This brief serie s of lectures o n algebraic ^-theor y i s addressed t o a n audience no t pre-
sumed t o be familiar wit h th e subject . Ther e is perhaps some merit therefor e i n beginning
with a n interesting theore m (Theore m 0 below) whose statemen t make s no reference t o
K-theory, bu t whose proof (th e onl y proof I know) invokes several basic techniques o f alge-
braic K- theory. Th e cours e will then evolv e a s an elaboration o f th e idea s introduced i n
The important recen t wor k o f Quillen, Karoubi, Gersten an d other s o n higher ^-theor y
(cf. Proc . Battelle Conf . on Algebraic AT-theory , Springer Lectur e Notes , pp. 341, 342, 343 )
will not be treated du e t o limited time , and th e formidabl e technica l preliminaries necessar y
for thi s material. Nevertheles s th e present note s can serve a s some historical motivatio n fo r
the latter, in particular fo r Quillen' s construction o f ^-group s fo r categorie s with exact se-
We shall use th e followin g notatio n throughout . Fo r a ring A, it s group o f units is
denoted A\ th e rin g o f n X n matrice s ove r A i s denoted M n(A), an d w e put
GLn(A) = Mn(A)\ th e genera l linear group o f invertibl e n X n matrice s ove r A. Th e
letters Z , Q, R, C, Fq denote , as usual, the integers , rational numbers , real numbers, com-
plex numbers, and a finite field wit h q elements , respectively.
Our first main objectiv e wil l be th e proof o f
0 . Let R be either Z or F [t] where t is an indeterminate. Let
A = R [t2, • ••, t
], a polynomial ring in d - 1 variables over R (where d 1). Then
GLn(A) is a finitely generated group for all n d + 2 .
Several comments abou t thi s theorem ar e in order here . Th e first is that it s statemen t
would have been understoo d an d appreciate d b y Frobenius , so that i t hardly give s the appear -
ance o f a theorem o f algebrai c £-theory .
The theore m admit s various natural generalisations. First o f al l it remain s valid if R
is allowed t o be th e rin g of algebrai c integers of a number field, or , more generally , a ring
of "^-integers " of a global field F ( = a finite extension o f Q o r o f F^(f)) . I n additio n
we may localise A b y invertin g an y number o f th e ^.'s , t o obtai n a ring of polynomial s
in som e variables, and "Lauren t polynomials " in th e others , and th e theore m remain s valid.
I n fact a n introduction t o Quillen ^ theor y wa s actuall y presente d i n th e lectures , i n plac e o f th e
material prepare d i n Chapte r 2 o f thes e notes .