GIT quotient

In algebraic geometry, an affine GIT quotient, or affine geometric invariant theory quotient, of an affine scheme with an action by a group scheme G is the affine scheme , the prime spectrum of the ring of invariants of A, and is denoted by . A GIT quotient is a categorical quotient: any invariant morphism uniquely factors through it.

Taking Proj (of a graded ring) instead of , one obtains a projective GIT quotient (which is a quotient of the set of semistable points.)

A GIT quotient is a categorical quotient of the locus of semistable points; i.e., "the" quotient of the semistable locus. Since the categorical quotient is unique, if there is a geometric quotient, then the two notions coincide: for example, one has

for an algebraic group G over a field k and closed subgroup H.

If X is a complex smooth projective variety and if G is a reductive complex Lie group, then the GIT quotient of X by G is homeomorphic to the symplectic quotient of X by a maximal compact subgroup of G (Kempf–Ness theorem).

Construction of a GIT quotient

Let G be a reductive group acting on a quasi-projective scheme X over a field and L a linearlized ample line bundle on X. Let

be the section ring. By definition, the semistable locus is the complement of the zero set in X; in other words, it is the union of all open subsets for global sections s of , n large. By ampleness, each is affine; say and so we can form the affine GIT quotient


Note that is of finite type by Hilbert's theorem on the ring of invariants. By universal property of categorical quotients, these affine quotients glue and result in


which is the GIT quotient of X with respect to L. Note that if X is projective; i.e., it is the Proj of R, then the quotient is given simply as the Proj of the ring of invariants .

The most interesting case is when the stable locus[1] is nonempty; is the open set of semistable points that have finite stabilizers and orbits that are closed in . In such a case, the GIT quotient restricts to


which has the property: every fiber is an orbit. That is to say, is a genuine quotient (i.e., geometric quotient) and one writes . Because of this, when is nonempty, the GIT quotient is often referred to as a "compactification" of a geometric quotient of an open subset of X.

A difficult and seemingly open question is: which geometric quotient arises in the above GIT fashion? The question is of a great interest since the GIT approach produces an explicit quotient, as opposed to an abstract quotient, which is hard to compute. One known partial answer to this question is the following:[2] let be a locally factorial algebraic variety (for example, a smooth variety) with an action of . Suppose there are an open subset as well as a geometric quotient such that (1) is an affine morphism and (2) is quasi-projective. Then for some linearlized line bundle L on X.


A simple example of a GIT quotient is given by the -action on sending

Notice that the monomials generate the ring . Hence we can write the ring of invariants as

Scheme theoretically, we get the morphism

See also


  1. NB: In (MFK), it was called the set of properly stable points
  2. MFK, Converse 1.13. NB: even though the result is stated for a smooth variety, the proof there is valid for a locally factorial one.



  • Mukai, Shigeru (2002). An introduction to invariants and moduli. Cambridge Studies in Advanced Mathematics. 81. ISBN 978-0-521-80906-1.
  • Brion, Michel. "Introduction to actions of algebraic groups" (PDF).
  • Thomas, Richard P. (2006). "Notes on GIT and symplectic reduction for bundles and varieties". A Tribute to Professor S.-S. Chern. Surveys in Differential Geometry. 10. pp. 221–273. arXiv:math/0512411. doi:10.4310/SDG.2005.v10.n1.a7. MR 2408226.


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