Questions tagged [group-theory]

A group is an algebraic structure consisting of a set of elements together with an operation that satisfies four conditions: closure, associativity, identity and invertibility. Group theory is the study of groups.

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266
votes
31answers
28k views

Nice examples of groups which are not obviously groups

I am searching for some groups, where it is not so obvious that they are groups. In the lectures script there are only examples like $\mathbb{Z}$ under addition and other things like that. I don't ...
213
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2answers
7k views

Is there a 0-1 law for the theory of groups?

For each first order sentence $\phi$ in the language of groups, define : $$p_N(\phi)=\frac{\text{number of nonisomorphic groups $G$ of order} \le N\text{ such that } \phi \text{ is valid in } G}{\...
170
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2answers
5k views

Can we ascertain that there exists an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H$?

Let $G,H$ be finite groups. Suppose we have an epimorphism $$G\times G\rightarrow H\times H$$ Can we find an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H$?
110
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1answer
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Is there a characterization of groups with the property $\forall N\unlhd G,\:\exists H\leq G\text{ s.t. }H\cong G/N$?

A common mistake for beginning group theory students is the belief that a quotient of a group $G$ is necessarily isomorphic to a subgroup of $G$. Is there a characterization of the groups in which ...
108
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2answers
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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: $$[x,y^{-1},z]^y[y,z^{...
107
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4answers
21k views

The direct sum $\oplus$ versus the cartesian product $\times$

In the case of abelian groups, I have been treating these two set operations as more or less indistinguishable. In early mathematics courses, one normally defines $A^n := A\times A\times\ldots\times A$...
97
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2answers
8k views

More than 99% of groups of order less than 2000 are of order 1024?

In Algebra: Chapter 0, the author made a remark (footnote on page 82), saying that more than 99% of groups of order less than 2000 are of order 1024. Is this for real? How can one deduce this result? ...
93
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8answers
25k views

Are there real world applications of finite group theory?

I would like to know whether there are examples where finite group theory can be directly applied to solve real world problems outside of mathematics. (Sufficiently applied mathematics such as ...
89
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3answers
3k views

A semigroup $X$ is a group iff for every $g\in X$, $\exists! x\in X$ such that $gxg = g$

The following could have shown up as an exercise in a basic Abstract Algebra text, and if anyone can give me a reference, I will be most grateful. Consider a set $X$ with an associative law of ...
84
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7answers
8k views

What kind of “symmetry” is the symmetric group about?

There are two concepts which are very similar literally in abstract algebra: symmetric group and symmetry group. By definition, the symmetric group on a set is the group consisting of all bijections ...
83
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6answers
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Why are groups more important than semigroups?

This is an open-ended question, as is probably obvious from the title. I understand that it may not be appreciated and I will try not to ask too many such questions. But this one has been bothering me ...
78
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12answers
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Do groups, rings and fields have practical applications in CS? If so, what are some?

This is ONE thing about my undergraduate studies in computer science that I haven't been able to 'link' in my real life (academic and professional). Almost everything I studied I've observed be ...
78
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1answer
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Can a row of five equilateral triangles tile a big equilateral triangle?

Can rotations and translations of this shape perfectly tile some equilateral triangle? I've now also asked this question on mathoverflow. Notes: Obviously I'm ignoring the triangle of side $0$. ...
77
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4answers
4k views

How is a group made up of simple groups?

I've read more than once the analogy between simple groups and prime numbers, stating that any group is built up from simple groups, like any number is built from prime numbers. I've recently started ...
70
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10answers
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Does $G\cong G/H$ imply that $H$ is trivial?

Let $G$ be any group such that $$G\cong G/H$$ where $H$ is a normal subgroup of $G$. If $G$ is finite, then $H$ is the trivial subgroup $\{e\}$. Does the result still hold when $G$ is infinite ? In ...
70
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1answer
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Is Lagrange's theorem the most basic result in finite group theory?

Motivated by this question, can one prove that the order of an element in a finite group divides the order of the group without using Lagrange's theorem? (Or, equivalently, that the order of the group ...
67
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1answer
3k views

How was the Monster's existence originally suspected?

I've read in many places that the Monster group was suspected to exist before it was actually proven to exist, and further that many of its properties were deduced contingent upon existence. For ...
66
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0answers
826 views

Geometric way to view the truncated braid groups?

This is perhaps a vague question, but hopefully there exists literature on the subject. The question is motivated by an answer I gave to this question. I also asked a related question on MO, although ...
64
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10answers
27k views

Examples of finite nonabelian groups.

Can anybody provide some examples of finite nonabelian groups which are not symmetric groups or dihedral groups?
64
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4answers
15k views

Why do we define quotient groups for normal subgroups only?

Let $G \in \mathbf{Grp}$, $H \leq G$, $G/H := \lbrace gH: g \in G \rbrace$. We can then introduce group operation on $G/H$ as $(xH)*(yH) := (xy)H$, so that $G/H$ becomes a quotient group when $H$ is a ...
62
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1answer
803 views

Which Algebraic Properties Distinguish Lie Groups from Abstract Groups?

This question is motivated by a previous one: Conditions for a smooth manifold to admit the structure of a Lie group, and wants to be a sort of "converse". Here I am taking an abstract group $G$ and ...
61
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4answers
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Algebra: Best mental images

I'm curious how people think of Algebras (in the universal sense, i.e., monoids, groups, rings, etc.). Cayley diagrams of groups with few generators are useful for thinking about group actions on ...
60
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3answers
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If I know the order of every element in a group, do I know the group?

Suppose $G$ is a finite group and I know for every $k \leq |G|$ that exactly $n_k$ elements in $G$ have order $k$. Do I know what the group is? Is there a counterexample where two groups $G$ and $H$ ...
57
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8answers
26k views

Normal subgroup of prime index

Generalizing the case $p=2$ we would like to know if the statement below is true. Let $p$ the smallest prime dividing the order of $G$. If $H$ is a subgroup of $G$ with index $p$ then $H$ is normal.
56
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2answers
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Conway's “Murder Weapon”

The following quote is an excerpt from an interview with John Conway: Coxeter came to Cambridge and he gave a lecture, then he had this problem for which he gave proofs for selected examples, ...
55
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6answers
7k views

Intuition behind conjugation in group theory

I am learning group theory, and while learning automorphisms, I came across conjugation as an example in many textbooks. Though the definition itself, (and when considering the case of abelian groups),...
54
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4answers
9k views

Finite Groups with exactly $n$ conjugacy classes $(n=2,3,…)$

I am looking to classify (up to isomorphism) those finite groups $G$ with exactly 2 conjugacy classes. If $G$ is abelian, then each element forms its own conjugacy class, so only the cyclic group of ...
54
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0answers
960 views

A question about Sylow subgroups and $C_G(x)$

Let $G=PQ$ where $P$ and $Q$ are $p$- and $q$-Sylow subgroups of $G$ respectively. In addition, suppose that $P\unlhd G$, $Q\ntrianglelefteq G$, $C_G(P)=Z(G)$ and $C_G(Q)\neq Z(G)$, where $Z(G)$ is ...
53
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14answers
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“Natural” example of cosets

Do you know natural/concrete/appealing examples of right/left cosets in group theory ? This notion is a powerful tool but also a very abstract one for beginners so this is why I'm looking for ...
52
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5answers
9k views

Prove that if $(ab)^i = a^ib^i \forall a,b\in G$ for three consecutive integers $i$ then G is abelian

I've been working on this problem listed in Herstein's Topics in Algebra (Chapter 2.3, problem 4): If $G$ is a group such that $(ab)^i = a^ib^i$ for three consecutive integers $i$ for all $a, b\in ...
51
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4answers
3k views

Conjugate subgroup strictly contained in the initial subgroup?

Let $G$ be a group, $H\subseteq G$ a subgroup and $a\in G$ an element of the group. Is it possible that $aHa^{-1} \subset H$, but $aHa^{-1} \neq H$? If $H$ has finite index or finite order, this is ...
51
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2answers
6k views

What kind of work do modern day algebraists do?

Often times in my studies I get the impression that algebra is just a tool to help with other branches of mathematics, like algebraic geometry, algebraic number theory, algebraic topology, etc. How ...
50
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2answers
38k views

If $G/Z(G)$ is cyclic, then $G$ is abelian

Continuing my work through Dummit & Foote's "Abstract Algebra", 3.1.36 asks the following (which is exactly the same as exercise 5 in this related MSE answer): Prove that if $G/Z(G)$ is cyclic, ...
50
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14answers
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49
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4answers
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Center-commutator duality

I'm reading this article by Keith Conrad, on subgroup series. I'm having trouble with a statement he does at page 6: Any subgroup of $G$ which contains $[G,G]$ is normal in $G$. He says this as ...
49
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9answers
2k views

Examples of group-theoretic results more easily obtained through topology or geometry

Earlier, I was looking at a question here about the abelianization of a certain group $X$. Since $X$ was the fundamental group of a closed surface $\Sigma$, it was easy to compute $X^{ab}$ as $\pi_1(\...
49
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3answers
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Where does the word “torsion” in algebra come from?

Torsion is used to refer to elements of finite order under some binary operation. It doesn't seem to bear any relation to the ordinary everyday use of the word or with its use in differential geometry ...
49
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7answers
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What structure does the alternating group preserve?

A common way to define a group is as the group of structure-preserving transformations on some structured set. For example, the symmetric group on a set $X$ preserves no structure: or, in other words,...
49
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2answers
2k views

Is there a group with exactly 92 elements of order 3?

The number of elements of order 2 in a group is fairly restricted: 0, odd, or infinity. All such possibilities occur already in the trivial group and in dihedral groups. The number of elements of ...
47
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6answers
5k views

Can every group be represented by a group of matrices?

Can every group be represented by a group of matrices? Or are there any counterexamples? Is it possible to prove this from the group axioms?
47
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7answers
6k views

How did early mathematicians make it without Set theory?

It is said that Cauchy was a pioneer of rigour in calculus and a founder of complex analysis. Yet if baffles me as set theory was an invention of the 1870s, 20 years after the death of Cauchy. ...
47
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3answers
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Is there a geometric idea behind Sylow's theorems?

I have a confession to make: none of the proofs of Sylow's theorems I saw clicked with me. My first abstract algebra courses were more on the algebraic side (without mention of group actions and ...
46
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6answers
7k views

Intuition on group homomorphisms

So I'm studying for finals now, and came across the idea of homomorphisms again. This is not a new idea for me at all, having seen them in groups, rings, fields ect. However, on reevaluating them I ...
46
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1answer
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What is the algebraic structure of functions with fixed points?

So I just noticed that the set of functions with a fixed point $$f(x_0)=x_0,$$ are closed under composition $$(f\circ g)(x):=g(f(x)),$$ and with $e(x)=x$, the inverible functions even seem to form ...
46
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0answers
1k views

Subgroups as isotropy subgroups and regular orbits on tuples

Is there some natural or character-theoretic description of the minimum value of d such that G has a regular orbit on Ωd, where G is a finite group acting faithfully on a set Ω? Motivation: In some ...
45
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3answers
16k views

Finite subgroups of the multiplicative group of a field are cyclic

In Grove's book Algebra, Proposition 3.7 at page 94 is the following If $G$ is a finite subgroup of the multiplicative group $F^*$ of a field $F$, then $G$ is cyclic. He starts the proof by ...
45
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6answers
15k views

Order of elements is lcm-closed in abelian groups

How can I prove that if $G$ is an Abelian group with elements $a$ and $b$ with orders $m$ and $n$, respectively, then $G$ contains an element whose order is the least common multiple of $m$ and $n$? ...
45
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4answers
5k views

Alternative proofs that $A_5$ is simple

What different ways are there to prove that the group $A_5$ is simple? I've collected these so far: By directly working with the cycles: page 483 of http://www.math.uiowa.edu/~goodman/algebrabook....
43
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4answers
5k views

Does every set have a group structure?

I know that there is no vector space having precisely $6$ elements. Does every set have a group structure?
43
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6answers
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Can $S^2$ be turned into a topological group?

I know that $S^1$ and $S^3$ can be turned into topological groups by considering complex multiplication and quaternion multiplication respectively, but I don't know how to prove or disprove that $S^2$ ...