What is an example of a smooth variety over a finite field F_p which does not embed into a smooth scheme over Z_p?

Such an example of course could not be projective and would not itself lift to Z_p. The context is that one can compute p-adic cohomology of a variety X over a finite field F_p via the cohomology of an embedding of X into a smooth Z_p scheme.

This is similar in spirit to my questions here and here (but a different question than the second link).

MathOverflow Asked by David Zureick-Brown on August 9, 2020

3 Answers

3 Answers

EDIT 7/15/14 I was just looking back at this old answer, and I don't think I ever answered the stated question. I can't delete an accepted answer, but I'll point at that, as far as I can tell, the Vakil reference I give also only address the question of deforming $X$ over $mathbb{Z}_p$, not of embedding it in some larger flat family over $mathbb{Z}_p$.

EDIT Oops! David Brown points out below that I misread the question. I was answering the question of finding a smooth scheme which does not deform in a smooth family over Z_p.

Well, to make up for that, I'll point to some references which definitely contain answers. Look at section 2.3 of Ravi Vakil's paper on Murphy's law for deformation spaces for some history, and several good references. Moreover, Ravi describes how to build an explicit cover of P^2 in characteristic p which does not deform to characteristic 0. Basically, the idea is to take a collection of lines in P^2 which doesn't deform to characteristic 0 and take a branched cover over those lines. For example, you could take that p^2+p+1 lines that have coefficients in F_p.

Correct answer by David E Speyer on August 9, 2020

A theorem of Wlodarczyk in "Embedding varieties in toric varieties" says that any smooth variety such that any two points are contained in an affine open set can be embedded in a smooth toric variety. Toric varieties can be lifted to Z_p so any variety over F_p with the above property can be embedded in a smooth scheme over Z_p.

Unfortunately, not all smooth varieties have this property; the example in Hartshorne of a smooth proper 3-fold which is not projective appears to be one where this fails (though for suitable choices these could lift to Z_p).

Answered by ulrich on August 9, 2020

I know that Kiran Kedlaya knows the answer to this question. You might e-mail him.

Answered by David E Speyer on August 9, 2020

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