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9.4 Vector spaces

One reason fields are so nice is that the theory of modules over fields (i.e. vector spaces), is very simple.

Lemma 9.4.1. If $k$ is a field, then every $k$-module is free.

Proof. Indeed, by linear algebra we know that a $k$-module (i.e. vector space) $V$ has a basis $\mathcal{B} \subset V$, which defines an isomorphism from the free vector space on $\mathcal{B}$ to $V$. $\square$

Lemma 9.4.2. Every exact sequence of modules over a field splits.

Proof. This follows from Lemma 9.4.1 as every vector space is a projective module. $\square$

This is another reason why much of the theory in future chapters will not say very much about fields, since modules behave in such a simple manner. Note that Lemma 9.4.2 is a statement about the category of $k$-modules (for $k$ a field), because the notion of exactness is inherently arrow-theoretic, i.e., makes use of purely categorical notions, and can in fact be phrased within a so-called abelian category.

Henceforth, since the study of modules over a field is linear algebra, and since the ideal theory of fields is not very interesting, we shall study what this chapter is really about: extensions of fields.

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