Main conjecture of Iwasawa theory

In mathematics, the main conjecture of Iwasawa theory is a deep relationship between p-adic L-functions and ideal class groups of cyclotomic fields, proved by Kenkichi Iwasawa for primes satisfying the Kummer–Vandiver conjecture and proved for all primes by Mazur and Wiles (1984). The Herbrand–Ribet theorem and the Gras conjecture are both easy consequences of the main conjecture. There are several generalizations of the main conjecture, to totally real fields, CM fields, elliptic curves, and so on.

Main conjecture of Iwasawa theory
FieldAlgebraic number theory
Iwasawa theory
Conjectured byKenkichi Iwasawa
Conjectured in1969
First proof byBarry Mazur
Andrew Wiles
First proof in1984


Iwasawa (1969) was partly motivated by an analogy with Weil's description of the zeta function of an algebraic curve over a finite field in terms of eigenvalues of the Frobenius endomorphism on its Jacobian. In this analogy,

  • The action of the Frobenius corresponds to the action of the group Γ.
  • The Jacobian of a curve corresponds to a module X over Γ defined in terms of ideal class groups.
  • The zeta function of a curve over a finite field corresponds to a p-adic L-function.
  • Weil's theorem relating the eigenvalues of Frobenius to the zeros of the zeta function of the curve corresponds to Iwasawa's main conjecture relating the action of the Iwasawa algebra on X to zeros of the p-adic zeta function.


The main conjecture of Iwasawa theory was formulated as an assertion that two methods of defining p-adic L-functions (by module theory, by interpolation) should coincide, as far as that was well-defined. This was proved by Mazur & Wiles (1984) for Q, and for all totally real number fields by Wiles (1990). These proofs were modeled upon Ken Ribet's proof of the converse to Herbrand's theorem (the Herbrand–Ribet theorem).

Karl Rubin found a more elementary proof of the Mazur–Wiles theorem by using Thaine's method and Kolyvagin's Euler systems, described in Lang (1990) and Washington (1997), and later proved other generalizations of the main conjecture for imaginary quadratic fields.[1]


  • p is a prime number.
  • Fn is the field Q(ζ) where ζ is a root of unity of order pn+1.
  • Γ is the largest subgroup of the absolute Galois group of F isomorphic to the p-adic integers.
  • γ is a topological generator of Γ
  • Ln is the p-Hilbert class field of Fn.
  • Hn is the Galois group Gal(Ln/Fn), isomorphic to the subgroup of elements of the ideal class group of Fn whose order is a power of p.
  • H is the inverse limit of the Galois groups Hn.
  • V is the vector space HZpQp.
  • ω is the Teichmüller character.
  • Vi is the ωi eigenspace of V.
  • hpi,T) is the characteristic polynomial of γ acting on the vector space Vi
  • Lp is the p-adic L function with Lpi,1–k) = –Bkik)/k, where B is a generalized Bernoulli number.
  • u is the unique p-adic number satisfying γ(ζ) = ζu for all p-power roots of unity ζ
  • Gp is the power series with Gpi,us–1) = Lpi,s)

The main conjecture of Iwasawa theory proved by Mazur and Wiles states that if i is an odd integer not congruent to 1 mod p–1 then the ideals of Zp[[T]] generated by hpi,T) and Gp1–i,T) are equal.

The proof of Iwasawa's main conjecture by Mazur-Wiles was later improved by Rubin using Kolyvagin's Euler Systems, see entry for Iwasawa theory.


  1. Manin & Panchishkin (2007) p.246
  • Coates, John; Sujatha, R. (2006), Cyclotomic Fields and Zeta Values, Springer Monographs in Mathematics, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-33068-4, Zbl 1100.11002
  • Iwasawa, Kenkichi (1964), "On some modules in the theory of cyclotomic fields", Journal of the Mathematical Society of Japan, 16: 42–82, doi:10.4099/jmath.16.42 (inactive 2019-08-20), ISSN 0025-5645, MR 0215811
  • Iwasawa, Kenkichi (1969), "Analogies between number fields and function fields", Some Recent Advances in the Basic Sciences, Vol. 2 (Proc. Annual Sci. Conf., Belfer Grad. School Sci., Yeshiva Univ., New York, 1965-1966), Belfer Graduate School of Science, Yeshiva Univ., New York, pp. 203–208, MR 0255510
  • Iwasawa, Kenkichi (1969b), "On p-adic L-functions", Annals of Mathematics, Second Series, 89 (1): 198–205, doi:10.2307/1970817, ISSN 0003-486X, JSTOR 1970817, MR 0269627
  • Manin, Yu. I.; Panchishkin, A. A. (2007), Introduction to Modern Number Theory, Encyclopaedia of Mathematical Sciences, 49 (Second ed.), ISBN 978-3-540-20364-3, ISSN 0938-0396, Zbl 1079.11002
  • Mazur, Barry; Wiles, Andrew (1984), "Class fields of abelian extensions of Q", Inventiones Mathematicae, 76 (2): 179–330, doi:10.1007/BF01388599, ISSN 0020-9910, MR 0742853
  • Wiles, Andrew (1990), "The Iwasawa conjecture for totally real fields", Annals of Mathematics, Second Series, 131 (3): 493–540, doi:10.2307/1971468, ISSN 0003-486X, JSTOR 1971468, MR 1053488
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