# Birational geometry

In mathematics, **birational geometry** is a field of algebraic geometry in which the goal is to determine when two algebraic varieties are isomorphic outside lower-dimensional subsets. This amounts to studying mappings that are given by rational functions rather than polynomials; the map may fail to be defined where the rational functions have poles.

A **birational map** from *X* to *Y* is a rational map *f* : *X* ⇢ *Y* such that there is a rational map *Y* ⇢ *X* inverse to *f*. A birational map induces an isomorphism from a nonempty open subset of *X* to a nonempty open subset of *Y*. In this case, *X* and *Y* are said to be **birational**, or **birationally equivalent**. In algebraic terms, two varieties over a field *k* are birational if and only if their function fields are isomorphic as extension fields of *k*.

A special case is a **birational morphism** *f* : *X* → *Y*, meaning a morphism which is birational. That is, *f* is defined everywhere, but its inverse may not be. Typically, this happens because a birational morphism contracts some subvarieties of *X* to points in *Y*.

A variety *X* is said to be **rational** if it is birational to affine space (or equivalently, to projective space) of some dimension. Rationality is a very natural property: it means that *X* minus some lower-dimensional subset can be identified with affine space minus some lower-dimensional subset.

Applying the map *f* with *t* a rational number gives a systematic construction of Pythagorean triples.

Every algebraic variety is birational to a projective variety (Chow's lemma). So, for the purposes of birational classification, it is enough to work only with projective varieties, and this is usually the most convenient setting.

Much deeper is Hironaka's 1964 theorem on resolution of singularities: over a field of characteristic 0 (such as the complex numbers), every variety is birational to a smooth projective variety. Given that, it is enough to classify smooth projective varieties up to birational equivalence.

In dimension 1, if two smooth projective curves are birational, then they are isomorphic. But that fails in dimension at least 2, by the blowing up construction. By blowing up, every smooth projective variety of dimension at least 2 is birational to infinitely many "bigger" varieties, for example with bigger Betti numbers.

This leads to the idea of minimal models: is there a unique simplest variety in each birational equivalence
class? The modern definition is that a projective variety *X* is **minimal** if the canonical line bundle *K _{X}* has nonnegative degree on every curve in

*X*; in other words,

*K*is nef. It is easy to check that blown-up varieties are never minimal.

_{X}At first, it is not clear how to show that there are any algebraic varieties which are not rational. In order to prove this, some birational invariants of algebraic varieties are needed. A **birational invariant** is any kind of number, ring, etc which is the same, or isomorphic, for all varieties that are birationally equivalent.

One useful set of birational invariants are the plurigenera. The canonical bundle of a smooth variety *X* of dimension *n* means the line bundle of *n*-forms *K _{X}* = Ω

^{n}, which is the

*n*th exterior power of the cotangent bundle of

*X*. For an integer

*d*, the

*d*th tensor power of

*K*is again a line bundle. For

_{X}*d*≥ 0, the vector space of global sections

*H*

^{0}(

*X*,

*K*

_{X}

^{d}) has the remarkable property that a birational map

*f*:

*X*⇢

*Y*between smooth projective varieties induces an isomorphism

*H*

^{0}(

*X*,

*K*

_{X}

^{d}) ≅

*H*

^{0}(

*Y*,

*K*

_{Y}

^{d}).

^{[2]}

For *d* ≥ 0, define the *d*th **plurigenus** *P*_{d} as the dimension of the vector space *H*^{0}(*X*, *K*_{X}^{d}); then the plurigenera are birational invariants for smooth projective varieties. In particular, if any plurigenus *P*_{d} with *d* > 0 is not zero, then *X* is not rational.

A fundamental birational invariant is the Kodaira dimension, which measures the growth of the plurigenera *P*_{d} as *d* goes to infinity. The Kodaira dimension divides all varieties of dimension *n* into *n* + 2 types, with Kodaira dimension −∞, 0, 1, ..., or *n*. This is a measure of the complexity of a variety, with projective space having Kodaira dimension −∞. The most complicated varieties are those with Kodaira dimension equal to their dimension *n*, called varieties of general type.

of the *r-*th tensor power of the cotangent bundle Ω^{1} with *r* ≥ 0, the vector space of global sections *H*^{0}(*X*, *E*(Ω^{1})) is a birational invariant for smooth projective varieties. In particular, the Hodge numbers

are birational invariants of *X*. (Most other Hodge numbers *h*^{p,q} are not birational invariants, as shown by blowing up.)

The fundamental group *π*_{1}(*X*) is a birational invariant for smooth complex projective varieties.

The "Weak factorization theorem", proved by Abramovich, Karu, Matsuki, and Włodarczyk (2002), says that any birational map between two smooth complex projective varieties can be decomposed into finitely many blow-ups or blow-downs of smooth subvarieties. This is important to know, but it can still be very hard to determine whether two smooth projective varieties are birational.

A projective variety *X* is called **minimal** if the canonical bundle *K _{X}* is nef. For

*X*of dimension 2, it is enough to consider smooth varieties in this definition. In dimensions at least 3, minimal varieties must be allowed to have certain mild singularities, for which

*K*is still well-behaved; these are called terminal singularities.

_{X}That being said, the minimal model conjecture would imply that every variety *X* is either covered by rational curves or birational to a minimal variety *Y*. When it exists, *Y* is called a **minimal model** of *X*.

Minimal models are not unique in dimensions at least 3, but any two minimal varieties which are birational are very close. For example, they are isomorphic outside subsets of codimension at least 2, and more precisely they are related by a sequence of flops. So the minimal model conjecture would give strong information about the birational classification of algebraic varieties.

The conjecture was proved in dimension 3 by Mori.^{[3]} There has been great progress in higher dimensions, although the general problem remains open. In particular, Birkar, Cascini, Hacon, and McKernan (2010)^{[4]} proved that every variety of general type over a field of characteristic zero has a minimal model.

Iskovskikh–Manin (1971) showed that the birational automorphism group of a smooth quartic 3-fold is equal to its automorphism group, which is finite. In this sense, quartic 3-folds are far from being rational, since the birational automorphism group of a rational variety is enormous. This phenomenon of "birational rigidity" has since been discovered in many other Fano fiber spaces.^{[citation needed]}

Birational geometry has found applications in other areas of geometry, but especially in traditional problems in algebraic geometry.

Famously the minimal model program was used to construct moduli spaces of varieties of general type by János Kollár and Nicholas Shepherd-Barron, now known as KSB moduli spaces.^{[5]}

Birational geometry has recently found important applications in the study of K-stability of Fano varieties through general existence results for Kähler–Einstein metrics, in the development of explicit invariants of Fano varieties to test K-stability by computing on birational models, and in the construction of moduli spaces of Fano varieties.^{[6]} Important results in birational geometry such as Birkar's proof of boundedness of Fano varieties have been used to prove existence results for moduli spaces.