Vol. 5, No. 2, 2011

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The basic geometry of Witt vectors, I The affine case

James Borger

Vol. 5 (2011), No. 2, 231–285

We give a concrete description of the category of étale algebras over the ring of Witt vectors of a given finite length with entries in an arbitrary ring. We do this not only for the classical p-typical and big Witt vector functors but also for certain analogues over arbitrary local and global fields. The basic theory of these generalized Witt vectors is developed from the point of view of commuting Frobenius lifts and their universal properties, which is a new approach even for classical Witt vectors. Our larger purpose is to provide the affine foundations for the algebraic geometry of generalized Witt schemes and arithmetic jet spaces, so the basics are developed in some detail, with an eye toward future applications.

Witt vector, Witt space, lambda-ring, Frobenius lift, plethory
Mathematical Subject Classification 2010
Primary: 13F35
Received: 13 May 2010
Revised: 8 August 2010
Accepted: 13 October 2010
Published: 27 August 2011
James Borger
Department of Mathematics
Australian National University
Mathematical Sciences Institute
Building 27
Canberra 2602