Complete intersection

In mathematics, an algebraic variety V in projective space is a complete intersection if the ideal of V is generated by exactly codim V elements. That is, if V has dimension m and lies in projective space Pn, there should exist nm homogeneous polynomials:[1]

in the homogeneous coordinates Xj, which generate all other homogeneous polynomials that vanish on V.

Geometrically, each Fi defines a hypersurface; the intersection of these hypersurfaces should be V. The intersection of nm hypersurfaces will always have dimension at least m, assuming that the field of scalars is an algebraically closed field such as the complex numbers. The question is essentially, can we get the dimension down to m, with no extra points in the intersection? This condition is fairly hard to check as soon as the codimension nm ≥ 2. When nm = 1 then V is automatically a hypersurface and there is nothing to prove.

Easy examples of complete intersections are given by hypersurfaces which are defined by the vanishing locus of a single polynomial. For example,

Another convenient way to construct a non complete intersection, which can never be a local complete intersection, is by taking the union of two different varieties where their dimensions do not agree. For example, the union of a line and a plane intersecting at a point is a classic example of this phenomenon. It is given by the scheme

A complete intersection has a multidegree, written as the tuple (properly though a multiset) of the degrees of defining hypersurfaces. For example, taking quadrics in P3 again, (2,2) is the multidegree of the complete intersection of two of them, which when they are in general position is an elliptic curve. The Hodge numbers of complex smooth complete intersections were worked out by Kunihiko Kodaira.

For more refined questions, the nature of the intersection has to be addressed more closely. The hypersurfaces may be required to satisfy a transversality condition (like their tangent spaces being in general position at intersection points). The intersection may be scheme-theoretic, in other words here the homogeneous ideal generated by the Fi(X0, ..., Xn) may be required to be the defining ideal of V, and not just have the correct radical. In commutative algebra, the complete intersection condition is translated into regular sequence terms, allowing the definition of local complete intersection, or after some localization an ideal has defining regular sequences.