Tag Archives: groups

A group G isomorph to the product group G x G

Let’s provide an example of a nontrivial group \(G\) such that \(G \cong G \times G\). For a finite group \(G\) of order \(\vert G \vert =n > 1\), the order of \(G \times G\) is equal to \(n^2\). Hence we have to look at infinite groups in order to get the example we’re seeking for.

We take for \(G\) the infinite direct product \[
G = \prod_{n \in \mathbb N} \mathbb Z_2 = \mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2 \dots,\] where \(\mathbb Z_2\) is endowed with the addition. Now let’s consider the map \[
\begin{array}{l|rcl}
\phi : & G & \longrightarrow & G \times G \\
& (g_1,g_2,g_3, \dots) & \longmapsto & ((g_1,g_3, \dots ),(g_2, g_4, \dots)) \end{array}\]

From the definition of the addition in \(G\) it follows that \(\phi\) is a group homomorphism. \(\phi\) is onto as for any element \(\overline{g}=((g_1, g_2, g_3, \dots),(g_1^\prime, g_2^\prime, g_3^\prime, \dots))\) in \(G \times G\), \(g = (g_1, g_1^\prime, g_2, g_2^\prime, \dots)\) is an inverse image of \(\overline{g}\) under \(\phi\). Also the identity element \(e=(\overline{0},\overline{0}, \dots)\) of \(G\) is the only element of the kernel of \(G\). Hence \(\phi\) is also one-to-one. Finally \(\phi\) is a group isomorphism between \(G\) and \(G \times G\).

Isomorphism of factors does not imply isomorphism of quotient groups

Let \(G\) be a group and \(H, K\) two isomorphic subgroups. We provide an example where the quotient groups \(G / H\) and \(G / K\) are not isomorphic.

Let \(G = \mathbb{Z}_4 \times \mathbb{Z}_2\), with \(H = \langle (\overline{2}, \overline{0}) \rangle\) and \(K = \langle (\overline{0}, \overline{1}) \rangle\). We have \[
H \cong K \cong \mathbb{Z}_2.\] The left cosets of \(H\) in \(G\) are \[
G / H=\{(\overline{0}, \overline{0}) + H, (\overline{1}, \overline{0}) + H, (\overline{0}, \overline{1}) + H, (\overline{1}, \overline{1}) + H\},\] a group having \(4\) elements and for all elements \(x \in G/H\), one can verify that \(2x = H\). Hence \(G / H \cong \mathbb{Z}_2 \times \mathbb{Z}_2\). The left cosets of \(K\) in \(G\) are \[
G / K=\{(\overline{0}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{1}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{2}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{3}, \overline{0}) + K\},\] which is a cyclic group of order \(4\) isomorphic to \(\mathbb{Z}_4\). We finally get the desired conclusion \[
G / H \cong \mathbb{Z}_2 \times \mathbb{Z}_2 \ncong \mathbb{Z}_4 \cong G / K.\]

A group that is not a semi-direct product

Given a group \(G\) with identity element \(e\), a subgroup \(H\), and a normal subgroup \(N \trianglelefteq G\); then we say that \(G\) is the semi-direct product of \(N\) and \(H\) (written \(G=N \rtimes H\)) if \(G\) is the product of subgroups, \(G = NH\) where the subgroups have trivial intersection \(N \cap H= \{e\}\).

Semi-direct products of groups provide examples of non abelian groups. For example the dihedral group \(D_{2n}\) with \(2n\) elements is isomorphic to a semidirect product of the cyclic groups \(\mathbb Z_n\) and \(\mathbb Z_2\). \(D_{2n}\) is the group of isometries preserving a regular polygon \(X\) with \(n\) edges.

Let’see that the converse is not true and present a group that is not a semi-direct product.

The Hamilton’s quaternions group is not a semi-direct product

The Hamilton’s quaternions group \(\mathbb H_8\) is the group consisting of the symbols \(\pm 1, \pm i, \pm j, \pm k\) where\[
-1 = i^2 =j^2 = k^2 \text{ and } ij = k = -ji,jk = i = -kj, ki = j = -ik.\] One can prove that \(\mathbb H_8\) endowed with the product operation above is indeed a group having \(8\) elements where \(1\) is the identity element.

\(\mathbb H_8\) is not abelian as \(ij = k \neq -k = ji\).

Let’s prove that \(\mathbb H_8\) is not the semi-direct product of two subgroups. If that was the case, there would exist a normal subgroup \(N\) and a subgroup \(H\) such that \(G=N \rtimes H\).

  • If \(\vert N \vert = 4\) then \(H = \{1,h\}\) where \(h\) is an element of order \(2\) in \(\mathbb H_8\). Therefore \(h=-1\) which is the only element of order \(2\). But \(-1 \in N\) as \(-1\) is the square of all elements in \(\mathbb H_8 \setminus \{\pm 1\}\). We get the contradiction \(N \cap H \neq \{1\}\).
  • If \(\vert N \vert = 2\) then \(\vert H \vert = 4\) and \(H\) is also normal in \(G\). Noting \(N=\{1,n\}\) we have for \(h \in H\) \(h^{-1}nh=n\) and therefore \(nh=hn\). This proves that the product \(G=NH\) is direct. Also \(N\) is abelian as a cyclic group of order \(2\). \(H\) is also cyclic as all groups of order \(p^2\) with \(p\) prime are abelian. Finally \(G\) would be abelian, again a contradiction.

We can conclude that \(G\) is not a semi-direct product.

A normal subgroup that is not a characteristic

Let’s \(G\) be a group. A characteristic subgroup is a subgroup \(H \subseteq G\) that is mapped to itself by every automorphism of \(G\).

An inner automorphism is an automorphism \(\varphi \in \mathrm{Aut}(G)\) defined by a formula \(\varphi : x \mapsto a^{-1}xa\) where \(a\) is an element of \(G\). An automorphism of a group which is not inner is called an outer automorphism. And a subgroup \(H \subseteq G\) that is mapped to itself by every inner automorphism of \(G\) is called a normal subgroup.

Obviously a characteristic subgroup is a normal subgroup. The converse is not true as we’ll see below.

Example of a direct product

Let \(K\) be a nontrivial group. Then consider the group \(G = K \times K\). The subgroups \(K_1=\{e\} \times K\) and \(K_2=K \times \{e\} \) are both normal in \(G\) as for \((e, k) \in K_1\) and \((a,b) \in G\) we have
\[(a,b)^{-1} (e,x) (a,b) = (a^{-1},b^{-1}) (e,x) (a,b) = (e,b^{-1}xb) \in K_1\] and \(b^{-1}K_1 b = K_1\). Similar relations hold for \(K_2\). As \(K\) is supposed to be nontrivial, we have \(K_1 \neq K_2\).

The exchange automorphism \(\psi : (x,y) \mapsto (y,x)\) exchanges the subgroup \(K_1\) and \(K_2\). Thus, neither \(K_1\) nor \(K_2\) is invariant under all the automorphisms, so neither is characteristic. Therefore, \(K_1\) and \(K_2\) are both normal subgroups of \(G\) that are not characteristic.

When \(K = \mathbb Z_2\) is the cyclic group of order two, \(G = \mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\) is the Klein four-group. In particular, this gives a counterexample where the ambient group is an abelian group.

Example on the additive group \(\mathbb Q\)

Consider the additive group \((\mathbb Q,+)\) of rational numbers. The map \(\varphi : x \mapsto x/2\) is an automorphism. As \((\mathbb Q,+)\) is abelian, all subgroups are normal. However, the subgroup \(\mathbb Z\) is not sent into itself by \(\varphi\) as \(\varphi(1) = 1/ 2 \notin \mathbb Z\). Hence \(\mathbb Z\) is not a characteristic subgroup.

A nonabelian \(p\)-group

Consider a prime number \(p\) and a finite p-group \(G\), i.e. a group of order \(p^n\) with \(n \ge 1\).

If \(n=1\) the group \(G\) is cyclic hence abelian.

For \(n=2\), \(G\) is also abelian. This is a consequence of the fact that the center \(Z(G)\) of a \(p\)-group is non-trivial. Indeed if \(\vert Z(G) \vert =p^2\) then \(G=Z(G)\) is abelian. We can’t have \(\vert Z(G) \vert =p\). If that would be the case, the order of \(H=G / Z(G) \) would be equal to \(p\) and \(H\) would be cyclic, generated by an element \(h\). For any two elements \(g_1,g_2 \in G\), we would be able to write \(g_1=h^{n_1} z_1\) and \(g_2=h^{n_1} z_1\) with \(z_1,z_2 \in Z(G)\). Hence \[
g_1 g_2 = h^{n_1} z_1 h^{n_2} z_2=h^{n_1 + n_2} z_1 z_2= h^{n_2} z_2 h^{n_1} z_1=g_2 g_1,\] proving that \(g_1,g_2\) commutes in contradiction with \(\vert Z(G) \vert < \vert G \vert\). However, all \(p\)-groups are not abelian. For example the unitriangular matrix group \[
U(3,\mathbb Z_p) = \left\{
\begin{pmatrix}
1 & a & b\\
0 & 1 & c\\
0 & 0 & 1\end{pmatrix} \ | \ a,b ,c \in \mathbb Z_p \right\}\] is a \(p\)-group of order \(p^3\). Its center \(Z(U(3,\mathbb Z_p))\) is \[
Z(U(3,\mathbb Z_p)) = \left\{
\begin{pmatrix}
1 & 0 & b\\
0 & 1 & 0\\
0 & 0 & 1\end{pmatrix} \ | \ b \in \mathbb Z_p \right\},\] which is of order \(p\). Therefore \(U(3,\mathbb Z_p)\) is not abelian.

Subset of elements of finite order of a group

Consider a group \(G\) and have a look at the question: is the subset \(S\) of elements of finite order a subgroup of \(G\)?

The answer is positive when any two elements of \(S\) commute. For the proof, consider \(x,y \in S\) of order \(m,n\) respectively. Then \[
\left(xy\right)^{mn} = x^{mn} y^{mn} = (x^m)^n (y^n)^m = e\] where \(e\) is the identity element. Hence \(xy\) is of finite order (less or equal to \(mn\)) and belong to \(S\).

Example of a non abelian group

In that cas, \(S\) might not be subgroup of \(G\). Let’s take for \(G\) the general linear group over \(\mathbb Q\) (the set of rational numbers) of \(2 \times 2\) invertible matrices named \(\text{GL}_2(\mathbb Q)\). The matrices \[
A = \begin{pmatrix}0&1\\1&0\end{pmatrix},\ B=\begin{pmatrix}0 & 2\\\frac{1}{2}& 0\end{pmatrix}\] are of order \(2\). They don’t commute as \[
AB = \begin{pmatrix}\frac{1}{2}&0\\0&2\end{pmatrix} \neq \begin{pmatrix}2&0\\0&\frac{1}{2}\end{pmatrix}=BA.\] Finally, \(AB\) is of infinite order and therefore doesn’t belong to \(S\) proving that \(S\) is not a subgroup of \(G\).

Additive subgroups of vector spaces

Consider a vector space \(V\) over a field \(F\). A subspace \(W \subseteq V\) is an additive subgroup of \((V,+)\). The converse might not be true.

If the characteristic of the field is zero, then a subgroup \(W\) of \(V\) might not be an additive subgroup. For example \(\mathbb R\) is a vector space over \(\mathbb R\) itself. \(\mathbb Q\) is an additive subgroup of \(\mathbb R\). However \(\sqrt{2}= \sqrt{2}.1 \notin \mathbb Q\) proving that \(\mathbb Q\) is not a subspace of \(\mathbb R\).

Another example is \(\mathbb Q\) which is a vector space over itself. \(\mathbb Z\) is an additive subgroup of \(\mathbb Q\), which is not a subspace as \(\frac{1}{2} \notin \mathbb Z\).

Yet, an additive subgroup of a vector space over a prime field \(\mathbb F_p\) with \(p\) prime is a subspace. To prove it, consider an additive subgroup \(W\) of \((V,+)\) and \(x \in W\). For \(\lambda \in F\), we can write \(\lambda = \underbrace{1 + \dots + 1}_{\lambda \text{ times}}\). Consequently \[
\lambda \cdot x = (1 + \dots + 1) \cdot x= \underbrace{x + \dots + x}_{\lambda \text{ times}} \in W.\]

Finally an additive subgroup of a vector space over any finite field is not always a subspace. For a counterexample, take the non-prime finite field \(\mathbb F_{p^2}\) (also named \(\text{GF}(p^2)\)). \(\mathbb F_{p^2}\) is also a vector space over itself. The prime finite field \(\mathbb F_p \subset \mathbb F_{p^2}\) is an additive subgroup that is not a subspace of \(\mathbb F_{p^2}\).

A group isomorphic to its automorphism group

We consider a group \(G\) and we look at its automorphism group \(\text{Aut}(G)\). Can \(G\) be isomorphic to
\(\text{Aut}(G)\)?
The answer is positive and we’ll prove that it is the case for the symmetric group \(S_3\).

Consider the morphism \[
\begin{array}{l|rcl}
\Phi : & S_3 & \longrightarrow & \text{Aut}(S_3) \\
& a & \longmapsto & \varphi_a \end{array}\]
where \(\varphi_a\) is the inner automorphism \(\varphi_a : x \mapsto a^{-1}xa\). It is easy to verify that \(\Phi\) is indeed a group morphism. The kernel of \(\Phi\) is the center of \(S_3\) which is having the identity for only element. Hence \(\Phi\) is one-to-one and \(S_3 \simeq \Phi(S_3)\). Therefore it is sufficient to prove that \(\Phi\) is onto. As \(|S_3|=6\), we’ll be finished if we prove that \(|\text{Aut}(S_3)|=6\).

Generally, for \(G_1,G_2\) groups and \(f : G_1 \to G_2\) a one-to-one group morphism, the image of an element \(x\) of order \(k\) is an element \(f(x)\) having the same order \(k\). So for \(\varphi \in \text{Aut}(S_3)\) the image of a transposition is a transposition. As the transpositions \(\{(1 \ 2), (1 \ 3), (2 \ 3)\}\) generate \((S_3)\), \(\varphi\) is completely defined by \(\{\varphi((1 \ 2)), \varphi((1 \ 3)), \varphi((2 \ 3))\}\). We have 3 choices to define the image of \((1 \ 2)\) under \(\varphi\) and then 2 choices for the image of \((1 \ 3)\) under \(\varphi\). The image of \((2 \ 3)\) under \(\varphi\) is the remaining transposition.

Finally, we have proven that \(|\text{Aut}(S_3)|=6\) as desired and \(S_3 \simeq \text{Aut}(S_3)\).

A simple group whose order is not a prime

Consider a finite group \(G\) whose order (number of elements) is a prime number. It is well known that \(G\) is cyclic and simple. Which means that \(G\) has no non trivial normal subgroup.

Is the converse true, i.e. are the cyclic groups with prime orders the only simple groups? The answer is negative. We prove here that for \(n \ge 5\) the alternating group \(A_n\) is simple. In particular \(A_5\) whose order is equal to \(60\) is simple. Continue reading A simple group whose order is not a prime

The set of all commutators in a group need not be a subgroup

I here provide a simple example of a group whose set of commutators is not a subgroup. The counterexample is due to P.J. Cassidy (1979).

Description of the group \(G\)

Let \(k[x,y]\) denote the ring of all polynomials in two variables over a field \(k\), and let \(k[x]\) and \(k[y]\) denote the subrings of all polynomials in \(x\) and in \(y\) respectively. \(G\) is the set of all upper unitriangular matrices of the form
\[A=\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & f(x) & h(x,y) \\
0 & 1 & g(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)\] where \(f(x) \in k[x]\), \(g(y) \in k[y]\), and \(h(x,y) \in k[x,y]\). The matrix \(A\) will also be denoted \((f,g,h)\).
Let’s verify that \(G\) is a group. The products of two elements \((f,g,h)\) and \((f^\prime,g^\prime,h^\prime)\) is
\[\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & f(x) & h(x,y) \\
0 & 1 & g(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)
\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & f^\prime(x) & h^\prime(x,y) \\
0 & 1 & g^\prime(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)\]
\[=\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & f(x)+f^\prime(x) & h(x,y)+h^\prime(x,y)+f(x)g^\prime(y) \\
0 & 1 & g(y)+g^\prime(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)\] which is an element of \(G\). We also have:
\[\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & f(x) & h(x,y) \\
0 & 1 & g(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)^{-1} =
\left(\begin{array}{ccc}
1 & -f(x) & f(x)g(y) – h(x,y) \\
0 & 1 & -g(y) \\
0 & 0 & 1 \end{array}\right)\] proving that the inverse of an element of \(G\) is also an element of \(G\). Continue reading The set of all commutators in a group need not be a subgroup