# On the generators of the Modular Group

The modular group is the group $G$ consisting of all linear fractional transformations $\phi$ of the form $$\phi(z)=\frac{az+b}{cz+d}$$ where $a,b,c,d$ are integers and $ad-bc=1$. I have read that $G$ is generated by the transformations $\tau(z)=z+1$ and $\sigma(z)=-1/z$. Is there an easy way to prove this? In particular, is there a proof that uses the relation between linear fractional transformations and matrices? Any good reference would be helpful.

Thank you, Malik

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Yes; this statement is essentially equivalent to the Euclidean algorithm. I discuss these issues in this old blog post. (A very brief sketch: by applying the generators and the inverses to an arbitrary element of the modular group it is possible to perform the Euclidean algorithm on $a$ and $c$ (or maybe it's $a$ and $b$). The rest is casework.) You can think of this as a form of row reduction, which is generalized by the notion of Smith normal form.