In mathematics, a Bézout domain is a form of a Prüfer domain. It is an integral domain in which the sum of two principal ideals is again a principal ideal. This means that for every pair of elements a Bézout identity holds, and that every finitely generated ideal is principal. Any principal ideal domain (PID) is a Bézout domain, but a Bézout domain need not be a Noetherian ring, so it could have non-finitely generated ideals (which obviously excludes being a PID); if so, it is not a unique factorization domain (UFD), but still is a GCD domain. The theory of Bézout domains retains many of the properties of PIDs, without requiring the Noetherian property. Bézout domains are named after the French mathematician Étienne Bézout.
A ring is a Bézout domain if and only if it is an integral domain in which any two elements have a greatest common divisor that is a linear combination of them: this is equivalent to the statement that an ideal which is generated by two elements is also generated by a single element, and induction demonstrates that all finitely generated ideals are principal. The expression of the greatest common divisor of two elements of a PID as a linear combination is often called Bézout's identity, whence the terminology.
Note that the above gcd condition is stronger than the mere existence of a gcd. An integral domain where a gcd exists for any two elements is called a GCD domain and thus Bézout domains are GCD domains. In particular, in a Bézout domain, irreducibles are prime (but as the algebraic integer example shows, they need not exist).
The equivalence of (1) and (2) was noted above. Since a Bézout domain is a GCD domain, it follows immediately that (3), (4) and (5) are equivalent. Finally, if R is not Noetherian, then there exists an infinite ascending chain of finitely generated ideals, so in a Bézout domain an infinite ascending chain of principal ideals. (4) and (2) are thus equivalent.
Consequently, one may view the equivalence "Bézout domain iff Prüfer domain and GCD-domain" as analogous to the more familiar "PID iff Dedekind domain and UFD".
Prüfer domains can be characterized as integral domains whose localizations at all prime (equivalently, at all maximal) ideals are valuation domains. So the localization of a Bézout domain at a prime ideal is a valuation domain. Since an invertible ideal in a local ring is principal, a local ring is a Bézout domain iff it is a valuation domain. Moreover, a valuation domain with noncyclic (equivalently non-discrete) value group is not Noetherian, and every totally ordered abelian group is the value group of some valuation domain. This gives many examples of non-Noetherian Bézout domains.
In noncommutative algebra, right Bézout domains are domains whose finitely generated right ideals are principal right ideals, that is, of the form xR for some x in R. One notable result is that a right Bézout domain is a right Ore domain. This fact is not interesting in the commutative case, since every commutative domain is an Ore domain. Right Bézout domains are also right semihereditary rings.
Some facts about modules over a PID extend to modules over a Bézout domain. Let R be a Bézout domain and M finitely generated module over R. Then M is flat if and only if it is torsion-free.