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In mathematics, especially in algebraic geometry and the theory of complex manifolds, coherent sheaves are a specific class of sheaves having particularly manageable properties closely linked to the geometrical properties of the underlying space. The definition of coherent sheaves is made with reference to a sheaf of rings that codifies this geometrical information.

Coherent sheaves can be seen as a generalization of vector bundles, or of locally free sheaves of finite rank. Unlike vector bundles, they form a "nice" category closed under usual operations such as taking kernels, cokernels and finite direct sums. The quasi-coherent sheaves are a generalization of coherent sheaves and include the locally free sheaves of infinite rank.

Many results and properties in algebraic geometry and complex analytic geometry are formulated in terms of coherent or quasi-coherent sheaves and their cohomology.


A coherent sheaf on a ringed space \( (X,\mathcal{O}_X) \) is a sheaf \(\mathcal{F} \) of \(\mathcal{O}_X \)-modules with the following two properties:[1]

\( \mathcal{F} \) is of finite type over \(\mathcal{O}_X \),[2] i.e., for any point \( x\in X \) there is an open neighbourhood \(U\subset X \) such that the restriction \(\mathcal{F}|_U \) of \(\mathcal{F} \) to U is generated by a finite number of sections (in other words, there is a surjective morphism\( \mathcal{O}_X^n|_U \to \mathcal{F}|_U \) for some \(n\in\mathbb{N}) \); and
for any open set \(U\subset X \), any \( n\in\mathbb{N} \) and any morphism \(\varphi\colon \mathcal{O}_X^n|_U \to \mathcal{F}|_U \) of \(\mathcal{O}_X \)-modules, the kernel of \varphi is of finite type.

The sheaf of rings \(\mathcal{O}_X \) is coherent if it is coherent considered as a sheaf of modules over itself. Important examples of coherent sheaves of rings include the sheaf of germs of holomorphic functions on a complex manifold (Oka coherence theorem) and the structure sheaf of a Noetherian scheme[3] from algebraic geometry.

A coherent sheaf is always a sheaf of finite presentation, or in other words each point \(x\in X has an open neighbourhood U such that the restriction \( \mathcal{F}|_U \) of \( \mathcal{F} \) to U is isomorphic to the cokernel of a morphism \(\mathcal{O}_X^n|_U \to \mathcal{O}_X^m|_U \) for some integers n and m. If \(\mathcal{O}_X \) is coherent, then the converse is true and each sheaf of finite presentation over \(\mathcal{O}_X \) is coherent.

A sheaf \(\mathcal{F} of \mathcal{O}_{X} \)-modules is said to be quasi-coherent if it has a local presentation, i.e. if there exist an open cover by \( U_i \) of the topological space X and an exact sequence

\( \mathcal{O}^{(I_i)}|_{U_i} \to \mathcal{O}^{(J_i)}|_{U_i} \to \mathcal{F}|_{U_i} \to 0 \)

where the first two terms of the sequence are direct sums (possibly infinite) of copies of the structure sheaf.

Note: Some authors, notably Hartshorne, use a different but equivalent definition of coherent and quasi-coherent sheaves on a scheme. Let X be a scheme and F an \( \mathcal{O}_X \)-module. Then:

F is quasi-coherent if there are open affine cover \(U_i = \operatorname{Spec} A_i \) of X and Ai-modules Mi such that \(F|_{U_i} = \widetilde{M}_i as O_{U_i} \)-modules, where \( \widetilde{M}_i \) are sheaves associated to \(M_i \).
When X is a Noetherian scheme, F is coherent if it is quasi-coherent and \(M_i \)above can be taken to be finitely generated.

Examples of coherent sheaves

On a Noetherian scheme X,[3] the structure sheaf \(\mathcal{O}_X \)is a coherent sheaf of rings.
A sheaf of \(\mathcal{O} _X \)-modules \(\mathcal{F} \) on a ringed space X is called locally free if for each point \(p\in X \), there is an open neighborhood U of p such that \(\mathcal{F}| _U \) is free as an \(\mathcal{O} _X| _U \)-module. This implies that \(\mathcal{F}_p \), the stalk of \(\mathcal{F} \) at p, is free as a \((\mathcal{O} _X)_p \)-module for all p. The converse is true if \(\mathcal{F} \) is moreover coherent. If \( \mathcal{F}_ \)p is of finite rank n for every \(p\in X \), then \(\mathcal{F} \) is said to be of rank n.
Let \(X = \operatorname{Spec}(R), R \) a Noetherian ring. Then any finitely generated projective module over R can be viewed as a locally free \(\mathcal{O}_X \)-module. (see also Proj construction for the case when R is a graded ring.)
The Oka coherence theorem states that the sheaf of holomorphic functions on a complex manifold is a coherent sheaf of rings.
The sheaf of sections of a vector bundle (on a scheme, or a complex analytic space) is coherent.
Ideal sheaves: If Z is a closed complex subspace of a complex analytic space X, the sheaf IZ/X of all holomorphic functions vanishing on Z is coherent. Likewise, the ideal sheaf of regular functions vanishing on a closed subscheme is coherent.
The structure sheaf OZ of a closed subscheme Z of X, or of a closed analytic subspace, is a coherent sheaf on X. The sheaf OZ has fiber dimension (defined below) equal to zero at points in the open set X−Z, and fiber dimension one at points in Z.


The category of coherent sheaves on \((X,\mathcal{O}_X) \) is an abelian category, a full subcategory of the (much more unwieldy) abelian category of all sheaves on\( (X,\mathcal{O}_X) \). (Analogously, the category of coherent modules over any ring R is a full abelian subcategory of the category of all R-modules.)

If R denotes the ring of regular functions\( \Gamma(X,\mathcal{O}_X) \), then every R-module gives rise to a quasi-coherent sheaf of \(\mathcal{O}_X \)-modules in a natural fashion, yielding a functor from R-modules to quasi-coherent sheaves. In general, not every quasi-coherent sheaf arises from an R-module in this fashion. However, for an affine scheme X with coordinate ring R, this construction gives an equivalence of categories between R-modules and quasi-coherent sheaves on X. In case the ring R is Noetherian, coherent sheaves correspond exactly to finitely generated modules.

Some results in commutative algebra are naturally interpreted using coherent sheaves. For example, Nakayama's lemma says that if F is a coherent sheaf, then the fiber Fx⊗OX,xk(x) of F at a point x (a vector space over the residue field k(x)) is zero if and only if the sheaf F is zero on some open neighborhood of x. A related fact is that the dimension of the fibers of a coherent sheaf is upper-semicontinuous.[4] Thus a coherent sheaf has constant rank on an open set (where it is a vector bundle), while the rank can jump up on a lower-dimensional closed subset.

Given an (affine or projective) algebraic variety X (or more generally: a quasi-compact quasi-separated scheme), the category of quasi-coherent sheaves on X is a very well-behaved abelian category, a Grothendieck category. It follows that the category of quasi-coherent sheaves (unlike the category of coherent sheaves) has enough injectives, which makes it a convenient setting for sheaf cohomology. The scheme X is determined up to isomorphism by the abelian category of quasi-coherent sheaves on X.
Coherent cohomology

The sheaf cohomology theory of coherent sheaves is called coherent cohomology. It is one of the major and most fruitful applications of sheaves, and its results connect quickly with classical theories.

Using a theorem of Schwartz on compact operators in Fréchet spaces, Cartan and Serre proved that compact complex manifolds have the property that their sheaf cohomology for any coherent sheaf consists of vector spaces of finite dimension. This result had been proved previously by Kodaira for the particular case of locally free sheaves on Kähler manifolds. It plays a major role in the proof of the GAGA equivalence. An algebraic (and much easier) version of this theorem was proved by Serre. Relative versions of this result for a proper morphism were proved by Grothendieck in the algebraic case and by Grauert and Remmert in the analytic case. For example Grothendieck's result concerns the functor Rf* or push-forward, in sheaf cohomology. (It is the right derived functor of the direct image of a sheaf.) For a proper morphism in the sense of scheme theory, this functor sends coherent sheaves to coherent sheaves. The result of Serre is the case of a morphism to a point.

The duality theory in scheme theory that extends Serre duality is called coherent duality (or Grothendieck duality). Under some mild conditions of finiteness, the sheaf of Kähler differentials on an algebraic variety is a coherent sheaf Ω1. When the variety is smooth, Ω1 is a vector bundle, the cotangent bundle of X. For a smooth projective variety X of dimension n, Serre duality says that the top exterior power Ωn = ΛnΩ1 acts as the dualizing object for coherent sheaf cohomology.
See also

Picard group
Swan's theorem
Algebraic vector bundle
Quot scheme
Reflexive sheaf


EGA, Ch 0, 5.3.1
EGA, Ch 0, 5.2.1.
see also:

R. Hartshorne. Algebraic Geometry. Springer-Verlag (1977). Example III.12.7.2.


Hartshorne, Robin (1977), Algebraic Geometry, Graduate Texts in Mathematics 52, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-90244-9, MR 0463157
Sections 0.5.3 and 0.5.4 of Grothendieck, Alexandre; Dieudonné, Jean (1960). "Éléments de géométrie algébrique: I. Le langage des schémas". Publications Mathématiques de l'IHÉS 4. doi:10.1007/bf02684778. MR 0217083.
Vakil, Math 216: Foundations of algebraic geometry, Part V.
Danilov, V. I. (2001), "Coherent algebraic sheaf", in Hazewinkel, Michiel, Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
Onishchik, A.L. (2001), "Coherent analytic sheaf", in Hazewinkel, Michiel, Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
Onishchik, A.L. (2001), "Coherent sheaf", in Hazewinkel, Michiel, Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4

External links

This article incorporates material from Locally free on PlanetMath, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
Sheaves of Modules, from the Stacks Project

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