1(P) = \.\, The closed unit disk around ''P'' is the set of points whose di ...
, for these purposes.)


References

* * {{refend Algebraic geometry General topology