Spring 2021

The Arithmetic of Elliptic Curves

Listed in: Mathematics and Statistics, as MATH-420


Gregory S. Call (Section 01)


An elliptic curve is the set of zeros of a cubic polynomial in two variables.  If the polynomial has rational coefficients, it is natural to ask for a description of those zeros whose coordinates are either integers or rational numbers.  Our study of elliptic curves will focus on this fundamental problem and reveal a fascinating interplay between algebra, geometry, analysis and number theory.  Topics discussed will include the geometry and group structure of elliptic curves, the Nagell-Lutz Theorem describing points of finite order, and the Mordell-Weil theorem on the finite generation of the group of rational points.  Additional topics may include elliptic curve cryptography, Lenstra's algorithm using elliptic curves to factor large integers, the Thue-Siegel Theorem on the finiteness of the set of integer points, and the crucial role the theory of elliptic curves played in Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.  By bringing together techniques from a wide range of mathematical disciplines, we plan to illustrate the unity of mathematics and introduce active areas of research.  Four class hours per week. 

In a typical week, two synchronous class meetings will be held, two asynchronous lectures will be posted, and ample office hours will be held to facilitate small group exchange and answer individual questions. 

Requisite:  MATH 350, or consent of the instructor.  Spring semester.  Professor Call. 


Attention to Research, Online Only, Quantitative Reasoning


2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021