I have recently started a Phd in the subject of algebraic curves and arithmetic geometry. In general I have a good background in algebra and analysis, but only an introductory course in algebraic geometry (varieties and schemes). I also lack a thorough knowledge of geometry, with only a course in manifolds and algebraic topology. My teacher suggested learning Riemann surfaces first, up to the Riemann-Roch theorem, and then building on that. My questions are the following:

  1. What are the relevant subjects that I must learn in my first year? (Besides Riemann surfaces, I believe function fields are related.)
  2. What are some good books for self-learning in the subject? I found Rick Miranda's book astonishing but a bit slow.
  3. Reading Fulton's section on Riemann surfaces (from the algebraic topology book), I noticed that I should read cohomology from scratch. What is a good (and fast) introduction for that?

Thanks a lot!


1 Answer 1


I would advise Forster's book, Lectures on Riemann surfaces. It is a incredible book, introducing Riemann surfaces from scratch in the first chapter and studying all basic properties of compact Riemann surfaces (Riemann-Roch, Abel-Jacobi and Serre Duality) using the langage of sheaf cohomology, which is introduced in a very concrete way using the Cech complex. It is definitely less slow than Miranda's book.

Another book which I really liked is the book "Introduction to compact Riemann surfaces and dessin d'enfants". It is more oriented into the relation between algebraic curves, Riemann surfaces and field extension of degree 1. Lots of examples are treated (especially hyperelliptic curves if I remember well). It is also a wonderful book, and the second part of the book is devoted to dessins d'enfants and the incredible Beyli theorem.

Finally, since you are doing arithmetic geometry, I would suggest also more classical references, for example Liu's book "Algebraic Geometry and Arithmetic Curves", and Silverman's book "The Arithmetic of Elliptic Curves".

  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean Silverman's The Arithmetic of Elliptic Curves? I'm guessing you do, but for the record, he does have an undergraduate book together with Tate: Rational Points on Elliptic Curves. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Jan 3, 2021 at 9:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JW : Thanks for the corrections ! I meant indeed "The arithmetic of elliptic curves". Probably worth a second edit. $\endgroup$ Jan 3, 2021 at 10:02

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