Around the

same time Michel Van den Bergh introduced his Brauer-Severi schemes,

[Claudio Procesi][1] (extending earlier work of [Bill Schelter][2])

introduced smooth orders as those orders $A$ in a central simple algebra

$\Sigma$ (of dimension $n^2$) such that their representation variety

$\mathbf{trep}_n~A$ is a smooth variety. Many interesting orders are smooth

: hereditary orders, trace rings of generic matrices and more generally

size n approximations of formally smooth algebras (that is,

non-commutative manifolds). As in the commutative case, every order has

a Zariski open subset where it is a smooth order. The relevance of

this notion to the study of Brauer-Severi varieties is that $X_A$ is a

smooth variety whenever $A$ is a smooth order. Indeed, the Brauer-Severi

scheme was the orbit space of the principal $GL_n$-fibration on the

Brauer-stable representations (see [last time][3]) which form a Zariski

open subset of the smooth variety $\mathbf{trep}_n~A \times k^n$. In fact,

in most cases the reverse implication will also hold, that is, if $X_A$

is smooth then usually A is a smooth order. However, for low n,

there are some counterexamples. Consider the so called quantum plane

$A_q=k_q[x,y]~:~yx=qxy$ with $~q$ an $n$-th root of unity then one

can easily prove (using the fact that the smooth order locus of $A_q$ is

everything but the origin in the central variety $~\mathbb{A}^2$) that

the singularities of the Brauer-Severi scheme $X_A$ are the orbits

corresponding to those nilpotent representations $~\phi : A \rightarrow

M_n(k)$ which are at the same time singular points in $\mathbf{trep}_n~A$

and have a cyclic vector. As there are singular points among the

nilpotent representations, the Brauer-Severi scheme will also be

singular except perhaps for small values of $n$. For example, if

$~n=2$ the defining relation is $~xy+yx=0$ and any trace preserving

representation has a matrix-description $~x \rightarrow

\begin{bmatrix} a & b \\ c & -a \end{bmatrix}~y \rightarrow

\begin{bmatrix} d & e \\ f & -d \end{bmatrix}$ such that

$~2ad+bf+ec = 0$. That is, $~\mathbf{trep}_2~A = \mathbb{V}(2ad+bf+ec)

\subset \mathbb{A}^6$ which is an hypersurface with a unique

singular point (the origin). As this point corresponds to the

zero-representation (which does not have a cyclic vector) the

Brauer-Severi scheme will be smooth in this case. [Colin

Ingalls][4] extended this calculation to show that the Brauer-Severi

scheme is equally smooth when $~n=3$ but has a unique (!) singular point

when $~n=4$. So probably all Brauer-Severi schemes for $n \geq 4$ are

indeed singular. I conjecture that this is a general feature for

Brauer-Severi schemes of families (depending on the p.i.-degree $n$) of

non-smooth orders.

[1]: http://venere.mat.uniroma1.it/people/procesi/

[2]: http://www.fact-index.com/b/bi/bill_schelter.html

[3]: http://www.neverendingbooks.org/index.php?p=341

[4]: http://kappa.math.unb.ca/~colin/