Geometry of numbers


Geometry of numbers is the part of number theory which uses geometry for the study of algebraic numbers. Typically, a ring of algebraic integers is viewed as a lattice in and the study of these lattices provides fundamental information on algebraic numbers.[1] The geometry of numbers was initiated by Hermann Minkowski (1910).

Best rational approximants for π (green circle), e (blue diamond), ϕ (pink oblong), (√3)/2 (grey hexagon), 1/√2 (red octagon) and 1/√3 (orange triangle) calculated from their continued fraction expansions, plotted as slopes y/x with errors from their true values (black dashes)  

The geometry of numbers has a close relationship with other fields of mathematics, especially functional analysis and Diophantine approximation, the problem of finding rational numbers that approximate an irrational quantity.[2]

Minkowski's resultsEdit

Suppose that   is a lattice in  -dimensional Euclidean space   and   is a convex centrally symmetric body. Minkowski's theorem, sometimes called Minkowski's first theorem, states that if  , then   contains a nonzero vector in  .

The successive minimum   is defined to be the inf of the numbers   such that   contains   linearly independent vectors of  . Minkowski's theorem on successive minima, sometimes called Minkowski's second theorem, is a strengthening of his first theorem and states that[3]


Later research in the geometry of numbersEdit

In 1930-1960 research on the geometry of numbers was conducted by many number theorists (including Louis Mordell, Harold Davenport and Carl Ludwig Siegel). In recent years, Lenstra, Brion, and Barvinok have developed combinatorial theories that enumerate the lattice points in some convex bodies.[4]

Subspace theorem of W. M. SchmidtEdit

In the geometry of numbers, the subspace theorem was obtained by Wolfgang M. Schmidt in 1972.[5] It states that if n is a positive integer, and L1,...,Ln are linearly independent linear forms in n variables with algebraic coefficients and if ε>0 is any given real number, then the non-zero integer points x in n coordinates with


lie in a finite number of proper subspaces of Qn.

Influence on functional analysisEdit

Minkowski's geometry of numbers had a profound influence on functional analysis. Minkowski proved that symmetric convex bodies induce norms in finite-dimensional vector spaces. Minkowski's theorem was generalized to topological vector spaces by Kolmogorov, whose theorem states that the symmetric convex sets that are closed and bounded generate the topology of a Banach space.[6]

Researchers continue to study generalizations to star-shaped sets and other non-convex sets.[7]


  1. ^ MSC classification, 2010, available at, Classification 11HXX.
  2. ^ Schmidt's books. Grötschel et alii, Lovász et alii, Lovász.
  3. ^ Cassels (1971) p. 203
  4. ^ Grötschel et alii, Lovász et alii, Lovász, and Beck and Robins.
  5. ^ Schmidt, Wolfgang M. Norm form equations. Ann. Math. (2) 96 (1972), pp. 526-551. See also Schmidt's books; compare Bombieri and Vaaler and also Bombieri and Gubler.
  6. ^ For Kolmogorov's normability theorem, see Walter Rudin's Functional Analysis. For more results, see Schneider, and Thompson and see Kalton et alii.
  7. ^ Kalton et alii. Gardner


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  • Enrico Bombieri; Vaaler, J. (Feb 1983). "On Siegel's lemma". Inventiones Mathematicae. 73 (1): 11–32. Bibcode:1983InMat..73...11B. doi:10.1007/BF01393823. S2CID 121274024.
  • Enrico Bombieri & Walter Gubler (2006). Heights in Diophantine Geometry. Cambridge U. P.
  • J. W. S. Cassels. An Introduction to the Geometry of Numbers. Springer Classics in Mathematics, Springer-Verlag 1997 (reprint of 1959 and 1971 Springer-Verlag editions).
  • John Horton Conway and N. J. A. Sloane, Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups, Springer-Verlag, NY, 3rd ed., 1998.
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  • P. M. Gruber, Convex and discrete geometry, Springer-Verlag, New York, 2007.
  • P. M. Gruber, J. M. Wills (editors), Handbook of convex geometry. Vol. A. B, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1993.
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  • Kalton, Nigel J.; Peck, N. Tenney; Roberts, James W. (1984), An F-space sampler, London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series, 89, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. xii+240, ISBN 0-521-27585-7, MR 0808777
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  • Lenstra, A. K.; Lenstra, H. W. Jr.; Lovász, L. (1982). "Factoring polynomials with rational coefficients" (PDF). Mathematische Annalen. 261 (4): 515–534. doi:10.1007/BF01457454. hdl:1887/3810. MR 0682664. S2CID 5701340.
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  • Wolfgang M. Schmidt. Diophantine approximation. Lecture Notes in Mathematics 785. Springer. (1980 [1996 with minor corrections])
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