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Dissertation: Generalized factorization in commutative rings with zero-divisors



The study of factorization in integral domains has a long history. Unique factorization domains, like the integers, have been studied extensively for many years. More recently, mathematicians have turned their attention to generalizations of this such as Dedekind domains or other domains which have weaker factorization properties. Many authors have sought to generalize the notion of factorization in domains. One particular method which has encapsulated many of the generalizations into a single study is that of $\tau$-factorization, studied extensively by A. Frazier and D.D. Anderson. Another generalization comes in the form of studying factorization in rings with zero-divisors. Factorization gets quite complicated when zero-divisors are present due to the existence of several types of associate relations as well as several choices about what to consider the irreducible elements. In this thesis, we investigate several methods for extending the theory of $\tau$-factorization into rings with zero-divisors. We investigate several methods including: 1) the approach used by A.G. A\v{g}arg\"{u}n and D.D. Anderson, S. Chun and S. Valdes-Leon in several papers; 2) the method of U-factorization developed by C.R. Fletcher and extended by M. Axtell, J. Stickles, and N. Baeth and 3) the method of regular factorizations and 4) the method of complete factorizations. This thesis synthesizes the work done in the theory of generalized factorization and factorization in rings with zero-divisors. Along the way, we encounter several nice applications of the factorization theory. Using $\tau_z$-factorizations, we discover a nice relationship with zero-divisor graphs studied by I. Beck as well as D.D. Anderson, D.F. Anderson, A. Frazier, A. Lauve, and P. Livingston. Using $\tau$-U-factorization, we are able to answer many questions that arise when discussing direct products of rings. There are several benefits to the regular factorization factorization approach due to the various notions of associate and irreducible coinciding on regular elements greatly simplifying many of the finite factorization property relationships. Complete factorization is a very natural and effective approach taken to studying factorization in rings with zero-divisors. There are several nice results stemming from extending $\tau$-factorization in this way. Lastly, an appendix is provided in which several examples of rings satisfying the various finite factorization properties studied throughout the thesis are given.
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