# Étale topology

In algebraic geometry, the **étale topology** is a Grothendieck topology on the category of schemes which has properties similar to the Euclidean topology, but unlike the Euclidean topology, it is also defined in positive characteristic. The étale topology was originally introduced by Grothendieck to define étale cohomology, and this is still the étale topology's most well-known use.

## Definitions

For any scheme *X*, let Ét(*X*) be the category of all étale morphisms from a scheme to *X*. This is the analog of the category of open subsets of *X* (that is, the category whose objects are varieties and whose morphisms are open immersions). Its objects can be informally thought of as étale open subsets of *X*. The intersection of two objects corresponds to their fiber product over *X*. Ét(*X*) is a large category, meaning that its objects do not form a set.

An **étale presheaf** on *X* is a contravariant functor from Ét(*X*) to the category of sets. A presheaf *F* is called an **étale sheaf** if it satisfies the analog of the usual gluing condition for sheaves on topological spaces. That is, *F* is an étale sheaf if and only if the following condition is true. Suppose that *U* → *X* is an object of Ét(*X*) and that *U*_{i} → *U* is a jointly surjective family of étale morphisms over *X*. For each *i*, choose a section *x*_{i} of *F* over *U*_{i}. The projection map *U*_{i} × *U*_{j} → *U*_{i}, which is loosely speaking the inclusion of the intersection of *U*_{i} and *U*_{j} in *U*_{i}, induces a restriction map *F*(*U*_{i}) → *F*(*U*_{i} × *U*_{j}). If for all *i* and *j* the restrictions of *x*_{i} and *x*_{j} to *U*_{i} × *U*_{j} are equal, then there must exist a unique section *x* of *F* over *U* which restricts to *x*_{i} for all *i*.

Suppose that *X* is a Noetherian scheme. An abelian étale sheaf *F* on *X* is called **finite locally constant** if it is a representable functor which can be represented by an étale cover of *X*. It is called **constructible** if *X* can be covered by a finite family of subschemes on each of which the restriction of *F* is finite locally constant. It is called **torsion** if *F*(*U*) is a torsion group for all étale covers *U* of *X*. Finite locally constant sheaves are constructible, and constructible sheaves are torsion. Every torsion sheaf is a filtered inductive limit of constructible sheaves.

Grothendieck originally introduced the machinery of Grothendieck topologies and topoi to define the étale topology. In this language, the definition of the étale topology is succinct but abstract: It is the topology generated by the pretopology whose covering families are jointly surjective families of étale morphisms. The **small étale site of ***X*** ** is the category *O*(*X*_{ét}) whose objects are schemes *U* with a fixed étale morphism *U* → *X*. The morphisms are morphisms of schemes compatible with the fixed maps to *X*. The **big étale site of ***X*** ** is the category *Ét/X*, that is, the category of schemes with a fixed map to *X*, considered with the étale topology.

The étale topology can be defined using slightly less data. First, notice that the étale topology is finer than the Zariski topology. Consequently, to define an étale cover of a scheme *X*, it suffices to first cover *X* by open affine subschemes, that is, to take a Zariski cover, and then to define an étale cover of an affine scheme. An étale cover of an affine scheme *X* can be defined as a surjective family {*u*_{α} : *X*_{α} → *X*} such that the set of all α is finite, each *X*_{α} is affine, and each *u*_{α} is étale. Then an étale cover of *X* is a family {*u*_{α} : *X*_{α} → *X*} which becomes an étale cover after base changing to any open affine subscheme of *X*.

## Local rings in the étale topology

Let *X* be a scheme with its étale topology, and fix a point *x* of *X*. In the Zariski topology, the stalk of *X* at *x* is computed by taking a direct limit of the sections of the structure sheaf over all the Zariski open neighborhoods of *x*. In the étale topology, there are strictly more open neighborhoods of *x*, so the correct analog of the local ring at *x* is formed by taking the limit over a strictly larger family. The correct analog of the local ring at *x* for the étale topology turns out to be the strict henselization of the local ring
. It is usually denoted
.

## Examples

- For each étale morphism
, let
. Then
is a presheaf on
*X*; it is a sheaf since it can be represented by the scheme .

## References

- Grothendieck, Alexandre; Dieudonné, Jean (1964). "Éléments de géométrie algébrique: IV. Étude locale des schémas et des morphismes de schémas, Première partie".
*Publications Mathématiques de l'IHÉS*.**20**. doi:10.1007/bf02684747. MR 0173675. - Grothendieck, Alexandre; Dieudonné, Jean (1967). "Éléments de géométrie algébrique: IV. Étude locale des schémas et des morphismes de schémas, Quatrième partie".
*Publications Mathématiques de l'IHÉS*.**32**. doi:10.1007/bf02732123. MR 0238860. - Artin, Michael (1972). Alexandre Grothendieck; Jean-Louis Verdier (eds.).
*Séminaire de Géométrie Algébrique du Bois Marie - 1963-64 - Théorie des topos et cohomologie étale des schémas - (SGA 4) - vol. 2*. Lecture notes in mathematics (in French).**270**. Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. iv+418. doi:10.1007/BFb0061319. ISBN 978-3-540-06012-3. - Artin, Michael (1972). Alexandre Grothendieck; Jean-Louis Verdier (eds.).
*Séminaire de Géométrie Algébrique du Bois Marie - 1963-64 - Théorie des topos et cohomologie étale des schémas - (SGA 4) - vol. 3*. Lecture notes in mathematics (in French).**305**. Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. vi+640. doi:10.1007/BFb0070714. ISBN 978-3-540-06118-2. - Deligne, Pierre (1977).
*Séminaire de Géométrie Algébrique du Bois Marie - Cohomologie étale - (SGA 4½)*. Lecture notes in mathematics (in French).**569**. Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. iv+312. doi:10.1007/BFb0091516. ISBN 978-3-540-08066-4. - J. S. Milne (1980),
*Étale cohomology*, Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-08238-3 - J. S. Milne (2008).
*Lectures on Étale Cohomology*