For which $n$ is the symmetric group $S_n$ a subgroup of the special orthogonal group $SO(3)$? For example, this holds for $n≤4$, however I don't know if it holds for $n=5$ or what happens for larger $n$.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would be a faithful $3$-dimensional representation which doesn't exist for $n\ge 5$ $\endgroup$
    – reuns
    Dec 26, 2020 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


This question can be attacked either as a question about the finite subgroups of $SO(3)$ or as a question about the representation theory of $S_n$. Each of these approaches will prove that $S_n \hookrightarrow SO(3)$ iff $n \le 4$.

Finite subgroups: It's a classical result that the complete list of finite subgroups of $SO(3)$ is the following:

$S_4$ appears on this list but $S_n$ does not for $n \ge 5$.

Representation theory: The symmetric group $S_n$ is known to have the property that the lowest-dimensional faithful representation has dimension $n-1$ for $n \ge 5$, as reuns points out in the comments.


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