This thesis discusses the Kaplansky zero divisor conjecture. The conjecture states that a group ring of a torsion-free group over a field has no nonzero zero divisors. There are situations for which this conjecture is known to hold, such as linearly orderable groups, unique product groups, solvable groups, and elementary amenable groups. This paper considers the possibility that the conjecture is false and there is some counterexample in existence. The approach to searching for such a counterexample discussed here is to first find a torsion-free group that has subsets A and B such that AB has no unique product. We do this by exhaustively searching for the subsets A and B with fixed small sizes. When |A| = 1 or 2 and |B| is arbitrary we know that AB contains a unique product, but when |A| is larger, not much was previously known. After an example is found we then verify that the sets are contained in a torsion-free group and further investigate whether the group ring yields a nonzero zero divisor. Together with Dr. Pace P. Nielsen, assistant math professor of Brigham Young University, we created code that was implemented in Magma, a computational algebra system, for the purpose of considering each size of A and B and running through each case. Along the way we check for the possibility of torsion elements and for other conditions that lead to contradictions, such as a decrease in the size of A or B. Our results are the following: If A and B are sets of the sizes below contained in a torsion-free group, then they must contain a unique product. |A| = 3 and |B| ≤ 16; |A| = 4 and |B| ≤ 12; |A| = 5 and |B| ≤ 9; |A| = 6 and |B| ≤ 7. We have continued to run cases of larger size and hope to increase the size of B for each size of A. Additionally, we found a torsion-free group containing sets A and B, both of size 8, where AB has no unique product. Though this group does not yield a counterexample for the Kaplansky zero divisor conjecture, it is the smallest explicit example of a non-uniqueproduct group in terms of the size of A and B.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Mathematics



Date Submitted


Document Type





Group Rings, Torsion-free Groups, Zero-Divisors, Kaplansky’s Zero Divisor Conjecture, Unique Product Groups



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Mathematics Commons