Irrelevant ideal

In mathematics, the irrelevant ideal is the ideal of a graded ring generated by the homogeneous elements of degree greater than zero. More generally, a homogeneous ideal of a graded ring is called an irrelevant ideal if its radical contains the irrelevant ideal.[1]

The terminology arises from the connection with algebraic geometry. If R = k[x0, ..., xn] (a multivariate polynomial ring in n+1 variables over an algebraically closed field k) graded with respect to degree, there is a bijective correspondence between projective algebraic sets in projective n-space over k and homogeneous, radical ideals of R not equal to the irrelevant ideal.[2] More generally, for an arbitrary graded ring R, the Proj construction disregards all irrelevant ideals of R.[3]


  1. Zariski & Samuel 1975, §VII.2, p. 154
  2. Hartshorne 1977, Exercise I.2.4
  3. Hartshorne 1977, §II.2


  • Sections 1.5 and 1.8 of Eisenbud, David (1995), Commutative algebra with a view toward algebraic geometry, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, 150, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-94269-8, MR 1322960
  • Hartshorne, Robin (1977), Algebraic Geometry, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, 52, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-90244-9, MR 0463157
  • Zariski, Oscar; Samuel, Pierre (1975), Commutative algebra volume II, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, 29 (Reprint of the 1960 ed.), Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-90171-8, MR 0389876
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