Algebraic closure of the field of two elements

I think I learned about this from a comment on MathOverflow.

Recall that the field of two elements \mathbf F_2 is the ring \mathbf Z/2\mathbf Z of integers modulo 2. In other words, it consists of the elements 0 and 1 with addition 1+1 = 0 and the obvious multiplication. Clearly every nonzero element is invertible, so \mathbf F_2 is a field.

Lemma. The field \mathbf F_2 is algebraically closed.

Proof. We need to show that every non-constant polynomial f \in \mathbf F_2[x] has a root. Suppose f does not have a root, so that f(0) \neq 0 and f(1) \neq 0. Then f(0) = f(1) = 1, so f is the constant polynomial 1. This contradicts the assumption that f is non-constant. \qedsymbol

1 thought on “Algebraic closure of the field of two elements

  1. Amazing! I’ve had trouble picturing the algebraic closure of finite fields in the past, but it’s great to have this simple example of a finite field that’s already algebraically closed!

    Can you do F1 in a future post? I’ve wondered about that one too!

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