Cartan's theorems A and B

In mathematics, Cartan's theorems A and B are two results proved by Henri Cartan around 1951, concerning a coherent sheaf F on a Stein manifold X. They are significant both as applied to several complex variables, and in the general development of sheaf cohomology.

Theorem A. F is spanned by its global sections.

Theorem B is stated in cohomological terms (a formulation that Cartan (1953, p.51) attributes to J.-P. Serre):

Theorem B. Hp(X, F) = 0 for all p > 0.

Analogous properties were established by Serre (1955) for coherent sheaves in algebraic geometry, when X is an affine scheme. The analogue of Theorem B in this context is as follows (Hartshorne 1977, Theorem III.3.7):

Theorem B (Scheme theoretic analogue). Let X be an affine scheme, F a quasi-coherent sheaf of OX-modules for the Zariski topology on X. Then Hp(X, F) = 0 for all p > 0.

These theorems have many important applications. For instance, they imply that a holomorphic function on a closed complex submanifold, Z, of a Stein manifold X can be extended to a holomorphic function on all of X. At a deeper level, these theorems were used by Jean-Pierre Serre to prove the GAGA theorem.

Theorem B is sharp in the sense that if H1(X, F) = 0 for all coherent sheaves F on a complex manifold X (resp. quasi-coherent sheaves F on a noetherian scheme X), then X is Stein (resp. affine); see (Serre 1956) (resp. (Serre 1957) and (Hartshorne 1977, Theorem III.3.7)).


  • Cartan, H. (1953), "Variétés analytiques complexes et cohomologie", Colloque tenu à Bruxelles: 41–55.
  • Gunning, Robert C.; Rossi, Hugo (1965), Analytic Functions of Several Complex Variables, Prentice Hall.
  • Hartshorne, Robin (1977), Algebraic Geometry, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-387-90244-9.
  • Serre, Jean-Pierre (1957), "Sur la cohomologie des variétés algébriques", Journal de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées, 36: 1–16.
  • Serre, Jean-Pierre (1956), "Géométrie algébrique et géométrie analytique", Université de Grenoble. Annales de l'Institut Fourier, 6: 1–42, doi:10.5802/aif.59, ISSN 0373-0956, MR 0082175
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