Should be used with the (group-theory) tag. Free groups are the free objects in the category of groups and can be classified up to isomorphism by their rank. Thus, we can talk about *the* free group of rank $n$, denoted $F_n$.

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92
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2answers
3k views

Does a four-variable analog of the Hall-Witt identity exist?

Lately I have been thinking about commutator formulas, sparked by rereading the following paragraph in Isaacs (p.125): An amazing commutator formula is the Hall-Witt identity: ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Abelianization of free group is the free abelian group

How does one prove that if $X$ is a set, then the abelianization of the free group $FX$ on $X$ is the free abelian group on $X$?
13
votes
5answers
587 views

Prove elements generate a free group

How does one show that the elements $x^2$, $y^2$, and $xy$ have no nontrivial relations among them in the free group generated by $\{x,y\}$? This would prove that the free group $F_2$ has a subgroup ...
13
votes
1answer
324 views

When is $G \ast H$ solvable?

In a proof that the lamplighter group $\mathbb{Z}_2 \wr \mathbb{Z}$ is not finitely presented, I showed that $\mathbb{Z}_2 \ast \mathbb{Z}$ is not solvable. More precisely, one can prove that the ...
11
votes
8answers
1k views

Why the group $\langle x,y\mid x^2=y^2\rangle $ is not free?

$G= \langle x,y\mid x^2=y^2\rangle $. I can't find any reason like an element of finite order or some subgroup of it that is not free etc.
11
votes
3answers
421 views

Could the concept of “finite free groups” be possible?

Is it possible to define "finite free groups" ? could that make it easier to deal with group presentations ?
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Finding subgroups of a free group with a specific index

How many subgroups with index 2 are there of a free group on two generators? What are their generators? All I know is that the subgroups should have 2*2 + 1 - 2 = 3 generators.
10
votes
2answers
389 views

Words in the Category of Sets

I was wondering about free objects in different categories and the "words" in those categories. I think I have a generally good grasp on the idea, but I started to think about stranger free objects ...
9
votes
4answers
416 views

Is the free group on an empty set defined?

I'm guessing that the free group on an empty set is either the trivial group or isn't defined. Some clarification would be appreciated.
9
votes
2answers
294 views

What good are free groups?

In Algebra: Chapter 0, one learns two definitions of Free Groups associating with sets. Let $A$ be a set, the free group of $A$, $F(A)$ is the initial object in the category $\mathcal{C}$, where ...
9
votes
2answers
675 views

Free group as a free product

Let $G$ be a group generated by two elements $a$ and $b$. Suppose $G$ is a free group of rank 2. Is it true that $G=\langle a\rangle * \langle b\rangle$? I think the problem is that the definitions I ...
8
votes
2answers
222 views

Free groups in some classes?

I understand that the only free groups that are abelian are 1 and Z, hence a difference between 'free abelian groups' and 'abelian free groups'. Can someone please tell me what are the solvable free ...
7
votes
3answers
424 views

Free group n contains subgroup of index 2

My problem is to show that any free group $F_{n}$ has a normal subgroup of index 2. I know that any subgroup of index 2 is normal. But how do I find a subgroup of index 2? The subgroup needs to have ...
7
votes
1answer
148 views

Does this group presentation define a nontrivial group?

Given a presentation $$ \langle x,y,z : x^y=x^2, y^z=y^2, z^x = z^2 \rangle, $$ where $x^y$ is just the usual conjugation. Can we say for sure, whether this presentation defines a nontrivial group?
7
votes
1answer
54 views

Free subgroup of linear groups

Suppose $a,b \in GL(n,\mathbb{C})$, and $\langle a,b\rangle$ is a free group of rank $2$. Is there a way to choose a $c$ to guarantee that $\langle a,b,c\rangle$ is a free group of rank $3$?
7
votes
1answer
80 views

An old problem in Group Theory

Definition A group $G$ is said to satisfies the minimal condition on subgroups iff every descending chain of subgroups stops after a finite number of steps. I know this was an unsolved problem in ...
7
votes
2answers
418 views

Group isomorphism concerning free group generated by $3$ elements.

From Jacobson's Basic Algebra I, page 70, Let $G$ be the group defined by the following relations in $FG^{(3)}$: $$x_2x_1=x_3x_1x_2, \qquad x_3x_1=x_1x_3,\qquad x_3x_2=x_2x_3.$$ Show that $G$ ...
6
votes
2answers
189 views

What can we say about the kernel of $\phi: F_n \rightarrow S_k$

Let $F_n$ denote the free group on $n$ generators and let $S_k$ denote the symmetric group on the integers $\{1,\dots, k\}$, and the action of homomorphism $\phi$ (as given in the title) on the ...
6
votes
3answers
300 views

The free group $F_2$ contains $F_k$

I want to prove the following: the free group $F_2$ contains the free group $F_k$ for every $k \geq 3$. I am wondering whether the following line of reasoning is correct or not: Suppose that $\lbrace ...
6
votes
3answers
439 views

Alternative “functorial” proof of Nielsen-Schreier?

There are two proofs of Nielsen-Schreier that I know of. The theorem states that every subgroup of a free group is free. The first proof uses topology and covering space theory and is rather elegant. ...
6
votes
1answer
86 views

Proving that the free group on two generators is the coproduct $\mathbb{Z}*\mathbb{Z}$ in $\textbf{Grp}$

I want to show that the free group on two elements $F(\{x,y\})$ is the coproduct $\mathbb{Z}*\mathbb{Z}$ in $\textbf{Grp}$. The idea is to use the universal property of free groups to prove that ...
6
votes
2answers
392 views

Lower central series of a free group

Consider the element $w=x^2yx^{-1}y^{-1}x^{-1}yxy^{-1}x^{-1}$ of the free group $F_2=\langle x,y\rangle$. By considering the image of this element under the abelianization map (equivalently, by adding ...
6
votes
1answer
60 views

Automorphisms of free groups

Suppose $U$ is a subgroup of finite index in the free group on $k$ generators $F_k$. Suppose $\sigma$ is an automorphism of $F_k$ such that $\sigma|_U = \text{id}$, then must $\sigma = \text{id}$?
6
votes
1answer
104 views

Categorical proof that subgroups of free groups are free?

Is there a categorical proof that the subgroups of free groups are free? Also that abelian subgroups of free abelian groups are free.
6
votes
1answer
107 views

Automorphism of the free group

Let $\mathbb{F}_2$ be the free group of rank $2$ with generators $a$ and $b$. I would like to build an automorphism $\varphi$ of $\mathbb{F}_2$ such that : 1) $\varphi([a,b]) = [a,b]$ 2) ...
6
votes
2answers
53 views

Free groups and derivative

Per definition a derivative on a group $G$ is a mapping $D:G\rightarrow\mathbb{Z}G$ such that $D(gh)=D(g)+gD(h)$. Now my question: uppose $G$ is a free group $F=F(X)$ with $X$ a finite set and suppose ...
5
votes
1answer
539 views

Power of commutator formula

A few people remember a commutator formula of the form $[a,b]^n = (a^{-1} b^{-1})^n (ab)^n c$ where $c$ is a product of only a few commutators (say $n-1$) of them. Here $a,b$ are in a (free) group ...
5
votes
3answers
93 views

Pairs of $2\times 2$ matrices generating free groups.

The matrices $\begin{pmatrix}1&2\\0&1\end{pmatrix}$ and $\begin{pmatrix}1&0\\2&1\end{pmatrix}$ are well-known to (freely) generate a free group. Some years ago, I read a paper that, ...
5
votes
1answer
113 views

Epimorphisms from a free group onto a free group

Let $f:F_n\to F_m$ be an epimorphism ($n\geq m$). Then it is true that there is a basis $X=X_1\sqcup X_2$ in $F_n$ such that $f$ maps $\langle X_1\rangle$ isomorphically onto $F_m$, and maps $X_2$ to ...
5
votes
2answers
101 views

Free group in GAP

I know that in the free group $F$ with two generators $x$ and $y$, there is some word $w \in [F,F]$ such that $xy^2=x^{-2} y^{-3} x^{-2}(xy)^5 w$. Is it possible to find $w$ using GAP?
5
votes
2answers
130 views

free group generated by polynomials

Someone recently asked me how to proof that $x+1$ and $x^3$ generate a free group. A colleague has worked out a proof. I have a vague memory that this has been studied, maybe a Monthly problem? Does ...
5
votes
1answer
80 views

Permutation Group as quotient of Free Group

I could use some help with the following question: Let $S_{n}$ be the permutation group of $\left\{ 1,...,n\right\}$ , what is the minimal $k\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $S_{n}$ is a quotient of ...
5
votes
1answer
72 views

Proving the 'letters' of a free group generate the group

A group $F$ is free over a set $X$ if there exists an injection $\sigma: X \to F$ such that for any function $\alpha: X \to G$ to any group $G$ there exists a unique homomorphism $\phi : F \to G$ such ...
5
votes
0answers
197 views

Identifying a certain subgroup of a free group

Let $F$ be the free group on the generators $a_1,\ldots,a_n$. Define homomorphisms $\phi_i:F\to F$ by $\phi_i(a_j)=a_j^{1-\delta_{ij}}$, where $\delta_{ij}$ is the Kronecker delta; basically, $\phi_i$ ...
4
votes
4answers
981 views

Generators of a free group

If G is a free group generated by n elements, is it possible to find an isomorphism of G with a free group generated by n-1 (or any fewer number) of elements?
4
votes
5answers
152 views

Free product of the trivial group with another group

I'm new to the idea of a free product.. Basically I was wondering if G is an arbitrary group and 1 is the trivial group then is $1\star G \cong G$. If not.. what whould it look like?
4
votes
3answers
566 views

Quotient of two free abelian groups of the same rank is finite?

Let $A,B$ be abelian groups such that $B\subseteq A$ and $A,B$ both are free of rank $n$. I want to show that $|A/B|$ is finite, or equivalently that $[A:B ]$ (the index of $B$ in $A$) is finite. For ...
4
votes
2answers
323 views

A free group on the non-empty set $X$ is solvable iff $|X| =1$

Let $X$ be a non-empty set. Prove that $F_X$, the free group on $X$ is solvable if and only if $|X| = 1$. We can see that if $|X| = 1$, then $F_X$ is abelian, and hence solvable. However, the other ...
4
votes
1answer
164 views

Slicker construction of the free product of groups

The usual construction of the free product of groups $\{G_i\}_{i \in I}$ consists of taking the discriminated union $\coprod_{i \in I} G_i$ and taking the set of words satisfying a handful of ...
4
votes
2answers
163 views

Is $\Bbb{6Z}$ a free group?

I'm trying to understand the concept of free groups , and from what I've learned so far , a group $G$ is called a free group , if there is a subset $S ⊂ G$ such that any element of G can be written ...
4
votes
3answers
362 views

Commutator subgroup of rank-2 free group is not finitely generated.

I'm having trouble with this exercise: Let $G$ be the free group generated by $a$ and $b$. Prove that the commutator subgroup $G'$ is not finitely generated. I found a suggestion that says to ...
4
votes
1answer
84 views

the center of amalgamated product of free groups

Let $G_1$, $G_2$, $H$ be free groups, $K=G_1*_H G_2$ is the amalgamated product of free groups, then is center of $K$ trivial? Thanks in advance.
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Commutator subgroup of a free group

Let $F_k$ be the free group of rank $k$. If $k=2$ it is not hard to see that the set $\{[s_1^{n_1},s_2^{n_2}] \mid n_i\neq 0\}$ is a basis for $F_2'$. (Prime denotes the commutator subgroup). What ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

Linear representation of a free group

I need to prove the following: "Prove that the free group of rank 2 is linear." So to my best understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong: I actually need to show a homomorphism from the free ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

Cokernels in the category of free abelian groups

My question is if there are Cokernels in the category of free abelian groups. The answer is yes in the case of finitely generated free abelian groups since one has the structure theorem of finitely ...
4
votes
1answer
906 views

Free group and universal property

I'm trying to understand universal properties. An example is the definition of a free group (as I understand it so far): Revised definition: A free group $F_S$ over a set $S$ is a pair $(g,F_S)$ ...
4
votes
1answer
100 views

A lemma about free groups

Let F be a finitely generated free group and $\gamma_m$ the lower central series. Why is $\gamma_m(F)/\gamma_{m+1}(F)$ torsionfree? I know it is abelian, but I couldn't find out more about it, as ...
4
votes
1answer
65 views

Proving things about the free group from the categorical definition.

I'm undertaking A Course in the Theory of Groups by Robinson and I'm looking for some guidance on some of the exercises. Specifically, I'm trying to show that a free group of rank 2 or higher has a ...
4
votes
1answer
403 views

Equation c./ commutator subgroup, direct sums, and free products (Munkres, Section 69, Exercise 1)

Let $G = G_1 \ast G_2$. Then $$G/[G,G] \simeq G_1/[G_1, G_1] \oplus G_2/[G_2,G_2].$$ This is Munkres, section 69, exercise 1; with the hint to use the extension condition for free groups and ...
4
votes
1answer
297 views

Why isn't this free product of groups abelian?

I'm trying to prove that the free group $A=A_1*A_2$, where $A_1, A_2\neq 1$ is not abelian. Following the hints below: Let $x,y\in A_1*A_2$, where $x\neq y$. Suppose now $A_1=F(S)$ and $A_2=F(T)$, ...