Having been inspired by this question I was wondering, what are some important papers in arithmetic geometry and number theory that should be read by students interested in these fields?

There is a related wikipedia article along these lines, but it doesn't mention some important papers such as Mazur's "Modular Curves and the Eisenstein ideal" paper or Ribet's Inventiones 100 paper.


Serre's Duke 54 paper on his famous conjecture about modularity of mod $p$ Galois representations (now a theorem of Khare--Wintenberger and Kisin, and one of the highlights of 21st century number theory so far).

Khare has written some expository papers on his argument with Wintenberger, and so you might like to read these in conjunction with Serre's original paper.

Also, there is an old paper of Tate where he proves the level $1$, $p = 2$ case of Serre's conjecture by algebraic number theory methods. It serves as the base-case of a very sophisticated induction (on both the level and the prime $p$!) in the Khare--Wintenberger argument, and is a good read.

There is also Serre's much older (early 70s) paper on weight one modular forms and the associated Galois representations. (It's from a Durham proceedings.) It is a kind of expository companion to his paper with Deligne where they construct the Galois representations for weight one forms. The Deligne--Serre paper itself is also fantastic (but a more technical read than Serre's Durham paper).

To add to the Galois representation-theoretic suggestions:

There is Shimura's article A non-solvable reciprocity law, in which he describes the elliptic curve $X_0(11)$ and the relationship to its points mod $p$ and the Hecke eigenvalues of the (unique normalized) cuspform of level $11$.

As a supplement and motivational guide to the paper, you could look at the paper What is a reciprocity law by Wyman. (I found it very helpful as an overview to what reciprocity laws were about when I first began trying to learn number theory.)

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    $\begingroup$ Prof. Emerton: what a joy that Wyman paper is! Thank you for posting a link to it. $\endgroup$ – Sam Lichtenstein Jun 28 '12 at 5:32

Answer posted by Zev Chonoles in the comments:

Pete Clark recommends the "1958 paper of Lang and Tate, on Galois cohomology of abelian varieties", which I believe refers to the paper Principal Homogeneous Spaces over Abelian Varieties. I assume this is classified as arithmetic geometry?

  • $\begingroup$ Zev initially posted his comment as an answer before deciding to convert it into a comment. $\endgroup$ – user17762 Jun 24 '12 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Marvis I think it's good as answer. Should I delete it then? $\endgroup$ – Eugene Jun 24 '12 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ Not necessary. I just wanted to point it out since you may not be able to view deleted posts. $\endgroup$ – user17762 Jun 24 '12 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Marvis You're right. I'm not able to. Thank you for pointing it out. $\endgroup$ – Eugene Jun 24 '12 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that's the paper. It is indeed a beauty, and it is very high on the list of papers which have most directly inspired my own research. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 4 '12 at 9:49

"A Modular Construction of Unramified p-Extensions of $\textbf{Q}(\mu_p)$" by Ken Ribet

pdf: http://math.berkeley.edu/~ribet/Articles/invent_34.pdf


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