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In
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
, a group is a set equipped with an operation that combines any two elements to form a third element while being
associative In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
as well as having an
identity element In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ...
and
inverse elements In abstract algebra, the idea of an inverse element generalises the concepts of negation (sign reversal) (in relation to addition Addition (usually signified by the plus symbol ) is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic Arithmetic ...
. These three conditions, called group
axiom An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be truth, true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek ''axíōma'' () 'that which is thought worthy or fit' o ...

axiom
s, hold for number systems and many other mathematical structures. For example, the integers together with the addition operation form a group. The formulation of the axioms is, however, detached from the concrete nature of the group and its operation. This allows one to handle entities of very different mathematical origins in a flexible way, while retaining essential structural aspects of many
mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deductive reasoning and mathematical proofs ...
s. The ubiquity of groups in numerous areas—both within and outside mathematics—makes them a central organizing principle of contemporary mathematics. Groups arise naturally in
geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures. A mat ...

geometry
for the study of
symmetries Symmetry (from Ancient Greek, Greek συμμετρία ''symmetria'' "agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement") in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. In mathematics, "symmetry" ...
and
geometric transformation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...
s: the symmetries of an object form a group, called the
symmetry group In group theory The popular puzzle Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik has been used as an illustration of permutation group">Ernő_Rubik.html" ;"title="Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik">Rubik's cube invented in 1974 ...
of the object, and the transformations of a given type form generally a group. These examples were at the origin of the concept of group (together with
Galois group In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
s).
Lie group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
s arise as symmetry groups in geometry but appear also in the
Standard Model The Standard Model of particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsi ...

Standard Model
of
particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which rel ...
. The
Poincaré group The Poincaré group, named after Henri Poincaré Jules Henri Poincaré ( S: stress final syllable ; 29 April 1854 – 17 July 1912) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to ...
is a Lie group consisting of the symmetries of
spacetime In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model which fuses the three-dimensional space, three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. Minkowski diagram, Spacetime diagrams can be used to visuali ...
in
special relativity In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force ...
.
Point group In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. It is concerned with properties of space tha ...
s describe symmetry in molecular chemistry. The concept of a group arose from the study of
polynomial equations In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gener ...
, starting with
Évariste Galois Évariste Galois (; ; 25 October 1811 – 31 May 1832) was a French mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...
in the 1830s, who introduced the term of ''group'' (, in French) for the symmetry group of the
roots A root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a lar ...
of an equation, now called a
Galois group In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
. After contributions from other fields such as
number theory Number theory (or arithmetic or higher arithmetic in older usage) is a branch of devoted primarily to the study of the s and . German mathematician (1777–1855) said, "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences—and number theory is the queen ...

number theory
and geometry, the group notion was generalized and firmly established around 1870. Modern
group theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no ...
—an active mathematical discipline—studies groups in their own right. To explore groups, mathematicians have devised various notions to break groups into smaller, better-understandable pieces, such as
subgroup In group theory, a branch of mathematics, given a group (mathematics), group ''G'' under a binary operation ∗, a subset ''H'' of ''G'' is called a subgroup of ''G'' if ''H'' also forms a group under the operation ∗. More precisely ...
s,
quotient group A quotient group or factor group is a math Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geome ...
s and
simple group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...
s. In addition to their abstract properties, group theorists also study the different ways in which a group can be expressed concretely, both from a point of view of
representation theory Representation theory is a branch of mathematics that studies abstract algebra, abstract algebraic structures by ''representing'' their element (set theory), elements as linear transformations of vector spaces, and studies Module (mathematics), ...
(that is, through the representations of the group) and of
computational group theory In mathematics, computational group theory is the study of group (mathematics), groups by means of computers. It is concerned with designing and analysing algorithms and data structures to compute information about groups. The subject has attracted ...
. A theory has been developed for
finite group In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
s, which culminated with the
classification of finite simple groups In mathematics, the classification of the finite simple groups is a theorem stating that every List of finite simple groups, finite simple group is either cyclic groups, cyclic, or alternating groups, alternating, or it belongs to a broad infinite ...
, completed in 2004. Since the mid-1980s,
geometric group theory Geometric group theory is an area in mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mat ...
, which studies
finitely generated group In algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. In ...
s as geometric objects, has become an active area in group theory.


Definition and illustration


First example: the integers

One of the more familiar groups is the set of
integers An integer (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...

integers
\Z = \ together with
addition Addition (usually signified by the plus symbol The plus and minus signs, and , are mathematical symbol A mathematical symbol is a figure or a combination of figures that is used to represent a mathematical object A mathematical object is an ...

addition
. For any two integers a and b, the
sum
sum
a+b is also an integer; this '' closure'' property says that + is a
binary operation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
on \Z. The following properties of integer addition serve as a model for the group axioms in the definition below. *For all integers a, b and c, one has (a+b)+c=a+(b+c). Expressed in words, adding a to b first, and then adding the result to c gives the same final result as adding a to the sum of b and c. This property is known as ''
associativity In mathematics, the associative property is a property of some binary operations, which means that rearranging the parentheses in an expression will not change the result. In propositional logic, associativity is a Validity (logic), valid rule ...
''. *If a is any integer, then 0+a=a and a+0=a.
Zero 0 (zero) is a number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and ...

Zero
is called the ''
identity element In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ...
'' of addition because adding it to any integer returns the same integer. *For every integer a, there is an integer b such that a+b=0 and b+a=0. The integer b is called the ''
inverse element In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
'' of the integer a and is denoted -a. The integers, together with the operation +, form a mathematical object belonging to a broad class sharing similar structural aspects. To appropriately understand these structures as a collective, the following
definition A definition is a statement of the meaning of a term (a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...

definition
is developed.


Definition

A group is a set G together with a
binary operation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
on G, here denoted "\cdot", that combines any two elements a and b to form an element of G, denoted a\cdot b, such that the following three requirements, known as ''group axioms'', are satisfied: ;Associativity: For all a, b, c in G, one has (a\cdot b)\cdot c=a\cdot(b\cdot c). ;Identity element: There exists an element e in G such that, for every a in G, one has e\cdot a=a and a\cdot e=a. :Such an element is unique (
see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by The Rascals, on the album ''See'' ** See (Tycho song), "See" (Tycho song), song by Tycho * T ...
). It is called ''the identity element'' of the group. ;Inverse element: For each a in G, there exists an element b in G such that a\cdot b=e and b\cdot a=e, where e is the identity element. :For each a, the element b is unique (
see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by The Rascals, on the album ''See'' ** See (Tycho song), "See" (Tycho song), song by Tycho * T ...
); it is called ''the inverse'' of a and is commonly denoted a^.


Notation and terminology

Formally, the group is the
ordered pair In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ...

ordered pair
of a set and a binary operation on this set that satisfies the group axioms. The set is called the ''underlying set'' of the group, and the operation is called the ''group operation'' or the ''group law''. A group and its underlying set are thus two different
mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deductive reasoning and mathematical proofs ...
s. To avoid cumbersome notation, it is common to abuse notation by using the same symbol to denote both. This reflects also an informal way of thinking: that the group is the same as the set except that it has been enriched by additional structure provided by the operation. For example, consider the set of
real number In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...
s \R, which has the operations of addition a+b and multiplication ab. Formally, \R is a set, (\R,+) is a group, and (\R,+,\cdot) is a
field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlefield * Lawn, an area of mowed grass * Meadow, a grassl ...
. But it is common to write \R to denote any of these three objects. The ''additive group'' of the field \R is the group whose underlying set is \R and whose operation is addition. The ''multiplicative group'' of the field \R is the group \R^ whose underlying set is the set of nonzero real numbers \R \smallsetminus \ and whose operation is multiplication. More generally, one speaks of an ''additive group'' whenever the group operation is notated as addition; in this case, the identity is typically denoted 0, and the inverse of an element x is denoted -x. Similarly, one speaks of a ''multiplicative group'' whenever the group operation is notated as multiplication; in this case, the identity is typically denoted 1, and the inverse of an element x is denoted x^. In a multiplicative group, the operation symbol is usually omitted entirely, so that the operation is denoted by juxtaposition, ab instead of a\cdot b. The definition of a group does not require that a\cdot b=b\cdot a for all elements a and b in G. If this additional condition holds, then the operation is said to be
commutative In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
, and the group is called an
abelian group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
. It is a common convention that for an abelian group either additive or multiplicative notation may be used, but for a nonabelian group only multiplicative notation is used. Several other notations are commonly used for groups whose elements are not numbers. For a group whose elements are
functions Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
, the operation is often
function composition In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
f\circ g; then the identity may be denoted id. In the more specific cases of
geometric transformation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...
groups,
symmetry Symmetry (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
groups,
permutation group In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
s, and
automorphism group In mathematics, the automorphism group of an object ''X'' is the group (mathematics), group consisting of automorphisms of ''X''. For example, if ''X'' is a Dimension (vector space), finite-dimensional vector space, then the automorphism group of ' ...
s, the symbol \circ is often omitted, as for multiplicative groups. Many other variants of notation may be encountered.


Second example: a symmetry group

Two figures in the plane are
congruent Congruence may refer to: Mathematics * Congruence (geometry), being the same size and shape * Congruence or congruence relation, in abstract algebra, an equivalence relation on an algebraic structure that is compatible with the structure * In modu ...
if one can be changed into the other using a combination of
rotation A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotation plane'', and the imaginary line extending from the center an ...
s,
reflectionReflection or reflexion may refer to: Philosophy * Self-reflection Science * Reflection (physics), a common wave phenomenon ** Specular reflection, reflection from a smooth surface *** Mirror image, a reflection in a mirror or in water ** Signal r ...
s, and
translation Translation is the communication of the meaning Meaning most commonly refers to: * Meaning (linguistics), meaning which is communicated through the use of language * Meaning (philosophy), definition, elements, and types of meaning discusse ...
s. Any figure is congruent to itself. However, some figures are congruent to themselves in more than one way, and these extra congruences are called
symmetries Symmetry (from Ancient Greek, Greek συμμετρία ''symmetria'' "agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement") in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. In mathematics, "symmetry" ...

symmetries
. A square has eight symmetries. These are: * the
identity operation image:Function-x.svg, Graph of the identity function on the real numbers In mathematics, an identity function, also called an identity relation or identity map or identity transformation, is a function (mathematics), function that always returns t ...
leaving everything unchanged, denoted id; * rotations of the square around its center by 90°, 180°, and 270° clockwise, denoted by r_1, r_2 and r_3, respectively; * reflections about the horizontal and vertical middle line (f_ and f_), or through the two
diagonal In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position o ...

diagonal
s (f_ and f_). These symmetries are
functions Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
. Each sends a point in the square to the corresponding point under the symmetry. For example, r_1 sends a point to its rotation 90° clockwise around the square's center, and f_ sends a point to its reflection across the square's vertical middle line. Composing two of these symmetries gives another symmetry. These symmetries determine a group called the
dihedral group In mathematics, a dihedral group is the group (mathematics), group of symmetry, symmetries of a regular polygon, which includes rotational symmetry, rotations and reflection symmetry, reflections. Dihedral groups are among the simplest example ...
of degree four, denoted \mathrm_4. The underlying set of the group is the above set of symmetries, and the group operation is function composition. Two symmetries are combined by composing them as functions, that is, applying the first one to the square, and the second one to the result of the first application. The result of performing first a and then b is written symbolically ''from right to left'' as b\circ a ("apply the symmetry b after performing the symmetry a"). This is the usual notation for composition of functions. The group table lists the results of all such compositions possible. For example, rotating by 270° clockwise (r_3) and then reflecting horizontally (f_) is the same as performing a reflection along the diagonal (f_). Using the above symbols, highlighted in blue in the group table: f_\mathrm h \circ r_3= f_\mathrm d. Given this set of symmetries and the described operation, the group axioms can be understood as follows. ''Binary operation'': Composition is a binary operation. That is, a\circ b is a symmetry for any two symmetries a and b. For example, r_3\circ f_\mathrm h = f_\mathrm c, that is, rotating 270° clockwise after reflecting horizontally equals reflecting along the counter-diagonal (f_). Indeed every other combination of two symmetries still gives a symmetry, as can be checked using the group table. ''Associativity'': The associativity axiom deals with composing more than two symmetries: Starting with three elements a, b and c of \mathrm_4, there are two possible ways of using these three symmetries in this order to determine a symmetry of the square. One of these ways is to first compose a and b into a single symmetry, then to compose that symmetry with c. The other way is to first compose b and c, then to compose the resulting symmetry with a. These two ways must give always the same result, that is, (a\circ b)\circ c = a\circ (b\circ c), For example, (f_\circ f_)\circ r_2=f_\circ (f_\circ r_2) can be checked using the group table: \begin (f_\mathrm d\circ f_\mathrm v)\circ r_2 &=r_3\circ r_2=r_1\\ f_\mathrm d\circ (f_\mathrm v\circ r_2) &=f_\mathrm d\circ f_\mathrm h =r_1. \end ''Identity element'': The identity element is \mathrm, as it does not change any symmetry a when composed with it either on the left or on the right. ''Inverse element'': Each symmetry has an inverse: \mathrm, the reflections f_, f_, f_, f_ and the 180° rotation r_2 are their own inverse, because performing them twice brings the square back to its original orientation. The rotations r_3 and r_1 are each other's inverses, because rotating 90° and then rotation 270° (or vice versa) yields a rotation over 360° which leaves the square unchanged. This is easily verified on the table. In contrast to the group of integers above, where the order of the operation is irrelevant, it does matter in \mathrm_4, as, for example, f_\circ r_1=f_ but r_1\circ f_=f_. In other words, \mathrm_4 is not abelian.


History

The modern concept of an abstract group developed out of several fields of mathematics. The original motivation for group theory was the quest for solutions of
polynomial equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
s of degree higher than 4. The 19th-century French mathematician
Évariste Galois Évariste Galois (; ; 25 October 1811 – 31 May 1832) was a French mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...
, extending prior work of
Paolo Ruffini Paolo Ruffini (September 22, 1765 – May 10, 1822) was an Italian mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as qua ...

Paolo Ruffini
and
Joseph-Louis Lagrange Joseph-Louis Lagrange (born Giuseppe Luigi Lagrangiasymmetry group In group theory The popular puzzle Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik has been used as an illustration of permutation group">Ernő_Rubik.html" ;"title="Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik">Rubik's cube invented in 1974 ...
of its
roots A root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a lar ...
(solutions). The elements of such a
Galois group In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
correspond to certain
permutation In , a permutation of a is, loosely speaking, an arrangement of its members into a or , or if the set is already ordered, a rearrangement of its elements. The word "permutation" also refers to the act or process of changing the linear order o ...

permutation
s of the roots. At first, Galois's ideas were rejected by his contemporaries, and published only posthumously. More general
permutation group In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
s were investigated in particular by
Augustin Louis Cauchy Baron Augustin-Louis Cauchy (; ; 21 August 178923 May 1857) was a French mathematician, engineer, and physicist who made pioneering contributions to several branches of mathematics, including mathematical analysis and continuum mechanics. He was ...

Augustin Louis Cauchy
.
Arthur Cayley Arthur Cayley (; 16 August 1821 – 26 January 1895) was a prolific British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such ...

Arthur Cayley
's ''On the theory of groups, as depending on the symbolic equation \theta^n=1'' (1854) gives the first abstract definition of a
finite group In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
. Geometry was a second field in which groups were used systematically, especially symmetry groups as part of
Felix Klein Christian Felix Klein (; 25 April 1849 – 22 June 1925) was a German mathematician and mathematics educator, known for his work with group theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as ...
's 1872
Erlangen program In mathematics, the Erlangen program is a method of characterizing geometries based on group theory The popular puzzle Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik has been used as an illustration of permutation group">Ernő_Rubik.html" ;"titl ...
. After novel geometries such as
hyperbolic Hyperbolic is an adjective describing something that resembles or pertains to a hyperbola (a curve), to hyperbole (an overstatement or exaggeration), or to hyperbolic geometry. The following phenomena are described as ''hyperbolic'' because they ...
and
projective geometry In mathematics, projective geometry is the study of geometric properties that are invariant with respect to projective transformations. This means that, compared to elementary Euclidean geometry, projective geometry has a different setting, proj ...
had emerged, Klein used group theory to organize them in a more coherent way. Further advancing these ideas,
Sophus Lie Marius Sophus Lie ( ; ; 17 December 1842 – 18 February 1899) was a Norway, Norwegian mathematician. He largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the study of geometry and differential equations. Biography Marius Sop ...

Sophus Lie
founded the study of
Lie group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
s in 1884. The third field contributing to group theory was
number theory Number theory (or arithmetic or higher arithmetic in older usage) is a branch of devoted primarily to the study of the s and . German mathematician (1777–1855) said, "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences—and number theory is the queen ...

number theory
. Certain
abelian group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
structures had been used implicitly in
Carl Friedrich Gauss Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; german: Gauß ; la, Carolus Fridericus Gauss; 30 April 177723 February 1855) was a German mathematician This is a List of German mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of m ...

Carl Friedrich Gauss
's number-theoretical work ''
Disquisitiones Arithmeticae Title page of the first edition The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
'' (1798), and more explicitly by
Leopold Kronecker Leopold Kronecker (; 7 December 1823 – 29 December 1891) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of German ...

Leopold Kronecker
. In 1847,
Ernst Kummer Ernst Eduard Kummer (29 January 1810 – 14 May 1893) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see ...
made early attempts to prove
Fermat's Last Theorem In number theory Number theory (or arithmetic or higher arithmetic in older usage) is a branch of devoted primarily to the study of the s and . German mathematician (1777–1855) said, "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences—and number ...
by developing groups describing factorization into
prime number A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that is not a Product (mathematics), product of two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime ...
s. The convergence of these various sources into a uniform theory of groups started with
Camille Jordan Marie Ennemond Camille Jordan (; 5 January 1838 – 22 January 1922) was a French mathematician, known both for his foundational work in group theory and for his influential ''Cours d'analyse''. Biography Jordan was born in Lyon and educated a ...
's (1870).
Walther von Dyck Walther Franz Anton von Dyck (6 December 1856 – 5 November 1934), born Dyck and later von, ennobled, was a Germany, German mathematician. He is credited with being the first to define a mathematical group (mathematics), group, in the modern sen ...
(1882) introduced the idea of specifying a group by means of generators and relations, and was also the first to give an axiomatic definition of an "abstract group", in the terminology of the time. As of the 20th century, groups gained wide recognition by the pioneering work of
Ferdinand Georg Frobenius Ferdinand Georg Frobenius (26 October 1849 – 3 August 1917) was a Germans, German mathematician, best known for his contributions to the theory of elliptic functions, differential equations, number theory, and to group theory. He is known for th ...
and
William Burnside :''This English mathematician is sometimes confused with the Irish mathematician William S. Burnside (1839–1920).'' __NOTOC__ William Burnside (2 July 1852 – 21 August 1927) was an English mathematician. He is known mostly as an early researc ...
, who worked on
representation theory Representation theory is a branch of mathematics that studies abstract algebra, abstract algebraic structures by ''representing'' their element (set theory), elements as linear transformations of vector spaces, and studies Module (mathematics), ...
of finite groups,
Richard Brauer Richard Dagobert Brauer (February 10, 1901 – April 17, 1977) was a leading German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For ci ...

Richard Brauer
's
modular representation theory Modular representation theory is a branch of mathematics, and is the part of representation theory that studies linear representations of finite groups over a field (mathematics), field ''K'' of positive characteristic (algebra), characteristic ''p ...
and
Issai Schur Issai Schur (January 10, 1875 – January 10, 1941) was a Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies b ...
's papers. The theory of Lie groups, and more generally
locally compact group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gener ...
s was studied by
Hermann Weyl Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl, (; 9 November 1885 – 8 December 1955) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens o ...

Hermann Weyl
,
Élie Cartan Élie Joseph Cartan, ForMemRS Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a ...
and many others. Its algebraic counterpart, the theory of
algebraic group In algebraic geometry, an algebraic group (or group variety) is a Group (mathematics), group that is an algebraic variety, such that the multiplication and inversion operations are given by regular map (algebraic geometry), regular maps on the varie ...
s, was first shaped by
Claude Chevalley Claude Chevalley (; 11 February 1909 – 28 June 1984) was a French mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as q ...
(from the late 1930s) and later by the work of
Armand Borel Armand Borel (21 May 1923 – 11 August 2003) was a Swiss mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity ...

Armand Borel
and
Jacques Tits Jacques Tits () (12 August 1930 – 5 December 2021) was a Belgian-born French mathematician who worked on group theory The popular puzzle Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik has been used as an illustration of permutation group">E ...
. The
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
's 1960–61 Group Theory Year brought together group theorists such as
Daniel Gorenstein Daniel E. Gorenstein (January 1, 1923 – August 26, 1992) was an American mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...

Daniel Gorenstein
, John G. Thompson and
Walter Feit
Walter Feit
, laying the foundation of a collaboration that, with input from numerous other mathematicians, led to the
classification of finite simple groups In mathematics, the classification of the finite simple groups is a theorem stating that every List of finite simple groups, finite simple group is either cyclic groups, cyclic, or alternating groups, alternating, or it belongs to a broad infinite ...
, with the final step taken by
Aschbacher
Aschbacher
and Smith in 2004. This project exceeded previous mathematical endeavours by its sheer size, in both length of proof and number of researchers. Research concerning this classification proof is ongoing. These days, group theory is still a highly active mathematical branch, impacting many other fields, as the examples below illustrate.


Elementary consequences of the group axioms

Basic facts about all groups that can be obtained directly from the group axioms are commonly subsumed under ''elementary group theory''. For example, Mathematical induction, repeated applications of the associativity axiom show that the unambiguity of a\cdot b\cdot c=(a\cdot b)\cdot c=a\cdot(b\cdot c) generalizes to more than three factors. Because this implies that parentheses can be inserted anywhere within such a series of terms, parentheses are usually omitted. Individual axioms may be "weakened" to assert only the existence of a left identity and left inverse element, left inverses. From these ''one-sided axioms'', one can prove that the left identity is also a right identity and a left inverse is also a right inverse for the same element. Since they define exactly the same structures as groups, collectively the axioms are no weaker.


Uniqueness of identity element

The group axioms imply that the identity element is unique: If e and f are identity elements of a group, then e=e\cdot f=f. Therefore it is customary to speak of ''the'' identity.


Uniqueness of inverses

The group axioms also imply that the inverse of each element is unique: If a group element a has both b and c as inverses, then Therefore it is customary to speak of ''the'' inverse of an element.


Division

Given elements a and b of a group G, there is a unique solution x in G to the equation a\cdot x=b, namely a^\cdot b. (One usually avoids using fraction notation \tfrac unless G is abelian, because of the ambiguity of whether it means a^\cdot b or b\cdot a^.) It follows that for each a in G, the function G\to G that maps each x to a\cdot x is a bijection; it is called ''left multiplication by a'' or ''left translation by a''. Similarly, given a and b, the unique solution to x\cdot a=b is b\cdot a^. For each a, the function G\to G that maps each x to x\cdot a is a bijection called ''right multiplication by a'' or ''right translation by a''.


Basic concepts

When studying sets, one uses concepts such as subset, function, and quotient by an equivalence relation. When studying groups, one uses instead
subgroup In group theory, a branch of mathematics, given a group (mathematics), group ''G'' under a binary operation ∗, a subset ''H'' of ''G'' is called a subgroup of ''G'' if ''H'' also forms a group under the operation ∗. More precisely ...
s, group homomorphism, homomorphisms, and
quotient group A quotient group or factor group is a math Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geome ...
s. These are the appropriate analogues that take into account the existence of the group structure.


Group homomorphisms

Group homomorphisms are functions that respect group structure; they may be used to relate two groups. A ''homomorphism'' from a group (G,\cdot) to a group (H,*) is a function \varphi:G\to H such that It would be natural to require also that \varphi respect identities, \varphi(1_G)=1_H, and inverses, \varphi(a^)=\varphi(a)^ for all a in G. However, these additional requirements need not be included in the definition of homomorphisms, because they are already implied by the requirement of respecting the group operation. The ''identity homomorphism'' of a group G is the homomorphism \iota_G:G\to G that maps each element of G to itself. An ''inverse homomorphism'' of a homomorphism \varphi:G\to H is a homomorphism \psi:H\to G such that \psi\circ\varphi=\iota_G and \varphi\circ\psi=\iota_H, that is, such that \psi\bigl(\varphi(g)\bigr)=g for all g in G and such that \varphi\bigl(\psi(h)\bigr)=h for all h in H. An ''group isomorphism, isomorphism'' is a homomorphism that has an inverse homomorphism; equivalently, it is a bijective homomorphism. Groups G and H are called ''isomorphic'' if there exists an isomorphism \varphi:G\to H. In this case, H can be obtained from G simply by renaming its elements according to the function \varphi; then any statement true for G is true for H, provided that any specific elements mentioned in the statement are also renamed. The collection of all groups, together with the homomorphisms between them, form a category (mathematics), category, the category of groups.


Subgroups

Informally, a ''subgroup'' is a group H contained within a bigger one, G: it has a subset of the elements of G, with the same operation. Concretely, this means that the identity element of G must be contained in H, and whenever h_1 and h_2 are both in H, then so are h_1\cdot h_2 and h_1^, so the elements of H, equipped with the group operation on G restricted to H, indeed form a group. In the example of symmetries of a square, the identity and the rotations constitute a subgroup R=\, highlighted in red in the group table of the example: any two rotations composed are still a rotation, and a rotation can be undone by (i.e., is inverse to) the complementary rotations 270° for 90°, 180° for 180°, and 90° for 270°. The subgroup test provides a Necessary and sufficient conditions, necessary and sufficient condition for a nonempty subset ''H'' of a group ''G'' to be a subgroup: it is sufficient to check that g^\cdot h\in H for all elements g and h in H. Knowing a group's lattice of subgroups, subgroups is important in understanding the group as a whole. Given any subset S of a group G, the subgroup generated by S consists of products of elements of S and their inverses. It is the smallest subgroup of G containing S. In the example of symmetries of a square, the subgroup generated by r_2 and f_ consists of these two elements, the identity element \mathrm, and the element f_=f_\cdot r_2. Again, this is a subgroup, because combining any two of these four elements or their inverses (which are, in this particular case, these same elements) yields an element of this subgroup.


Cosets

In many situations it is desirable to consider two group elements the same if they differ by an element of a given subgroup. For example, in the symmetry group of a square, once any reflection is performed, rotations alone cannot return the square to its original position, so one can think of the reflected positions of the square as all being equivalent to each other, and as inequivalent to the unreflected positions; the rotation operations are irrelevant to the question whether a reflection has been performed. Cosets are used to formalize this insight: a subgroup H determines left and right cosets, which can be thought of as translations of H by an arbitrary group element g. In symbolic terms, the ''left'' and ''right'' cosets of H, containing an element g, are The left cosets of any subgroup H form a Partition of a set, partition of G; that is, the Union (set theory), union of all left cosets is equal to G and two left cosets are either equal or have an empty set, empty Intersection (set theory), intersection. The first case g_1H=g_2H happens if and only if, precisely when g_1^\cdot g_2\in H, i.e., when the two elements differ by an element of H. Similar considerations apply to the right cosets of H. The left cosets of H may or may not be the same as its right cosets. If they are (that is, if all g in G satisfy gH=Hg), then H is said to be a ''normal subgroup''. In \mathrm_4, the group of symmetries of a square, with its subgroup R of rotations, the left cosets gR are either equal to R, if g is an element of R itself, or otherwise equal to U=f_R=\ (highlighted in green in the group table of \mathrm_4). The subgroup R is normal, because f_R=U=Rf_ and similarly for the other elements of the group. (In fact, in the case of \mathrm_4, the cosets generated by reflections are all equal: f_R=f_R=f_R=f_R.)


Quotient groups

In some situations the set of cosets of a subgroup can be endowed with a group law, giving a ''quotient group'' or ''factor group''. For this to be possible, the subgroup has to be normal subgroup, normal. Given any normal subgroup ''N'', the quotient group is defined by G/N = \, where the notation G/N is read as "G modulo N". This set inherits a group operation (sometimes called coset multiplication, or coset addition) from the original group G: the product of two cosets gN and hN is (gN) \cdot (hN) = (gh)N for all g and h in G. This definition is motivated by the idea (itself an instance of general structural considerations outlined above) that the map G\to G/N that associates to any element g its coset gN should be a group homomorphism, or by general abstract considerations called universal property, universal properties. The coset eN = N serves as the identity in this group, and the inverse of gN in the quotient group is The elements of the quotient group \mathrm_4/R are R itself, which represents the identity, and U=f_R. The group operation on the quotient is shown in the table. For example, U\cdot U=f_R\cdot f_R=(f_\cdot f_)R=R. Both the subgroup R=\, as well as the corresponding quotient are abelian, whereas \mathrm_4 is not abelian. Building bigger groups by smaller ones, such as \mathrm_4 from its subgroup R and the quotient \mathrm_4/R is abstracted by a notion called semidirect product. Quotient groups and subgroups together form a way of describing every group by its ''presentation of a group, presentation'': any group is the quotient of the free group over the ''Generating set of a group, generators'' of the group, quotiented by the subgroup of ''relations''. The dihedral group \mathrm_4, for example, can be generated by two elements r and f (for example, r=r_1, the right rotation and f=f_ the vertical (or any other) reflection), which means that every symmetry of the square is a finite composition of these two symmetries or their inverses. Together with the relations r^4=f^2=(r\cdot f)^2=1, the group is completely described. A presentation of a group can also be used to construct the Cayley graph, a device used to graphically capture discrete groups. Sub- and quotient groups are related in the following way: a subgroup H of G corresponds to an injective map H\to G, for which any element of the target has at most one preimage, element that maps to it. The counterpart to injective maps are surjective maps (every element of the target is mapped onto), such as the canonical map Interpreting subgroup and quotients in light of these homomorphisms emphasizes the structural concept inherent to these definitions. In general, homomorphisms are neither injective nor surjective. The Kernel (algebra), kernel and Image (mathematics), image of group homomorphisms and the first isomorphism theorem address this phenomenon.


Examples and applications

Examples and applications of groups abound. A starting point is the group \Z of integers with addition as group operation, introduced above. If instead of addition multiplication is considered, one obtains multiplicative groups. These groups are predecessors of important constructions in abstract algebra. Groups are also applied in many other mathematical areas. Mathematical objects are often examined by functor, associating groups to them and studying the properties of the corresponding groups. For example, Henri Poincaré founded what is now called algebraic topology by introducing the fundamental group. By means of this connection, Glossary of topology, topological properties such as Neighbourhood (mathematics), proximity and continuous function, continuity translate into properties of groups. For example, elements of the fundamental group are represented by loops. The second image shows some loops in a plane minus a point. The blue loop is considered null-homotopic (and thus irrelevant), because it can be homotopy, continuously shrunk to a point. The presence of the hole prevents the orange loop from being shrunk to a point. The fundamental group of the plane with a point deleted turns out to be infinite cyclic, generated by the orange loop (or any other loop winding number, winding once around the hole). This way, the fundamental group detects the hole. In more recent applications, the influence has also been reversed to motivate geometric constructions by a group-theoretical background. In a similar vein,
geometric group theory Geometric group theory is an area in mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mat ...
employs geometric concepts, for example in the study of hyperbolic groups. Further branches crucially applying groups include algebraic geometry and number theory. In addition to the above theoretical applications, many practical applications of groups exist. Cryptography relies on the combination of the abstract group theory approach together with algorithmical knowledge obtained in
computational group theory In mathematics, computational group theory is the study of group (mathematics), groups by means of computers. It is concerned with designing and analysing algorithms and data structures to compute information about groups. The subject has attracted ...
, in particular when implemented for finite groups. Applications of group theory are not restricted to mathematics; sciences such as physics, chemistry and computer science benefit from the concept.


Numbers

Many number systems, such as the integers and the rationals, enjoy a naturally given group structure. In some cases, such as with the rationals, both addition and multiplication operations give rise to group structures. Such number systems are predecessors to more general algebraic structures known as ring (mathematics), rings and field (mathematics), fields. Further abstract algebraic concepts such as module (mathematics), modules, vector spaces and algebra over a field, algebras also form groups.


Integers

The group of integers \Z under addition, denoted \left(\Z,+\right), has been described above. The integers, with the operation of multiplication instead of addition, \left(\Z,\cdot\right) do ''not'' form a group. The associativity and identity axioms are satisfied, but inverses do not exist: for example, a=2 is an integer, but the only solution to the equation a\cdot b=1 in this case is b=\tfrac, which is a rational number, but not an integer. Hence not every element of \Z has a (multiplicative) inverse.


Rationals

The desire for the existence of multiplicative inverses suggests considering fraction (mathematics), fractions \frac. Fractions of integers (with b nonzero) are known as rational numbers. The set of all such irreducible fractions is commonly denoted \Q. There is still a minor obstacle for \left(\Q,\cdot\right), the rationals with multiplication, being a group: because zero does not have a multiplicative inverse (i.e., there is no x such that x\cdot 0=1), \left(\Q,\cdot\right) is still not a group. However, the set of all ''nonzero'' rational numbers \Q\smallsetminus\left\=\left\ does form an abelian group under multiplication, also denoted Associativity and identity element axioms follow from the properties of integers. The closure requirement still holds true after removing zero, because the product of two nonzero rationals is never zero. Finally, the inverse of a/b is b/a, therefore the axiom of the inverse element is satisfied. The rational numbers (including zero) also form a group under addition. Intertwining addition and multiplication operations yields more complicated structures called ring (mathematics), rings and – if division by other than zero is possible, such as in \Q – field (mathematics), fields, which occupy a central position in abstract algebra. Group theoretic arguments therefore underlie parts of the theory of those entities.


Modular arithmetic

Modular arithmetic for a ''modulus'' n defines any two elements a and b that differ by a multiple of n to be equivalent, denoted by a \equiv b\pmod. Every integer is equivalent to one of the integers from 0 to n-1, and the operations of modular arithmetic modify normal arithmetic by replacing the result of any operation by its equivalent representative (mathematics), representative. Modular addition, defined in this way for the integers from 0 to n-1, forms a group, denoted as \mathrm_n or (\Z/n\Z,+), with 0 as the identity element and n-a as the inverse element of a. A familiar example is addition of hours on the face of a 12-hour clock, clock, where 12 rather than 0 is chosen as the representative of the identity. If the hour hand is on 9 and is advanced 4 hours, it ends up on 1, as shown in the illustration. This is expressed by saying that 9+4 is congruent to 1 "modulo 12" or, in symbols, 9+4\equiv 1 \pmod. For any prime number p, there is also the multiplicative group of integers modulo n, multiplicative group of integers modulo p. Its elements can be represented by 1 to p-1. The group operation, multiplication modulo p, replaces the usual product by its representative, the remainder of division by p. For example, for p=5, the four group elements can be represented by 1,2,3,4. In this group, 4\cdot 4\equiv 1\bmod 5, because the usual product 16 is equivalent to 1: when divided by 5 it yields a remainder of 1. The primality of p ensures that the usual product of two representatives is not divisible by p, and therefore that the modular product is nonzero. The identity element is represented and associativity follows from the corresponding property of the integers. Finally, the inverse element axiom requires that given an integer a not divisible by p, there exists an integer b such that a\cdot b\equiv 1\pmod, that is, such that p evenly divides a\cdot b-1. The inverse b can be found by using Bézout's identity and the fact that the greatest common divisor \gcd(a,p) In the case p=5 above, the inverse of the element represented by 4 is that represented by 4, and the inverse of the element represented by 3 is represented , as 3\cdot 2=6\equiv 1\bmod. Hence all group axioms are fulfilled. This example is similar to \left(\Q\smallsetminus\left\,\cdot\right) above: it consists of exactly those elements in the ring \Z/p\Z that have a multiplicative inverse. These groups, denoted \mathbb F_p^\times, are crucial to public-key cryptography.


Cyclic groups

A ''cyclic group'' is a group all of whose elements are power (mathematics), powers of a particular element a. In multiplicative notation, the elements of the group are \dots, a^, a^, a^, a^0, a, a^2, a^3, \dots, where a^2 means a\cdot a, a^ stands for a^\cdot a^\cdot a^=(a\cdot a\cdot a)^, etc. Such an element a is called a generator or a Primitive root modulo n, primitive element of the group. In additive notation, the requirement for an element to be primitive is that each element of the group can be written as \dots, (-a)+(-a), -a, 0, a, a+a, \dots. In the groups (\Z/n\Z,+) introduced above, the element 1 is primitive, so these groups are cyclic. Indeed, each element is expressible as a sum all of whose terms are 1. Any cyclic group with n elements is isomorphic to this group. A second example for cyclic groups is the group of nth root of unity, complex roots of unity, given by complex numbers z satisfying z^n=1. These numbers can be visualized as the vertices on a regular n-gon, as shown in blue in the image for n=6. The group operation is multiplication of complex numbers. In the picture, multiplying with z corresponds to a clockwise, counter-clockwise rotation by 60°. From field theory (mathematics), field theory, the group \mathbb F_p^\times is cyclic for prime p: for example, if p=5, 3 is a generator since 3^1=3, 3^2=9\equiv 4, 3^3\equiv 2, and 3^4\equiv 1. Some cyclic groups have an infinite number of elements. In these groups, for every non-zero element a, all the powers of a are distinct; despite the name "cyclic group", the powers of the elements do not cycle. An infinite cyclic group is isomorphic to (\Z, +), the group of integers under addition introduced above. As these two prototypes are both abelian, so are all cyclic groups. The study of finitely generated abelian groups is quite mature, including the fundamental theorem of finitely generated abelian groups; and reflecting this state of affairs, many group-related notions, such as Center (group theory), center and commutator, describe the extent to which a given group is not abelian.


Symmetry groups

''Symmetry groups'' are groups consisting of symmetries of given mathematical objects, principally geometric entities, such as the symmetry group of the square given as an introductory example above, although they also arise in algebra such as the symmetries among the roots of
polynomial equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
s dealt with in Galois theory (see below). Conceptually, group theory can be thought of as the study of symmetry. Symmetry in mathematics, Symmetries in mathematics greatly simplify the study of geometry, geometrical or analysis, analytical objects. A group is said to Group action (mathematics), act on another mathematical object ''X'' if every group element can be associated to some operation on ''X'' and the composition of these operations follows the group law. For example, an element of the (2,3,7) triangle group acts on a triangular Tessellation, tiling of the hyperbolic plane by permuting the triangles. By a group action, the group pattern is connected to the structure of the object being acted on. In chemical fields, such as crystallography, space groups and point groups describe molecular symmetry, molecular symmetries and crystal symmetries. These symmetries underlie the chemical and physical behavior of these systems, and group theory enables simplification of quantum mechanics, quantum mechanical analysis of these properties. For example, group theory is used to show that optical transitions between certain quantum levels cannot occur simply because of the symmetry of the states involved. Not only are groups useful to assess the implications of symmetries in molecules, but surprisingly they also predict that molecules sometimes can change symmetry. The Jahn–Teller effect is a distortion of a molecule of high symmetry when it adopts a particular ground state of lower symmetry from a set of possible ground states that are related to each other by the symmetry operations of the molecule. Likewise, group theory helps predict the changes in physical properties that occur when a material undergoes a phase transition, for example, from a cubic to a tetrahedral crystalline form. An example is ferroelectric materials, where the change from a paraelectric to a ferroelectric state occurs at the Curie temperature and is related to a change from the high-symmetry paraelectric state to the lower symmetry ferroelectric state, accompanied by a so-called soft phonon mode, a vibrational lattice mode that goes to zero frequency at the transition. Such spontaneous symmetry breaking has found further application in elementary particle physics, where its occurrence is related to the appearance of Goldstone bosons. Finite symmetry groups such as the Mathieu groups are used in coding theory, which is in turn applied in forward error correction, error correction of transmitted data, and in CD players. Another application is differential Galois theory, which characterizes functions having antiderivatives of a prescribed form, giving group-theoretic criteria for when solutions of certain differential equations are well-behaved. Geometric properties that remain stable under group actions are investigated in geometric invariant theory, (geometric) invariant theory.


General linear group and representation theory

Matrix groups consist of Matrix (mathematics), matrices together with matrix multiplication. The ''general linear group'' \mathrm (n, \R) consists of all invertible matrix, invertible n-by-n matrices with real number, real entries. Its subgroups are referred to as ''matrix groups'' or ''linear groups''. The dihedral group example mentioned above can be viewed as a (very small) matrix group. Another important matrix group is the special orthogonal group \mathrm(n). It describes all possible rotations in n dimensions. Rotation matrix, Rotation matrices in this group are used in computer graphics. ''Representation theory'' is both an application of the group concept and important for a deeper understanding of groups. It studies the group by its Group action (mathematics), group actions on other spaces. A broad class of group representations are linear representations in which the group acts on a vector space, such as the three-dimensional Euclidean space \R^3. A representation of a group G on an n-dimensional real vector space is simply a group homomorphism \rho : G \to \mathrm (n, \R) from the group to the general linear group. This way, the group operation, which may be abstractly given, translates to the multiplication of matrices making it accessible to explicit computations. A group action gives further means to study the object being acted on. On the other hand, it also yields information about the group. Group representations are an organizing principle in the theory of finite groups, Lie groups,
algebraic group In algebraic geometry, an algebraic group (or group variety) is a Group (mathematics), group that is an algebraic variety, such that the multiplication and inversion operations are given by regular map (algebraic geometry), regular maps on the varie ...
s and topological groups, especially (locally) compact groups.


Galois groups

''Galois groups'' were developed to help solve
polynomial equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
s by capturing their symmetry features. For example, the solutions of the quadratic equation ax^2+bx+c=0 are given by x = \frac. Each solution can be obtained by replacing the \pm sign by + or -; analogous formulae are known for cubic equation, cubic and quartic equations, but do ''not'' exist in general for quintic equation, degree 5 and higher. In the quadratic formula, changing the sign (permuting the resulting two solutions) can be viewed as a (very simple) group operation. Analogous Galois groups act on the solutions of higher-degree polynomials and are closely related to the existence of formulas for their solution. Abstract properties of these groups (in particular their solvable group, solvability) give a criterion for the ability to express the solutions of these polynomials using solely addition, multiplication, and Nth root, roots similar to the formula above. Modern Galois theory generalizes the above type of Galois groups by shifting to field theory (mathematics), field theory and considering field extensions formed as the splitting field of a polynomial. This theory establishes—via the fundamental theorem of Galois theory—a precise relationship between fields and groups, underlining once again the ubiquity of groups in mathematics.


Finite groups

A group is called ''finite'' if it has a finite set, finite number of elements. The number of elements is called the order of a group, order of the group. An important class is the ''symmetric groups'' \mathrm_N, the groups of
permutation In , a permutation of a is, loosely speaking, an arrangement of its members into a or , or if the set is already ordered, a rearrangement of its elements. The word "permutation" also refers to the act or process of changing the linear order o ...

permutation
s of N objects. For example, the dihedral group of order 6, symmetric group on 3 letters \mathrm_3 is the group of all possible reorderings of the objects. The three letters ABC can be reordered into ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, CBA, forming in total 6 (factorial of 3) elements. The group operation is composition of these reorderings, and the identity element is the reordering operation that leaves the order unchanged. This class is fundamental insofar as any finite group can be expressed as a subgroup of a symmetric group \mathrm_N for a suitable integer N, according to Cayley's theorem. Parallel to the group of symmetries of the square above, \mathrm_3 can also be interpreted as the group of symmetries of an equilateral triangle. The order of an element a in a group G is the least positive integer n such that a^n=e, where a^n represents \underbrace_, that is, application of the operation "\cdot" to n copies of a. (If "\cdot" represents multiplication, then a^n corresponds to the nth power of a.) In infinite groups, such an n may not exist, in which case the order of a is said to be infinity. The order of an element equals the order of the cyclic subgroup generated by this element. More sophisticated counting techniques, for example, counting cosets, yield more precise statements about finite groups: Lagrange's theorem (group theory), Lagrange's Theorem states that for a finite group G the order of any finite subgroup H divisor, divides the order of G. The Sylow theorems give a partial converse. The
dihedral group In mathematics, a dihedral group is the group (mathematics), group of symmetry, symmetries of a regular polygon, which includes rotational symmetry, rotations and reflection symmetry, reflections. Dihedral groups are among the simplest example ...
\mathrm_4 of symmetries of a square is a finite group of order 8. In this group, the order of r_1 is 4, as is the order of the subgroup R that this element generates. The order of the reflection elements f_ etc. is 2. Both orders divide 8, as predicted by Lagrange's theorem. The groups \mathbb F_p^\times of multiplication modulo a prime p have order p-1.


Classification of finite simple groups

Mathematicians often strive for a complete classification theorems, classification (or list) of a mathematical notion. In the context of finite groups, this aim leads to difficult mathematics. According to Lagrange's theorem, finite groups of order p, a prime number, are necessarily cyclic groups \mathrm_p and hence also abelian. Groups of order p^2 can also be shown to be abelian, a statement which does not generalize to order p^3, as the non-abelian group \mathrm_4 of order 8=2^3 above shows.. See also for similar results. Computer algebra systems can be used to List of small groups, list small groups, but there is no classification of all finite groups. An intermediate step is the classification of finite simple groups. A nontrivial group is called ''simple group, simple'' if its only normal subgroups are the trivial group and the group itself. The Jordan–Hölder theorem exhibits finite simple groups as the building blocks for all finite groups. List of finite simple groups, Listing all finite simple groups was a major achievement in contemporary group theory. 1998 Fields Medal winner Richard Borcherds succeeded in proving the monstrous moonshine conjectures, a surprising and deep relation between the largest finite simple sporadic group (the "monster group") and certain modular functions, a piece of classical complex analysis, and string theory, a theory supposed to unify the description of many physical phenomena.


Groups with additional structure

An equivalent definition of group consists of replacing the "there exist" part of the group axioms by operations whose result is the element that must exist. So, a group is a set G equipped with a
binary operation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
G \times G \rightarrow G (the group operation), a unary operation G \rightarrow G (which provides the inverse) and a nullary operation, which has no operand and results in the identity element. Otherwise, the group axioms are exactly the same. This variant of the definition avoids existential quantifiers and is used in computational group theory, computing with groups and for computer-aided proofs. This way of defining groups lends itself to generalizations such as the notion of a group objects in a category (mathematics), category. Briefly this is an object (that is, examples of another mathematical structure) which comes with transformations (called morphisms) that mimic the group axioms.


Topological groups

Some topological spaces may be endowed with a group law. In order for the group law and the topology to interweave well, the group operations must be continuous functions; informally, g \cdot h and g^ must not vary wildly if g and h vary only a little. Such groups are called ''topological groups,'' and they are the group objects in the category of topological spaces. The most basic examples are the group of real numbers under addition and the group of nonzero real numbers under multiplication. Similar examples can be formed from any other topological field, such as the field of complex numbers or the field of p-adic number, -adic numbers. These examples are locally compact topological group, locally compact, so they have Haar measures and can be studied via harmonic analysis. Other locally compact topological groups include the group of points of an algebraic group over a local field or adele ring; these are basic to number theory Galois groups of infinite algebraic field extensions are equipped with the Krull topology, which plays a role in Fundamental theorem of Galois theory#Infinite case, infinite Galois theory. A generalization used in algebraic geometry is the étale fundamental group.


Lie groups

A ''Lie group'' is a group that also has the structure of a differentiable manifold; informally, this means that it diffeomorphism, looks locally like a Euclidean space of some fixed dimension. Again, the definition requires the additional structure, here the manifold structure, to be compatible: the multiplication and inverse maps are required to be smooth map, smooth. A standard example is the general linear group introduced above: it is an open subset of the space of all n-by-n matrices, because it is given by the inequality \det (A) \ne 0, where A denotes an n-by-n matrix. Lie groups are of fundamental importance in modern physics: Noether's theorem links continuous symmetries to conserved quantities. Rotation, as well as translations in space and time are basic symmetries of the laws of mechanics. They can, for instance, be used to construct simple models—imposing, say, axial symmetry on a situation will typically lead to significant simplification in the equations one needs to solve to provide a physical description. Another example is the group of Lorentz transformations, which relate measurements of time and velocity of two observers in motion relative to each other. They can be deduced in a purely group-theoretical way, by expressing the transformations as a rotational symmetry of Minkowski space. The latter serves—in the absence of significant gravitation—as a model of
spacetime In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model which fuses the three-dimensional space, three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. Minkowski diagram, Spacetime diagrams can be used to visuali ...
in
special relativity In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force ...
. The full symmetry group of Minkowski space, i.e., including translations, is known as the
Poincaré group The Poincaré group, named after Henri Poincaré Jules Henri Poincaré ( S: stress final syllable ; 29 April 1854 – 17 July 1912) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to ...
. By the above, it plays a pivotal role in special relativity and, by implication, for quantum field theories. Local symmetry, Symmetries that vary with location are central to the modern description of physical interactions with the help of gauge theory. An important example of a gauge theory is the
Standard Model The Standard Model of particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsi ...

Standard Model
, which describes three of the four known fundamental forces and classifies all known elementary particles.


Generalizations

In abstract algebra, more general structures are defined by relaxing some of the axioms defining a group. For example, if the requirement that every element has an inverse is eliminated, the resulting algebraic structure is called a monoid. The natural numbers \mathbb N (including zero) under addition form a monoid, as do the nonzero integers under multiplication (\Z \smallsetminus \, \cdot), see above. There is a general method to formally add inverses to elements to any (abelian) monoid, much the same way as (\Q \smallsetminus \, \cdot) is derived from (\Z \smallsetminus \, \cdot), known as the Grothendieck group. Groupoids are similar to groups except that the composition a\cdot b need not be defined for all a and b. They arise in the study of more complicated forms of symmetry, often in topology, topological and mathematical analysis, analytical structures, such as the fundamental groupoid or stack (mathematics), stacks. Finally, it is possible to generalize any of these concepts by replacing the binary operation with an arbitrary arity, -ary one (i.e., an operation taking arguments). With the proper generalization of the group axioms this gives rise to an n-ary group, -ary group. The table gives a list of several structures generalizing groups.


See also

* List of group theory topics


Notes


Citations


References


General references

* , Chapter 2 contains an undergraduate-level exposition of the notions covered in this article. * * , an elementary introduction. * . * . * * . * . * . * .


Special references

* . * . * * * . * . * . * . * . * * . * . * . * . * . * * . * . * * . * * . * * . * . * . * . * . * . * * * . * * . * . * * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * * * * * . * . * * . * . * . *


Historical references

* * . * * . * . * (Galois work was first published by Joseph Liouville in 1843). * . * . * . * * . * . * .


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Group (Mathematics) Algebraic structures Group theory, * Symmetry