Galois theory

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In mathematics, more specifically in abstract algebra, Galois theory, named after Évariste Galois, provides a connection between field theory and group theory. Using Galois theory, certain problems in field theory can be reduced to group theory, which is in some sense simpler and better understood.

Originally Galois used permutation groups to describe how the various roots of a given polynomial equation are related to each other. The modern approach to Galois theory, developed by Richard Dedekind, Leopold Kronecker and Emil Artin, among others, involves studying automorphisms of field extensions.

Further abstraction of Galois theory is achieved by the theory of Galois connections.


Application to classical problems

The birth of Galois theory was originally motivated by the following question, whose answer is known as the Abel–Ruffini theorem.

Galois theory not only provides a beautiful answer to this question, it also explains in detail why it is possible to solve equations of degree four or lower in the above manner, and why their solutions take the form that they do. Further, it gives a conceptually clear, and often practical, means of telling when some particular equation of higher degree can be solved in that manner.

Galois theory also gives a clear insight into questions concerning problems in compass and straightedge construction. It gives an elegant characterisation of the ratios of lengths that can be constructed with this method. Using this, it becomes relatively easy to answer such classical problems of geometry as

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