Sign up ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Let $R$ be a commutative ring with identity and $I,J,K$ be ideals of $R$. If $I\supseteq J$ or $I\supseteq K$, we have the following modular law $$ I\cap (J+K)=I\cap J + I\cap K$$

I was wondering if there are situations in which the modular law holds in which the hypothesis that $I$ contains at least one of $J,K$ is relaxed.

One example is when $R$ is a polynomial ring or power series ring and $I,J,K$ are monomial ideals.

Of course one containment always holds $I\cap (J+K)\supseteq I\cap J +I\cap K$. In what other situations does the other containment hold?

share|cite|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Such domains are known as Prüfer domains. They are non-Noetherian generalizations of Dedekind domains. Their ubiquity stems from a remarkable confluence of interesting characterizations. For example, they are those domains satisfy either the Chinese Remainder Theorem for ideals, or Gauss's Lemma for polynomial content ideals, or for ideals: $\rm\ A\cap (B + C) = A\cap B + A\cap C\:,\ $ or $\rm\ (A + B)\ (A \cap B) = A\ B\:,\ $ or $\rm\ A\supset B\ \Rightarrow\ A\:|\:B\ $ for fin. gen. $\rm\:A\:$ etc. It's been estimated that there are close to 100 such characterizations known, e.g. see my sci.math post for 30 odd characterizations. Below is an excerpt:

THEOREM $\ \ $ Let $\rm\:D\:$ be a domain. The following are equivalent:

(1) $\rm\:D\:$ is a Prüfer domain, i.e. every nonzero f.g. (finitely generated) ideal is invertible.
(2) Every nonzero two-generated ideal of $\rm\:D\:$ is invertible.
(3) $\rm\:D_P\:$ is a Prufer domain for every prime ideal $\rm\:P\:$ of $\rm\:D.\:$
(4) $\rm\:D_P\:$ is a valuation domain for every prime ideal $\rm\:P\:$ of $\rm\:D.\:$
(5) $\rm\:D_P\:$ is a valuation domain for every maximal ideal $\rm\:P\:$ of $\rm\:D.\:$
(6) Every nonzero f.g. ideal $\rm\:I\:$ of $\rm\:D\:$ is cancellable, i.e. $\rm\:I\:J = I\:K\ \Rightarrow\ J = K\:$
(7) $\: $ (6) restricted to f.g. $\rm\:J,K.$
(8) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and there is an $\rm\:n > 1\:$ such that for all $\rm\: a,b \in D,\ (a,b)^n = (a^n,b^n).$
(9) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and there is an $\rm\: n > 1\:$ such that for all $\rm\:a,b \in D,\ a^{n-1} b \ \in\ (a^n, b^n).$
(10) Each ideal $\rm\:I\:$ of $\rm\:D\:$ is complete, i.e. $\rm\:I = \cap\ I\: V_j\:$ as $\rm\:V_j\:$ run over all the valuation overrings of $\rm\:D.\:$
(11) Each f.g. ideal of $\rm\:D\:$ is an intersection of valuation ideals.
(12) If $\rm\:I,J,K\:$ are nonzero ideals of $\rm\:D,\:$ then $\rm\:I \cap (J + K) = I\cap J + I\cap K.$
(13) If $\rm\:I,J,K\:$ are nonzero ideals of $\rm\:D,\:$ then $\rm\:I\ (J \cap K) = I\:J\cap I\:K.$
(14) If $\rm\:I,J\:$ are nonzero ideals of $\rm\:D,\:$ then $\rm\:(I + J)\ (I \cap J) = I\:J.\ $ ($\rm LCM\times GCD$ law)
(15) If $\rm\:I,J,K\:$ are nonzero ideals of $\rm\:D,\:$ with $\rm\:K\:$ f.g. then $\rm\:(I + J):K = I:K + J:K.$
(16) For any two elements $\rm\:a,b \in D,\ (a:b) + (b:a) = D.$
(17) If $\rm\:I,J,K\:$ are nonzero ideals of $\rm\:D\:$ with $\rm\:I,J\:$ f.g. then $\rm\:K:(I \cap J) = K:I + K:J.$
(18) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and each overring of $\rm\:D\:$ is the intersection of localizations of $\rm\:D.\:$
(19) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and each overring of $\rm\:D\:$ is the intersection of quotient rings of $\rm\:D.\:$
(20) Each overring of $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed.
(21) Each overring of $\rm\:D\:$ is flat over $\rm\:D.\:$
(22) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and prime ideals of overrings of are extensions of prime ideals of $\rm\:D.$
(23) $\rm\:D\:$ is integrally closed and for each prime ideal $\rm\:P\:$ of $\rm\:D,\:$ and each overring $\rm\:S\:$ of $\rm\:D,\:$ there is at most one prime ideal of $\rm\:S\:$ lying over $\rm\:P.\:$
(24) For polynomials $\rm\:f,g \in D[x],\ c(fg) = c(f)\: c(g)\:$ where for a polynomial $\rm\:h \in D[x],\ c(h)\:$ denotes the "content" ideal of $\rm\:D\:$ generated by the coefficients of $\rm\:h.\:$ (Gauss' Lemma)
(25) Ideals in $\rm\:D\:$ are integrally closed.
(26) If $\rm\:I,J\:$ are ideals with $\rm\:I\:$ f.g. then $\rm\: I\supset J\ \Rightarrow\ I|J.$ (contains $\:\Rightarrow\:$ divides)
(27) the Chinese Remainder Theorem $\rm(CRT)$ holds true in $\rm\:D\:,\:$ i.e. a system of congruences $\rm\:x\equiv x_j\ (mod\ I_j)\:$ is solvable iff $\rm\:x_j\equiv x_k\ (mod\ I_j + I_k).$
(28) Each finitely generated torsion-free $\rm\,D$-module is projective.

share|cite|improve this answer
This is absolutely great. Thanks a lot. I will have to spend some time to study all these characterizations, but this is exactly what I wanted. – Timothy Wagner Dec 13 '10 at 2:06
@Timothy: Enjoy - they are fascinating to study. – Bill Dubuque Dec 13 '10 at 2:08
Would you recommend any survey papers that discuss the equivalent characterizations? – Timothy Wagner Dec 13 '10 at 2:09
@Timothy: The references listed in the Wikipedia article are a good root to start from. Many of the original research articles are online and can easily be located by keyword searches. I don't recall any comprehensive survey articles. Please let me know if you locate such. – Bill Dubuque Dec 13 '10 at 2:56
@Bill: Yeah I started looking through the wikipedia article as well, but thought I can ask for your inputs as well. I found a book on Prufer domains. On page 2 the authors discuss several characterizations and refer to a book by Gilmer for more.… – Timothy Wagner Dec 13 '10 at 3:05

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.