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Pfister's sixteen-square identity

In algebra, Pfister's sixteen-square identity is a non-bilinear identity of form

It was first proven to exist by H. Zassenhaus and W. Eichhorn in the 1960s,[1] and independently by Pfister[2] around the same time. There are several versions, a concise one of which is

If all and with are set equal to zero, then it reduces to Degen's eight-square identity (in blue). The are


The identity shows that, in general, the product of two sums of sixteen squares is the sum of sixteen rational squares. Incidentally, the also obey,

No sixteen-square identity exists involving only bilinear functions since Hurwitz's theorem states an identity of the form

with the bilinear functions of the and is possible only for n ∈ {1, 2, 4, 8} . However, the more general Pfister's theorem (1965) shows that if the are rational functions of one set of variables, hence has a denominator, then it is possible for all .[3] There are also non-bilinear versions of Euler's four-square and Degen's eight-square identities.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ H. Zassenhaus and W. Eichhorn, "Herleitung von Acht- und Sechzehn-Quadrate-Identitäten mit Hilfe von Eigenschaften der verallgemeinerten Quaternionen und der Cayley-Dicksonchen Zahlen," Arch. Math. 17 (1966), 492-496
  2. ^ A. Pfister, Zur Darstellung von -1 als Summe von Quadraten in einem Körper," J. London Math. Soc. 40 (1965), 159-165
  3. ^ Pfister's Theorem on Sums of Squares, Keith Conrad,

External linksEdit