Is the matrix $A$ diagonalizable if $A^2=I$

If $A$ is an involutory matrix, i.e. $A^2=I$, then is $A$ diagonalizable?

• Using Representation theory one can show that every complex matrix of finite order is diagonalisable.
– user38268
Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 17:38
• @Benjamin: Or just using the same argument: if $A^n=I$, then $A$ satisfies $t^n-1$, which has $n$ distinct roots over $\mathbb{C}$; hence the minimal polynomial of $A$ over $\mathbb{C}$ has no repeated roots, and hence $A$ is diagonalizable. Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 17:46
• @ArturoMagidin You said it slicker than me. I was thinking Maschke's Theorem.
– user38268
Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 17:46

Since $A^2=I$, then $A$ satisfies the polynomial $t^2-1 = (t-1)(t+1)$. Hence, the minimal polynomial of $A$ divides $(t-1)(t+1)$; so the minimal polynomial of $A$ splits and has distinct roots, so $A$ is diagonalizable.
As N.S. points out in the comments, the above fails if you are working in characteristic 2. There, the matrix $$A=\left(\begin{array}{cc} 0 & 1\\ 1 & 0 \end{array}\right)$$ has minimal and characteristic polynomials $t^2+1 = (t+1)^2$, and it is not diagonalizable (the eigenspace of $1$ has dimension $1$). But if $1\neq -1$, you are set.