Forward to §8.1 | Up | Table of Contents

Chapter 8: Galois Theory


The theory of solvability of polynomial equations developed by Galois began with the attempt to find formulas for the solutions of polynomial equations of degree five. After the discovery of the fundamental theorem of algebra, the question of proving the existence of solutions changed to determining the form of the solutions. The question was whether or not the solutions could be expressed in a reasonable way by extracting square roots, cube roots, etc., of combinations of the coefficients of the polynomial. Galois saw that this involved a comparison of two fields, by determining how the field generated by the coefficients sits inside the larger field generated by the solutions of the equation.

This would be a good time to read (in succession) all of the chapter introductions in Abstract Algebra. You will also find references to Galois and Galois theory on the web. Here are a few sites that we can recommend:

Quadratic, cubic and quartic equations
Solving the quintic with Mathematica
Timelineof developments in solving the quintic
The development of group theory
Biographies of Galois, from: St. Andrews | Oxford | Wolfram Research

Forward to §8.1 | Up | Table of Contents | About this document