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Denote by $M_{n \times n}(k)$ the ring of $n$ by $n$ matrices with coefficients in the field $k$. Then why does this ring not contain any two-sided ideal?

Thanks for any clarification, and this is an exercise from the notes of Commutative Algebra by Pete L Clark, of which I thought as simple but I cannot figure it out now.

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Suppose that you have an ideal $\mathfrak{I}$ which contains a matrix with a nonzero entry $a_{ij}$. Multiplying by the matrix that has $0$’s everywhere except a $1$ in entry $(i,i)$, kill all rows except the $i$th row; multiplying by a suitable matrices on the right, kill all columns except the $j$th column; now you have a matrix, necessarily in $\mathfrak{I}$, which contains exactly one nonzero entry, namely $a_{ij}$ in position $(i,j)$.

Now show that $\mathfrak{I}$ must contain *all* matrices in $M_{n\times n}(k)$. This will show that a $2$-sided ideal consists either of *only* the $0$ matrix, or must be equal to the entire ring.

*Added.* Now that you have a matrix that has a single nonzero entry, can you get a matrix that has a single nonzero entry on whatever coordinate you specify, and such that this nonzero entry is whatever element of $k$ you want, by multiplying this matrix (on either left, or right, or both) by suitable elementary matrices? Will they all be in $\mathfrak{I}$?

And…

$$\left(\begin{array}{cc}

a&b\\

c&d

\end{array}\right) = \left(\begin{array}{cc}

a & 0\\

0 & 0

\end{array}\right) + \cdots$$

A faster, and more general result, which Arturo hinted at, is obtained via following proposition from Grillet’s *Abstract Algebra*, section “Semisimple Rings and Modules”, page 360:

**Consequence:** if $R:=D$ is a division ring, then $M_n(D)$ is simple.

**Proof:** Suppose there existed an ideal of $M_n(D)$. By the proposition, it’d be of the form $M_n(I)$, for $I\unlhd D$, but division rings do not have any ideals (other than $0$ and $D$), so this is a contradiction. $\blacksquare$

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