becher@maths.ucd.ie detlev@math.univ-fcomte.fr

Submission: 2003, Jul 8

Let $F$ be a field and $p$ a prime number. The $p$-symbol length of $F$, denoted by $\lambda_p(F)$, is the least integer $l$ such that every element of the group $K_2 F/p K_2F$ can be written as a sum of $\leq l$ symbols (with the convention that $\lambda_p(F)=\infty$ if no such integer exists). In this article, we obtain an upper bound for $\lambda_p(F)$ in the case where the group $\mg{F}/{\mg{F}}^p$ is finite of order $p^m$. This bound is $\lambda_p(F)\leq \frac{m}{2}$, except for the case where $p=2$ and $F$ is real, when the bound is $\lambda_2(F)\leq \frac{m+1}{2}$. We further give examples showing that these bounds are sharp.

2000 Mathematics Subject Classification:

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