transposition (mathematics)


In mathematics, and in particular in group theory, a cyclic permutation (or cycle) is a permutation of the elements of some set (mathematics), set ''X'' which maps the elements of some subset ''S'' of ''X'' to each other in a cyclic fashion, while fixing (that is, mapping to themselves) all other elements of ''X''. If ''S'' has ''k'' elements, the cycle is called a ''k''-cycle. Cycles are often denoted by the list of their elements enclosed with parentheses, in the order to which they are permuted. For example, given ''X'' = , the permutation (1, 3, 2, 4) that sends 1 to 3, 3 to 2, 2 to 4 and 4 to 1 (so ''S'' = ''X'') is a 4-cycle, and the permutation (1, 3, 2) that sends 1 to 3, 3 to 2, 2 to 1 and 4 to 4 (so ''S'' = and 4 is a fixed element) is a 3-cycle. On the other hand, the permutation that sends 1 to 3, 3 to 1, 2 to 4 and 4 to 2 is not a cyclic permutation because it separately permutes the pairs and . The set ''S'' is called the orbit (group theory), orbit of the cycle. Every permutation on finitely many elements can be decomposed into cycles on disjoint orbits. The cyclic parts of a permutation are Cycles and fixed points, cycles, thus the second example is composed of a 3-cycle and a 1-cycle (or ''fixed point'') and the third is composed of two 2-cycles, and denoted (1, 3) (2, 4).


image:050712_perm_3.png, upright=1.7, Diagram of a cyclic permutation with two fixed points; a 6-cycle and two 1-cycles. , 190x190px A permutation is called a cyclic permutation if and only if it has a single nontrivial cycle (a cycle of length > 1). For example, the permutation, written in Permutation#Two-line notation, two-line notation (in two ways) and also cycle notations, : \begin 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 \\ 4 & 2 & 7 & 6 & 5 & 8 & 1 & 3 \end = \begin 1 & 4 & 6 & 8 & 3 & 7 & 2 & 5 \\ 4 & 6 & 8 & 3 & 7 & 1 & 2 & 5 \end = (1\ 4\ 6\ 8\ 3\ 7)(2)(5), is a six-cycle; its cycle diagram is shown at right. Some authors restrict the definition to only those permutations which consist of one nontrivial cycle (that is, no fixed points allowed). image:050712_perm_2.png, A cyclic permutation with no trivial cycles; an 8-cycle., thumb For example, the permutation : \begin 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 \\ 4 & 5 & 7 & 6 & 8 & 2 & 1 & 3 \end = \begin 1 & 4 & 6 & 2 & 5 & 8 & 3 & 7 \\ 4 & 6 & 2 & 5 & 8 & 3 & 7 & 1 \end = (1\ 4\ 6\ 2\ 5\ 8\ 3\ 7) is a cyclic permutation under this more restrictive definition, while the preceding example is not. More formally, a permutation \sigma of a set ''X'', viewed as a bijection, bijective function \sigma:X\to X, is called a cycle if the action on ''X'' of the subgroup generated by \sigma has at most one orbit with more than a single element. This notion is most commonly used when ''X'' is a finite set; then of course the largest orbit, ''S'', is also finite. Let s_0 be any element of ''S'', and put s_i=\sigma^i(s_0) for any i\in\mathbf. If ''S'' is finite, there is a minimal number k \geq 1 for which s_k=s_0. Then S=\, and \sigma is the permutation defined by :\sigma(s_i) = s_ for 0 ≤ ''i'' < ''k'' and \sigma(x)=x for any element of X\setminus S. The elements not fixed by \sigma can be pictured as :s_0\mapsto s_1\mapsto s_2\mapsto\cdots\mapsto s_\mapsto s_k=s_0. A cycle can be written using the compact cycle notation \sigma = (s_0~s_1~\dots~s_) (there are no commas between elements in this notation, to avoid confusion with a ''k''-tuple). The ''length'' of a cycle is the number of elements of its largest orbit. A cycle of length ''k'' is also called a ''k''-cycle. The orbit of a 1-cycle is called a ''fixed point'' of the permutation, but as a permutation every 1-cycle is the identity permutation. When cycle notation is used, the 1-cycles are often suppressed when no confusion will result.

Basic properties

One of the basic results on symmetric groups is that any permutation can be expressed as the product of Disjoint sets, disjoint cycles (more precisely: cycles with disjoint orbits); such cycles commute with each other, and the expression of the permutation is unique up to the order of the cycles. The multiset of lengths of the cycles in this expression (the cycle type) is therefore uniquely determined by the permutation, and both the signature and the conjugacy class of the permutation in the symmetric group are determined by it. The number of ''k''-cycles in the symmetric group ''S''''n'' is given, for 1\leq k\leq n, by the following equivalent formulas :\binom nk(k-1)!=\frac=\frac A ''k''-cycle has signature of a permutation, signature (−1)''k'' − 1. The inverse function, inverse of a cycle \sigma = (s_0~s_1~\dots~s_) is given by reversing the order of the entries: \sigma^ = (s_~\dots~s_1~s_). In particular, since (a ~ b) = (b ~ a), every two-cycle is its own inverse. Since disjoint cycles commute, the inverse of a product of disjoint cycles is the result of reversing each of the cycles separately.


A cycle with only two elements is called a transposition. For example, the permutation \pi = \begin 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 \\ 1 & 4 & 3 & 2 \end that swaps 2 and 4.


Any permutation can be expressed as the function composition, composition (product) of transpositions—formally, they are Generating set of a group, generators for the group (mathematics), group. In fact, when the set being permuted is for some integer , then any permutation can be expressed as a product of (1~2), (2~3), (3~4), and so on. This follows because an arbitrary transposition can be expressed as the product of adjacent transpositions. Concretely, one can express the transposition (k~~l) where k < l by moving to one step at a time, then moving back to where was, which interchanges these two and makes no other changes: :(k~~l) = (k~~k+1)\cdot(k+1~~k+2)\cdots(l-1~~l)\cdot(l-2~~l-1)\cdots(k~~k+1). The decomposition of a permutation into a product of transpositions is obtained for example by writing the permutation as a product of disjoint cycles, and then splitting iteratively each of the cycles of length 3 and longer into a product of a transposition and a cycle of length one less: :(a~b~c~d~\ldots~y~z) = (a~b)\cdot (b~c~d~\ldots~y~z). This means the initial request is to move a to b, b to c, y to z, and finally z to a. Instead one may roll the elements keeping a where it is by executing the right factor first (as usual in operator notation, and following the convention in the article on Permutation#Product and inverse, Permutations). This has moved z to the position of b, so after the first permutation, the elements a and z are not yet at their final positions. The transposition (a~b), executed thereafter, then addresses z by the index of b to swap what initially were a and z. In fact, the symmetric group is a Coxeter group, meaning that it is generated by elements of order 2 (the adjacent transpositions), and all relations are of a certain form. One of the main results on symmetric groups states that either all of the decompositions of a given permutation into transpositions have an even number of transpositions, or they all have an odd number of transpositions. This permits the parity of a permutation to be a well-defined concept.

See also

* Cycle sort – a sorting algorithm that is based on the idea that the permutation to be sorted can be factored into cycles, which can individually be rotated to give a sorted result * Cycles and fixed points * Cyclic permutation of integer * Cycle notation * Circular permutation in proteins




* Anderson, Marlow and Feil, Todd (2005), ''A First Course in Abstract Algebra'', Chapman & Hall/CRC; 2nd edition. . * * *

External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Cycle (Mathematics) Permutations