The primary components of positive critical binomial ideals

Liam O'Carroll, Francesc Planas-Vilanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A natural candidate for a generating set of the (necessarily prime) defining ideal of an n-dimensional monomial curve, when the ideal is an almost complete intersection, is a full set of n critical binomials. In a somewhat modified and more tractable context, we prove that, when the exponents are all positive, critical binomial ideals in our sense are not even unmixed for n >= 4, whereas for n <= 3 they are unmixed. We further give a complete description of their isolated primary components as the defining ideals of monomial curves with coefficients. This answers an open question on the number of primary components of Herzog-Northcott ideals, which comprise the case n = 3. Moreover, we find an explicit, concrete description of the irredundant embedded component (for n >= 4) and characterize when the hull of the ideal, i.e., the intersection of its isolated primary components, is prime. Note that these last results are independent of the characteristic of the ground field. Our techniques involve the Eisenbud-Sturmfels theory of binomial ideals and Laurent polynomial rings, together with theory of Smith Normal Form and of Fitting ideals. This gives a more transparent and completely general approach, replacing the theory of multiplicities used previously to treat the particular case n = 3. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-413
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Algebra
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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