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Hint: If J is an isotropic ideal and I is an arbitrary right ideal, show
that rdim J ’ rdim(I ⊥ © J) ¤ rdim I ’ rdim(I © J). If I also is isotropic and
rdim I ¤ rdim J, use this relation to show I ⊥ © J ‚ I, and conclude that
I + (I ⊥ © J) is an isotropic ideal which strictly contains I.
2. (Bayer-Fluckiger-Shapiro-Tignol [?]) Let (A, σ) be a central simple algebra with
orthogonal involution over a ¬eld F of characteristic di¬erent from 2. Show that
(A, σ) is hyperbolic if and only if
(A, σ) M2 (F ) — A0 , σh — σ0
for some central simple algebra with orthogonal involution (A0 , σ0 ), where σh is
the adjoint involution with respect to some hyperbolic 2-dimensional symmetric
bilinear form. Use this result to give examples of central simple algebras with
involution (A, σ), (B, „ ), (C, ν) such that (A, σ) — (B, „ ) (A, σ) — (C, ν) and
(B, „ ) (C, ν).

Let (σ, f ) be a quadratic pair on a central simple algebra A over a ¬eld F
of characteristic 2. Show that (A, σ, f ) is hyperbolic if and only if
(A, σ, f ) M2 (F ) — A0 , γh — σ0 , fh—
for some central simple algebra with involution of the ¬rst kind (A0 , σ0 ), where
(γh , fh— ) is the quadratic pair on M2 (F ) associated with a hyperbolic 2-dimen-
sional quadratic form.
Hint: If e ∈ A is an idempotent such that σ(e) = 1 ’ e, use (??) to ¬nd
a symmetric element t ∈ A— such that tσ(e)t’1 = e, and show that e, etσ(e),
σ(e)te and σ(e) span a subalgebra isomorphic to M2 (F ).
3. Let (A, σ) be a central simple F -algebra with involution of orthogonal type
and let K ‚ A be a sub¬eld containing F . Suppose K consists of symmetric
elements, so that the restriction σ = σ|CA K of σ to the centralizer of K in A
is an involution of orthogonal type. Prove that disc σ = NK/F (disc σ ).
4. Let Q = (a, b)F be a quaternion algebra over a ¬eld F of characteristic di¬erent
from 2. Show that the set of discriminants of orthogonal involutions on Q is
the set of represented values of the quadratic form a, b, ’ab .
5. (Tits [?]) Let (A, σ) be a central simple algebra of even degree with involution
of the ¬rst kind. Assume that σ is orthogonal if char F = 2, and that it is sym-
plectic if char F = 2. For any a ∈ Alt(A, σ) © A— whose reduced characteristic
polynomial is separable, let
H = { x ∈ Alt(A, σ) | xa = ax }.
Show that a’1 H is an ´tale subalgebra of A of dimension deg A/2. (The
space H is called a Cartan subspace in Tits [?].)
Hint: See Lemma (??).
6. Let (A, σ) be a central simple algebra with orthogonal involution over a ¬eld F
of characteristic di¬erent from 2. For brevity, write C for C(A, σ) its Cli¬ord
algebra, Z for Z(A, σ) the center of C and B for B(A, σ) the Cli¬ord bimodule.
Endow A—F C with the C-bimodule structure such that c1 ·(a—c)·c2 = a—c1 cc2
for a ∈ A and c, c1 , c2 ∈ C.
(a) Show that there is an isomorphism of C-bimodules ψ : B —C B ’ A —F C
which in the split case satis¬es
ψ (v1 — c1 ) — (v2 — c2 ) = (v1 — v2 ) — c1 c2
under the standard identi¬cations A = V — V , B = V — C1 (V, q) and
C = C0 (V, q).
(b) De¬ne a hermitian form H : B — B ’ A —F Z by
H(x, y) = IdA — (ι —¦ TrdC ) ψ(x — y ω ) for x, y ∈ B.
Show that the natural isomorphism ν of (??) is an isomorphism of algebras
with involution

ν : (ι C op , ι σ op ) —Z (C, σ) ’ EndA—Z (B), σH .

7. To each permutation π ∈ Sk , associate a permutation π — of {0, 1, . . . , k ’ 1} by
composing the following bijections:
π ’1
{0, . . . , k ’ 1} ’’ {1, . . . , k} ’ ’ {1, . . . , k} ’’ {0, . . . , k ’ 1}
’ ’

where the last map carries k to 0 and leaves every i between 1 and k ’ 1
invariant. Consider the decomposition of π — into disjoint cycles (including the
cycles of length 1):
π — = (0, ±1 , . . . , ±r )(β1 , . . . , βs ) · · · (γ1 , . . . , γt ).
Since the map Sandk : A—k ’ HomF (A—k’1 , A) is bijective (see (??)), there is
a unique element xπ ∈ A—k such that for b1 , . . . , bk’1 ∈ A:

Sandk (xπ )(b1 — · · · — bk’1 ) =
b±1 · · · b±r TrdA (bβ1 · · · bβs ) · · · TrdA (bγ1 · · · bγt ).
Show that xπ = gk (π).
Show that s2 = k! sk .
8. k
9. Show by a direct computation that if A is a quaternion algebra, the canonical
involution on A = »1 A is the quaternion conjugation.
10. Let (B, „ ) be a central simple F -algebra with unitary involution. Assume that
deg(B, „ ) is divisible by 4 and that char F = 2, so that the canonical involution
„ on D(B, „ ) has orthogonal type. Show that disc „ = 1 if deg(B, „ ) is not
a power of 2 and that disc „ = ± · F —2 if deg(B, „ ) is a power of 2 and K
F [X]/(X 2 ’ ±).
Hint: Reduce to the split case by scalar extension to some splitting ¬eld
of B in which F is algebraically closed (for instance the function ¬eld of the
Weil transfer of the Severi-Brauer variety of B). Let deg(B, „ ) = n = 2m.
Using the same notation as in (??), de¬ne a map v ∈ EndF ( m V0 ) as follows:
consider a partition of the subsets S ‚ {1, . . . , n} of cardinality m into two
classes C, C such that the complement of every S ∈ C lies in C and vice-
versa; then set v(eS ) = eS if S ∈ C, v(eS ) = ’eS if S ∈ C . Show that

v — ± ∈ Skew D(B, „ ), „ and use this element to compute disc „ .
11. Let K/F be a quadratic extension with non-trivial automorphism ι, and let
± ∈ F — , β ∈ K — . Assume F contains a primitive 2m-th root of unity ξ and
consider the algebra B of degree 2m over K generated by two elements i, j
subject to the following conditions:
i2m = ± j 2m = ι(β)/β ji = ξij.
(a) Show that there is a unitary involution „ on B such that „ (i) = i and
„ (j) = j ’1 .
(b) Show that D(B, „ ) ∼ ±, NK/F (β) F —F K, (’1)m ± F .
Hint: Let X = RK/F SB(B) be the transfer of the Severi-Brauer variety
of B. The algebra B splits over K —F F (X), but the scalar extension map
Br(F ) ’ Br F (X) is injective (see Merkurjev-Tignol [?]); so it su¬ces to
prove the claim when B is split.
12. Let V be a vector space of dimension n over a ¬eld F . Fix k with 1 ¤ k ¤ n’1,
k n
and let = n ’ k. The canonical pairing § : V— V’ V induces an
V )— ’
( V
which is uniquely determined up to a factor in F — , hence the pairing also
induces a canonical isomorphism
V )— ’ EndF (
ψk, : EndF ( V ).

Our aim in this exercise is to de¬ne a corresponding isomorphism for non-split
Let A be a central simple F -algebra of degree n. For 2 ¤ k ¤ n, set:
sgn(π)gk (π) ∈ A—k
sk =

(as in §??), and extend this de¬nition by setting s1 = 1. Let = n ’ k, where
1 ¤ k ¤ n ’ 1.
(a) Generalize (??) by showing that sn ∈ A—n · (sk — s ).
We may thus consider the right ideal
f ∈ EndA—n A—n (sk — s ) A—n sf = {0} ‚ »k A — » A.
I= n

(b) Using exercise ?? of Chapter ??, show that this right ideal de¬nes a canon-
ical isomorphism

•k, : »k Aop ’ » A.

Show that if A = EndF V , then •k, = ψk, under the canonical identi¬-
cations »k Aop = EndF ( V ) and » A = EndF ( V ).
13. (Wadsworth, unpublished) The aim of this exercise is to give examples of central
simple algebras with unitary involution whose discriminant algebra has index 4.
Let F0 be an arbitrary ¬eld of characteristic di¬erent from 2 and let K =
F0 (x, y, z) be the ¬eld of rational fractions in three independent indeterminates
over F0 . Denote by ι the automorphism of K which leaves F0 (x, y) elementwise
invariant and maps z to ’z, and let F = F0 (x, y, z 2 ) be the invariant sub¬eld.
Consider the quaternion algebras Q0 = (x, y)F and Q = Q0 —F K, and de¬ne an
involution θ on Q by θ = γ0 — ι where γ0 is the quaternion conjugation on Q0 .
Finally, let B = Mn (Q) for an arbitrary odd integer n > 1, and endow B with
the involution — de¬ned by
(aij )—
1¤i,j¤n = θ(aij ) .

(a) Show that D(B, — ) ∼ D(Q, θ)—n ∼ D(Q, θ) ∼ Q0 .
Let c1 , . . . , cn ∈ Sym(Q, θ) © Q— and d = diag(c1 , . . . , cn ) ∈ B. De¬ne another
involution of unitary type on B by „ = Int(d) —¦ — .
(a) Show that
D(B, „ ) ∼ D(B, — ) —F z 2 , NrdB (d) F
∼ (x, y)F — z , NrdQ (c1 ) · · · NrdQ (cn ) .
(b) Show that the algebra D(B, „ ) has index 4 if c1 = z 2 + zi, c2 = z 2 + zj
and c3 = · · · = cn = 1.
14. (Yanchevski˜ [?, Proposition 1.4]) Let σ, σ be involutions on a central simple
algebra A over a ¬eld F of characteristic di¬erent from 2. Show that if σ and
σ have the same restriction to the center of A and Sym(A, σ) = Sym(A, σ ),
then σ = σ .
Hint: If σ and σ are of the ¬rst kind, use (??).
15. Let (A, σ) be a central simple algebra with involution of the ¬rst kind over a
¬eld F of arbitrary characteristic. Show that a nonsingular symmetric bilinear
form on Symd(A, σ) may be de¬ned as follows: for x, y ∈ Symd(A, σ), pick
y ∈ A such that y = y + σ(y ), and let T (x, y) = TrdA (xy ). Mimic this
construction to de¬ne a nonsingular symmetric bilinear form on Alt(A, σ).

§??. On the same model as Severi-Brauer varieties, varieties of isotropic ideals,
known as Borel varieties, or homogeneous varieties, or twisted ¬‚ag varieties, are
associated to an algebra with involution. These varieties can also be de¬ned as va-
rieties of parabolic subgroups of a certain type in the associated simply connected
group: see Borel-Tits [?]; their function ¬elds are the generic splitting ¬elds investi-
gated by Kersten and Rehmann [?]. In particular, the variety of isotropic ideals of
reduced dimension 1 in a central simple algebra with orthogonal involution (A, σ)
of characteristic di¬erent from 2 may be regarded as a twisted form of a quadric:
after scalar extension to a splitting ¬eld L of A, it yields the quadric q = 0 where q
is a quadratic form whose adjoint involution is σL . These twisted forms of quadrics
are termed involution varieties by Tao [?], who studied their K-groups to obtain
index reduction formulas for their function ¬elds. Tao™s results were generalized
to arbitrary Borel varieties by Merkurjev-Panin-Wadsworth [?], [?]. The Brauer
group of a Borel variety is determined in Merkurjev-Tignol [?].
The notion of index in (??) is inspired by Tits™ de¬nition of index for a semi-
simple linear algebraic group [?, (2.3)]. Hyperbolic involutions are de¬ned in Bayer-
Fluckiger-Shapiro-Tignol [?]. Example (??) is borrowed from Dejai¬e [?] where a
notion of orthogonal sum for algebras with involution is investigated.
§??. The discriminant of an orthogonal involution on a central simple alge-
bra of even degree over a ¬eld of characteristic di¬erent from 2 ¬rst appeared in
Jacobson [?] as the center of the (generalized, even) Cli¬ord algebra. The approach
in Tits [?] applies also in characteristic 2; it is based on generalized quadratic forms
instead of quadratic pairs. For involutions, the more direct de¬nition presented here
is due to Knus-Parimala-Sridharan [?]. Earlier work of Knus-Parimala-Sridharan [?]
used another de¬nition in terms of generalized pfa¬an maps.
A short, direct proof of (??) is given in Kersten [?, (3.1)]; the idea is to split
the algebra by a scalar extension in which the base ¬eld is algebraically closed.
The set of determinants of orthogonal involutions on a central simple algebra A
of characteristic di¬erent from 2 has been investigated by Parimala-Sridharan-
Suresh [?]. It turns out that, except in the case where A is a quaternion algebra
(where the set of determinants is easily determined, see Exercise ??), the set of
determinants is the group of reduced norms of A modulo squares:

det σ = Nrd(A— ) · F —2 .

§??. The ¬rst de¬nition of Cli¬ord algebra for an algebra with orthogonal
involution of characteristic di¬erent from 2 is due to Jacobson [?]; it was obtained
by Galois descent. A variant of Jacobson™s construction was proposed by Seip-
Hornix [?] for the case of central simple algebras of Schur index 2. Her de¬nition
also covers the characteristic 2 case. Our treatment owes much to Tits [?]. In
particular, the description of the center of the Cli¬ord algebra in §?? and the proof
of (??) closely follow Tits™ paper. Other proofs of (??) were given by Allen [?,
Theorem 3] and Van Drooge (thesis, Utrecht, 1967).
If deg A is divisible by 8, the canonical involution σ on C(A, σ, f ) is part of a
canonical quadratic pair (σ, f ). If A is split and the quadratic pair (σ, f ) is hyper-
bolic, we may de¬ne this canonical pair as follows: representing A = EndF H(U )

we have as in (??)
C(A, σ, f ) = C0 H(U ) End( U ) — End( U ) ‚ End( U ).
0 1
Let m = dim U . For ξ ∈ U , let ξ [r] be the component of ξ in U . Fix a nonzero
linear form s : U ’ F which vanishes on U for r < m and de¬ne a quadratic
form q§ : U ’ F by

§ ξ [m’r] + q(ξ [m/2] )
q§ (ξ) = s r<m/2 ξ

m/2 m
where q : U’ U is the canonical quadratic map of (??) and is the
involution on U which is the identity on U (see the proof of (??)). For i = 0,
1, let qi be the restriction of q§ to i U . The pair (q0 , q1 ) may be viewed as a
quadratic form
(q0 , q1 ) : U— U ’ F — F.
0 1

The canonical quadratic pair on End( 0 U )—End( 1 U ) is associated to this quad-
ratic form. In the general case, the canonical quadratic pair on C(A, σ, f ) can be
de¬ned by Galois descent. The canonical involution on the Cli¬ord algebra of a
central simple algebra with hyperbolic involution (of characteristic di¬erent from 2)
has been investigated by Garibaldi [?].
Cli¬ord algebras of tensor products of central simple algebras with involution
have been determined by Tao [?]. Let (A, σ) = (A1 , σ1 )—F (A2 , σ2 ) where A1 , A2 are
central simple algebras of even degree over a ¬eld F of characteristic di¬erent from 2,
and σ1 , σ2 are involutions which are either both orthogonal or both symplectic,
so that σ is an orthogonal involution of trivial discriminant, by (??). It follows
from (??) that the Cli¬ord algebra C(A, σ) decomposes into a direct product of
two central simple F -algebras: C(A, σ) = C + (A, σ) — C ’ (A, σ). Tao proves in [?,
Theorems 4.12, 4.14, 4.16]:
(a) Suppose σ1 , σ2 are orthogonal and denote by Q the quaternion algebra
Q = (disc σ1 , disc σ2 )F .
(i) If deg A1 or deg A2 is divisible by 4, then one of the algebras C± (A, σ)
is Brauer-equivalent to A —F Q and the other one to Q.
(ii) If deg A1 ≡ deg A2 ≡ 2 mod 4, then one of the algebras C± (A, σ) is
Brauer-equivalent to A1 —F Q and the other one to A2 —F Q.
(b) Suppose σ1 , σ2 are symplectic.
(i) If deg A1 or deg A2 is divisible by 4, then one of the algebras C± (A, σ)
is split and the other one is Brauer-equivalent to A.
(ii) If deg A1 ≡ deg A2 ≡ 2 mod 4, then one of the algebras C± (A, σ) is
Brauer-equivalent to A1 and the other one to A2 .
§??. In characteristic di¬erent from 2, the bimodule B(A, σ) is de¬ned by
Galois descent in Merkurjev-Tignol [?]. The fundamental relations in (??) between
a central simple algebra with orthogonal involution and its Cli¬ord algebra have
been observed by several authors: (??) was ¬rst proved by Jacobson [?, Theorem 4]
in the case where Z = F —F . In the same special case, proofs of (??) and (??) have
been given by Tits [?, Proposition 7], [?, 6.2]. In the general case, these relations
have been established by Tamagawa [?] and by Tao [?]. See (??) for a cohomological
proof of the fundamental relations in characteristic di¬erent from 2 and Exercise ??
of Chapter ?? for another cohomological proof valid in arbitrary characteristic.
Note that the bimodule B(A, σ) carries a canonical hermitian form which may

be used to strengthen (??) into an isomorphism of algebras with involution: see
Exercise ??.
§??. The canonical representation of the symmetric group Sk in the group of
invertible elements of A—k was observed by Haile [?, Lemma 1.1] and Saltman [?].
Note that if k = ind A, (??) shows that A—k is split; therefore the exponent of A
divides its index. Indeed, the purpose of Saltman™s paper is to give an easy direct
proof (also valid for Azumaya algebras) of the fact that the Brauer group is torsion.
Another approach to the »-construction, using Severi-Brauer varieties, is due to
Suslin [?].
The canonical quadratic map on V , where V is a 2m-dimensional vector
space over a ¬eld of characteristic 2 (see (??)), is due to Papy [?]. It is part of a
general construction of reduced p-th powers in exterior algebras of vector spaces
over ¬elds of characteristic p.
The discriminant algebra D(B, „ ) also arises from representations of classical
algebraic groups of type 2An : see Tits [?]. If the characteristic does not divide
2 deg B, its Brauer class can be obtained by reduction modulo 2 of a cohomological
invariant t(B, „ ) called the Tits class, see (??). This invariant has been investigated
by Qu´guiner [?], [?]. In [?, Proposition 11], Qu´guiner shows that (??) can be
e e
derived from (??) if char F = 2; she also considers the analogue of (??) where
the involution „0 is symplectic instead of orthogonal, and proves that D(B, „ ) is
Brauer-equivalent to B0 in this case. (Note that Qu´guiner™s “determinant class
modulo 2” di¬ers from the Brauer class of D(B, „ ) by the class of the quaternion
algebra (K, ’1)F if deg B ≡ 2 mod 4.)
§??. The idea to consider the form T(A,σ) as an invariant of the involution
σ dates back to Weil [?]. The relation between the determinant of an orthogonal
involution σ and the determinant of the bilinear form Tσ (in characteristic di¬erent
from 2) was observed by Lewis [?] and Qu´guiner [?], who also computed the Hasse
invariant s(Qσ ) of the quadratic form Qσ (x) = TrdA σ(x)x associated to T(A,σ) .
The result is the following: for an involution σ on a central simple algebra A of
degree n,
 n [A] + (’1, det σ)F if n is even and σ is orthogonal,
n n
s(Qσ ) = 2 [A] + 2 (’1, ’1)F if n is even and σ is symplectic,

0 if n is odd.
In Lewis™ paper [?], these relations are obtained by comparing the Hasse invariant
of Qσ and of QA (x) = TrdA (x2 ) through (??). Qu´guiner [?] also gives the com-
putation of the Hasse invariant of the quadratic forms Q+ and Q’ which are the
σ σ
restrictions of Qσ to Sym(A, σ) and Skew(A, σ) respectively. Just as for Qσ , the
result only depends on the parity of n and on the type and discriminant of σ.
The signature of an involution of the ¬rst kind was ¬rst de¬ned by Lewis-
Tignol [?]. The corresponding notion for involutions of the second kind is due to
Qu´guiner [?].
Besides the classical invariants considered in this chapter, there are also “higher
cohomological invariants” de¬ned by Rost (to appear) by means of simply connected
algebraic groups, with values in Galois cohomology groups of degree 3. See §?? for
a general discussion of cohomological invariants. Some special cases are considered
in the following chapters: see §?? for the case of symplectic involutions on central
simple algebras of degree 4 and §?? for the case of unitary involutions on central

simple algebras of degree 3. (In the same spirit, see §?? for an H 3 -invariant of
Albert algebras.) Another particular instance dates back to Jacobson [?]: if A is a
central simple F -algebra of index 2 whose degree is divisible by 4, we may represent
A = EndQ (V ) for some vector space V of even dimension over a quaternion F -
algebra Q. According to (??), every symplectic involution σ on A is adjoint to
some hermitian form h on V with respect to the canonical involution of Q. Assume
char F = 2 and let h = ±1 , . . . , ±n be a diagonalization of h; then ±1 , . . . , ±n ∈ F —
and the element (’1)n/2 ±1 · · · ±n ·NrdQ (Q— ) ∈ F — / NrdQ (Q— ) is an invariant of σ.
There is an alternate description of this invariant, which emphasizes the relation
with Rost™s cohomological approach: we may associate to σ the quadratic form
qσ = 1, ’(’1)n/2 ±1 · · · ±n — nQ ∈ I 3 F where nQ is the reduced norm form of Q,
or the cup product (’1)n/2 ±1 · · · ±n ∪ [Q] ∈ H 3 (F, µ2 ), see (??).


In this chapter, we investigate the automorphism groups of central simple alge-
bras with involution. The inner automorphisms which preserve the involution are
induced by elements which we call similitudes, and the automorphism group of a
central simple algebra with involution is the quotient of the group of similitudes by
the multiplicative group of the center. The various groups thus de¬ned are natu-
rally endowed with a structure of linear algebraic group; they may then be seen as
twisted forms of orthogonal, symplectic or unitary groups, depending on the type of
the involution. This point of view will be developed in Chapter ??. Here, however,
we content ourselves with a more elementary viewpoint, considering the groups of
rational points of the corresponding algebraic groups.
After a ¬rst section which contains general de¬nitions and results valid for all
types, we then focus on quadratic pairs and unitary involutions, where additional
information can be derived from the algebra invariants de¬ned in Chapter ??. In
the orthogonal case, we also use the Cli¬ord algebra and the Cli¬ord bimodule to
de¬ne Cli¬ord groups and spin groups.

§12. General Properties
To motivate our de¬nition of similitude for an algebra with involution, we ¬rst
consider the split case, where the algebra consists of endomorphisms of bilinear or
hermitian spaces.

12.A. The split case. We treat separately the cases of bilinear, hermitian
and quadratic spaces, although the basic de¬nitions are the same, to emphasize the
special features of these various cases.
Bilinear spaces. Let (V, b) be a nonsingular symmetric or alternating bilinear
space over an arbitrary ¬eld F . A similitude of (V, b) is a linear map g : V ’ V for
which there exists a constant ± ∈ F — such that
(12.1) b g(v), g(w) = ±b(v, w) for v, w ∈ V .
The factor ± is called the multiplier of the similitude g. A similitude with mul-
tiplier 1 is called an isometry. The similitudes of the bilinear space (V, b) form a
group denoted Sim(V, b) , and the map
µ : Sim(V, b) ’ F —
which carries every similitude to its multiplier is a group homomorphism. By
de¬nition, the kernel of this map is the group of isometries of (V, b), which we write
Iso(V, b). We also de¬ne the group PSim(V, b) of projective similitudes by
PSim(V, b) = Sim(V, b)/F — .

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