# Real representations

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1 Real representations 1 Definition of a real representation Definition 1.1. Let V R be a finite dimensional real vector space. A real representation of a group G is a homomorphism ρ VR : G Aut V R, where Aut V R denotes the R-linear isomorphisms from V R to itself. Homomorphisms and isomorphisms of real representations are defined in the obvious way. After a choice of basis, a real representation is equivalent to a homomorphism ρ: G GL(n, R), and two such homomorphisms ρ 1 and ρ 2 are isomorphic real representations they are conjugate in GL(n, R), i.e. there exists an A GL(n, R) such that ρ 2 (g) = Aρ 1 (g)a 1 for all g G. Because GL(n, R) is a subgroup of GL(n, C), every real representation V R defines a (complex) representation V. More abstractly, given a real vector space V R, we define its complexification to be the tensor product V = V R R C. Concretely, think of R n being enlarged to C n. For any real vector space V R, if v 1,..., v n is a basis for V R, then by definition V R is the set of all linear combinations of the v i with real coefficients, and V is the set of all linear combinations of the v i with complex coefficients. In particular, v 1,..., v n is a basis for the complex vector space V. Conversely, given a (complex) vector space V and a basis v 1,..., v n of V, we can define a vector subspace V R of V by taking the set of all linear combinations of the v i with real coefficients, and V is then the complexification of V R. We have an inclusion Aut V R Aut V, which can be summarized by the commutative diagram Aut V R Aut V = = GL(n, R) GL(n, C), where the vertical isomorphisms correspond to the choice of basis v 1,..., v n. However, the top horizontal inclusion is canonical, i.e. does not depend on the choice of basis. 1

2 Definition 1.2. A representation ρ V : G Aut V can be defined over R if there exists a real vector space V R and a real representation ρ VR : G Aut V R such that V is the complexification of V R and ρ V is the image of ρ VR via the inclusion Aut V R Aut V. Equivalently, there exists a basis of V such that, for every g G, the matrices ρ V (g) have real entries. Remark 1.3. (1) We can make the same definition for any subfield K of C, for example for K = Q. (2) Every complex vector space V of dimension n is also a real vector space of dimension 2n, by only allowing scalar multiplication by real numbers. To see the statement about the dimensions, if v 1,..., v n is a basis of V as a complex vector space, then it is easy to check that v 1, iv 1, v 2, iv 2,..., v n, iv n is a basis of V viewed as a real vector space. Since every complex linear isomorphism is automatically real liner, there is a homomorphism GL(n, C) GL(2n, R) which is a little messy to write down in general. For n = 1, it corresponds ( ) a b to the homomorphism ϕ: C GL(2, R) defined by ϕ(a + bi) =. b a The following gives a necessary condition for a representation of a finite group to be defined over R: Lemma 1.4. If ρ V can be defined over R, then, for all g G, χ V (g) R. More generally, if K is a subfield of C and ρ V can be defined over K, then, for all g G, χ V (g) K. Proof. This is clear since the trace of an n n matrix with entries in K is an element of K. As we shall see, the necessary condition above is not in general sufficient. 2 When is an irreducible representation defined over R We begin by analyzing the condition that χ V (g) R for all g G, and shall only consider the case of an irreducible representation in what follows. Lemma 2.1. If V is a G-representation of the finite group G, then χ V (g) R for all g G V = V. If moreover V is irreducible and V = V, then there exists a nonzero ϕ Hom G (V, V ) and it is unique up to a nonzero scalar, i.e. dim Hom G (V, V ) = 1. 2

3 Proof. Since χ V = χ V, we see that χ V (g) R for all g G χ V = χ V χ V = χ V V = V. The remaining statement then follows from Schur s lemma. We define Bil(V ) to be the set of bilinear functions F : V V C. General results about tensor products tell us that Bil(V ) = (V V ) = V V = Hom(V, V ). However, we will explicitly construct the isomorphism Bil(V ) = Hom(V, V ): Lemma 2.2. The map A: Bil(V ) Hom(V, V ) defined by A(F )(v)(w) = F (v, w) is an isomorphism of vector spaces. If V is a G-representation and we define ρ Bil(V ) (g)(f )(v, w) = F (ρ V (g) 1 (v), ρ V (g) 1 (w)), then A is a G-isomorphism, where as usual, given ϕ Hom(V, V ), ρ Hom(V,V )(g)(ϕ)(v)(w) = ϕ(ρ V (g) 1 v)(ρ V (g) 1 (w). Proof. If we define A(F ) as in the statement, then it is easy to see that A(F )(v) is linear in w and that v A(F )(v) is linear in v, so that A(F ) Hom(V, V ). Also, a short computation shows that A(F 1 + F 2 ) = A(F 1 ) + A(F 2 ) and that A(tF ) = ta(f ), so A is a linear map of vector spaces. To show that A is an isomorphism, we define an inverse function: let B : Hom(V, V ) Bil(V ) be defined by B(ϕ)(v, w) = ϕ(v)(w). Again, an easy calculation shows that B A = Id, A B = Id. Finally, if V is a G-representation, then A(ρ Bil(V ) (g)(f ))(v)(w) = ρ Bil(V ) (g)(f )(v, w) = F (ρ V (g) 1 (v), ρ V (g) 1 (w)) = ρ Hom(V,V )(g)(a(f ))(v)(w), so that A is a G-morphism and hence a G-isomorphism. Corollary 2.3. If V is an irreducible G-representation, then dim(bil(v ) G ) is 0 if V is not isomorphic to V and 1 if V = V. To analyze Bil(V ) further, we make the following definition: 3

4 Definition 2.4. Let F Bil(V ). Then F is symmetric if F (v, w) = F (w, v) for all v, w V, and F is antisymmetric if F (v, w) = F (w, v) for all v, w V. Let Sym 2 V be the set of all symmetric F Bil(V ) and let 2 V denote the set of all antisymmetric F Bil(V ). Clearly both Sym 2 V and 2 V are vector subspaces of Bil(V ). If V is a G-representation, so that Bil(V ) is also a G-representation, then from the definition of ρ Bil(V ) it is easy to see that Sym 2 V and 2 V are G-invariant subspaces of Bil(V ). Lemma 2.5. Bil(V ) = Sym 2 V 2 V. If V is a G-representation, then the above is a direct sum of G-invariant subspaces. Proof. Define π 1 : Bil(V ) Sym 2 V and π 2 : Bil(V ) 2 V by: π 1 (F )(v, w) = 1 (F (v, w) + F (w, v)); 2 π 2 (F )(v, w) = 1 (F (v, w) F (w, v)). 2 Then clearly π 1 (F ) = F F Sym 2 V, π 1 (F ) = 0 F 2 V, and similarly π 2 (F ) = 0 F Sym 2 V, π 1 (F ) = F F 2 V. Also π 1 + π 2 = Id. It then follows that Bil(V ) = Sym 2 V 2 V. The last statement is then a general fact. Corollary 2.6. Let V be an irreducible representation. If V and V are not isomorphic, then Bil(V ) G = 0. If V and V are isomorphic, then either dim(sym 2 V ) G = 1 and 2 V = 0 or dim( 2 V ) G = 1 and Sym 2 V = 0. We can now state the main result concerning real representations: Theorem 2.7. Let V be an irreducible G-representation. (i) V and V are not isomorphic Bil(V ) G = 0. (ii) V = V and V is defined over R dim(sym 2 V ) G = 1 and 2 V = 0. (iii) V = V and V is not defined over R dim( 2 V ) G = 1 and Sym 2 V = 0. Moreover, in this case dim V is even. Proof. We have already seen (i). Also (ii) = (iii), except for the last statement about the dimension, since (iii) is just the equivalence of the negations of the two statements of (ii). So we must prove (ii). 4

5 = : Suppose that V is defined over R. In other words, there exists a basis v 1,..., v n of V such that the matrix of ρ V with respect to this basis has real entries. Let V R be the real span of the v i : { n } V R = t i v i : t i R. i=1 Thus V R is a real vector subspace of V and ρ V comes from a real representation ρ VR of G on V R, i.e. ρ V is defined over R. There exists a positive definite inner product (i.e. a symmetric R-bilinear function) on V R, for example we could define n n n s i v i, t i v i = s i t i. i=1 i=1 This inner product is not G-invariant, but we can make it G-invariant by averaging over G: define F R (v, w) = 1 #(G) i=1 ρ VR (v), ρ VR (w). g G Then F R is symmetric and it is positive definite, because it is a sum of positive definite inner products. In particular F R 0. Note that F R is specified by its values F R (v i, v j ) and the G-invariance of F R is equivalent to the statement that, for all i, j and all g G, F R (ρ VR (v i ), ρ VR (v j )) = F R (v i, v j ). Now we can extend F R to a C-bilinear function F on V, by defining F (v, w) = i,j s i t j F R (v i, v j ), where v = i s iv i and w = i t iw i. In particular, if v, w V R, then F (v, w) = F R (v, w) so that F 0. Moreover F is symmetric because F R is symmetric, and hence F R (v i, v j ) = F R (v j, v i ). Finally, one checks that F is G-invariant, which is equivalent to the statement that F (ρ VR (v i ), ρ VR (v j )) = F (v i, v j ) and thus follows from the corresponding statement for F R. Thus F is a nonzero element of Sym 2 V ) G. It follows that dim(sym 2 V ) G = 1 and 2 V = 0. = : We must use the existence of a nonzero F Sym 2 V ) G to show that V is defined over R. We begin with a digression on complex structures. Let V R be a real vector space with complexification V. We can think of this 5

6 as follows: there exists a basis v 1,..., v n of V such that V R is the real span of v 1,..., v n. Thus v 1, iv 1, v 2, iv 2,..., v n, iv n is a real basis of V and every v V can be uniquely written as w + iu, where w, u V R. In other words, as real vector spaces, V = V R iv R. Now we can define conjugation γ on V : γ(w + iu) = w iu. Thus γ is R-linear with γ 2 = Id and +1-eigenspace V R and 1-eigenspace iv R.. In terms of the basis v 1,..., v n, if v = i t iv i is a vector in V, then γ( i t i v i ) = i t i v i. Then γ is conjugate linear: γ(tv) = tγ(v). Finally, if A End V satisfies A(V R ) V R, i.e. the matrix of A with respect to the basis v 1,..., v n has real entries, then A commutes with γ since it preserves two eigenspaces, and conversely, if A commutes with γ, then A(V R ) V R and hence the matrix of A with respect to the basis v 1,..., v n has real entries. Conversely, suppose that V is a complex vector space and that γ : V V is conjugate linear and hence R-linear, and that γ 2 = Id. Then γ is diagonalizable over R, i.e. V = V + V, where V ± are real vector subspaces of V, γ V + = Id and γ V = Id. In fact, we can define V + to be the +1-eigenspace of γ and V to be the 1-eigenspace. Then setting π + (v) = 1 (v + γ(v)) 2 π (v) = 1 (v γ(v)), 2 it is easy to check that Im π ± = V ±, Ker π ± = V, and π + + π = Id, giving the direct sum decomposition. Moreover v V + γ(v) = v γ(iv) = iv iv V. Thus multiplication by i defines an isomorphism from V + to V. It follows that an R-basis for V + is a C-basis for V, and that V is the complexification of V +. Finally, if A End V is complex linear and A commutes with γ, then A(V + ) V +. Hence A has real coefficients with respect to any basis of V which is a real basis of V +. In particular, if ρ V : G Aut V is a homomorphism and γ commutes with ρ V (g) for every g G, then ρ V defines a real representation on V + and ρ V is the complexification of this representation. 6

7 Returning to our situation, we have a nonzero symmetric G-invariant F Sym 2 V, corresponding to a G-invariant homomorphism ϕ: V V, necessarily an isomorphism by Schur s lemma. Here F (v, w) = ϕ(v)(w), so the symmetry condition is the statement that, for all v, w V, ϕ(v)(w) = ϕ(w)(v). There exists a positive definite Hermitian inner product on V, so after averaging there exists a G-invariant positive definite Hermitian inner product H(v, w) on V. Such an H defines an R-linear function ψ : V V by the rule ψ(v)(w) = H(w, v). Note that we have to switch the order to make ψ(v) is linear in w. However, ψ is conjugate linear in v. It is easy to see that ψ is an isomorphism: since V and V have the same dimension as real vector spaces, it suffices to show that ψ is injective, i.e. that ψ(v) is not the zero element in V for v 0. This follows since ψ(v)(v) = H(v, v) > 0. Define α: V V by α = ψ 1 ϕ. Then α is conjugate linear since it is a composition of a complex linear and a conjugate linear map, and α is an isomorphism of real vector spaces. Finally, α is G-invariant since ψ and ϕ are G-invariant. Consider α 2 : V V, which is complex linear as it is the composition of two conjugate linear maps. It is also a G-invariant isomorphism since it is the composition of two such. Thus, by Schur s lemma, α 2 = λ Id for some nonzero complex number λ. Claim 2.8. λ is a positive real number. Proof. By the definition of ψ, ψ(v)(w) = H(w, v) for all v, w V. Thus, for all f V, f(w) = H(w, ψ 1 (f)). If in addition f = ϕ(v), this says that F (v, w) = ϕ(v)(w) = H(w, ψ 1 ϕ(v)) = H(w, α(v)). Replacing w by α(w) and using the symmetry of F gives H(α(w), α(v)) = F (v, α(w)) = F (α(w), v) = H(v, α 2 (w)) = H(v, λw). Now choose v = w, v 0. We get H(α(v), α(v)) = H(v, λv) = λh(v, v). 7

8 Since both H(α(v), α(v)) and H(v, v) are real and positive, it follows that λ is real and positive, and thus the same is true for λ = λ. Returning to the proof of Theorem 2.7, define γ = λ 1/2 α. Then γ is a conjugate linear isomorphism and γ 2 = Id. Finally, γ commutes with the G-action, and so as in the above discussion on real structures, γ defines a realstructure on V for which ρ V is a real representation. Thus we have proved all of the statements in Theorem 2.7 except for the fact that, in case (iii), dim V is even. This is a general linear algebra fact about vector spaces for which there exists an F 2 V such that the corresponding map V V is an isomorphism. 3 A computational characterization We would like a computational method for deciding when a representation can be defined over R. First, a definition: Definition 3.1. Let f be a class function on G. ψ 2 (f) by ψ 2 (f)(g) = f(g 2 ). Then ψ 2 (f) is also a class function, since Define a new function ψ 2 (f)(xgx 1 ) = f((xgx 1 ) 2 ) = f(xg 2 x 1 ) = f(g 2 ) = ψ 2 (f)(g). (One can define ψ n (f) similarly for every n Z.) In particular, for a character χ V ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1 #(G) of G, we can consider the expression χ V (g 2 ). g G Theorem 3.2. Let V be an irreducible G-representation. (i) V and V are not isomorphic ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 0. (ii) V = V and V is defined over R ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1. (iii) V = V and V is not defined over R ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1. Proof. By Theorem 2.7, we have the following: (i) V and V are not isomorphic Hom G (V, V ) = Bil G (V ) = 0 χ Bil G (V ), 1 = 0. 8

9 (ii) V = V and V is defined over R dim(sym 2 V ) = 1 and 2 V = 0 χ Sym 2 V, 1 = 1 and χ 2 V, 1 = 0. (iii) V = V and V is not defined over R dim( 2 V ) = 1 and Sym 2 V = 0 χ 2 V, 1 = 1 and χ Sym 2 V, 1 = 0. So we must compute these characters. In fact, we claim: (i) χ Bil G (V ) = χ Hom G (V,V ) = χ2 V. (ii) χ Sym 2 V = 1 2 (χ2 V + ψ 2(χ V )). (iii) χ 2 V = 1 2 (χ2 V ψ 2(χ V )). Assuming this, we have dim(sym 2 V ) = χ Sym 2 V, 1 = 1 2 ( χ2 V, 1 + ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 ); dim( 2 V ) = χ 2 V, 1 = 1 2 ( χ2 V, 1 ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 ). Then ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 0 dim(sym 2 V ) = dim( 2 V ), which happens exactly when Hom G (V, V ) = 0, since otherwise one of the dimensions is 0 and the other is 1. Since ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 is real in this case, ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = ψ 2 (χ V ), 1. A brief computation in the remaining cases shows that χ Sym 2 V, 1 = 1 and χ 2 V, 1 = 0 ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1, and χ 2 V, 1 = 1 and χ Sym 2 V, 1 = 0 ψ 2(χ V ), 1 = 1. As before, by taking conjugates, the first case happens ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1 and the second ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1. So we must prove the claim. For g G, the linear map ρ V (g) is diagonalizable. Let v 1,..., v n be a basis of V such that ρ V (v i ) = λ i v i and let vi be the dual basis. Then ρ V (g 2 ) is also diagonalized by the basis v 1,..., v n, with eigenvalues λ 2 i, and hence ψ 2 (χ V )(g) = χ V (g 2 ) = i λ 2 i. Let vi v j Hom(V, V ) be the linear map defined by vi v j (w) = v i (w)v j. Then vi v j, 1 i, j n is a basis for Hom(V, V ) and each vi v j is an 9

10 eigenvector for ρ Hom(V,V )(g) with eigenvalue λ 1 i as previously noted that χ Hom(V,V )(g) = i,j We can also write this as ( ) λ i λj = λ i i j λ 1 j = λ i λj. Thus we see λ j = (χ V (g)) 2. (χ V (g)) 2 = i λ 2 i + 2 i<j λ i λj. As for Sym 2 V, we can find a basis for it by symmetrizing the expressions vi v j to 1 2 (v i v j + v j v i ). This expression is unchanged by switching i and i, and the functions 1 2 (v i vj + vj vi ), i j are linearly independent. A similar argument shows that a basis for 2 V is given by 1 2 (v i v j v j v i ), i < j. Thus χ Sym 2 V (g) = i j λ i λj ; χ 2 V (g) = i<j λ i λj. Then 1 2 (χ2 V (g) + ψ 2 (χ V )(g)) = 1 λ 2 i + 2 λ i λj + 2 i i<j i = 1 2 λ 2 i + 2 λ i λj 2 i i<j λ 2 i = i j λ i λj = χ Sym 2 V (g). A similar calculation establishes the formula for χ 2 V (g). 10

11 Example 3.3. (1) Let G = D 4 and let V be the irreducible 2-dimensional representation of D 4. The elements of D 4 are α k, 0 k 3, and τα k, 0 k 3. Moreover, (α k ) 2 = 1 if k = 0, 2, (α k ) 2 = α 2 if k = 1, 3, and (τα k ) 2 = 1 for all k. Thus, in D 4, there are 6 elements whose square is 1 and 2 elements whose square is α 2. We know that χ V (1) = 2 and that χ V (α 2 ) = 2. Then ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1 ( ( 2)) = 1. 8 Thus the irreducible 2-dimensional representation of D 4 can be defined over R. Of course, we have seen this directly. (2) Let G = Q, the quaternion group, and let V be the irreducible 2- dimensional representation of Q. The elements of Q are ±1, ±i, ±j, ±k. Moreover, (1) 2 = ( 1) 2 = 1 and all other elements have square 1. Thus, in Q, there are 2 elements whose square is 1 and 6 elements whose square is 1. We know that χ V (1) = 2 and that χ V ( 1) = 2. Then ψ 2 (χ V ), 1 = 1 ( ( 2)) = 1. 8 Thus the irreducible 2-dimensional representation of Q cannot be defined over R. 4 Irreducible real representations In this section, we switch gears and look at things from the perspective of an irreducible real representation V R. We shall just state the main result (although its proof is not that difficult). Recall that, if V R is a real representation which is irreducible as a real representation, then Schur s lemma only says that Hom G (V R, V R ) is a division ring containing R in its center, and is a finite dimensional R-vector space since it is isomorphic to a vector subspace of M n (R) for n = dim V R. It is not hard to classify such division rings: Hom G (V R, V R ) is isomorphic to R, C, or H, the quaternions. We can then look at the complexification V of V R. Although V R is an irreducible real representation, V need not be irreducible. The possibilities are as follows: Theorem 4.1. Let V R be an irreducible real representation and let V be its complexification. (i) Hom G (V R, V R ) = R V is irreducible. 11

12 (ii) Hom G (V R, V R ) = C V = W W, where W and W are irreducible and W and W are not isomorphic. (iii) Hom G (V R, V R ) = H V = W W, where W is irreducible and W = W. 5 Real conjugacy classes One question related to our previous discussion is the following: given a representation V of G, when is χ V (g) R? Of course, if g is conjugate to g 1 then, for every representation V, χ V (g) = χ V (g 1 ) = χ V (g), and thus χ V (g) R for every V. We make the following preliminary observation: Lemma 5.1. Let x G, and suppose that y is conjugate to x. Then y 1 is conjugate to x 1. Hence, C(x) is the conjugacy class of x and if we define then C(x) 1 = C(x 1 ). C(x) 1 = {y 1 : y C(x)}, Proof. For the first statement, if y = gxg 1, then y 1 = (gxg 1 ) 1 = gx 1 g 1. Thus, if y C(x), then y 1 C(x 1 ) and so C(x) 1 C(x 1 ). Conversely, if z C(x 1 ), then z is conjugate to x 1 and hence y = z 1 is conjugate to (x 1 ) 1 = x. Then by definition z = y 1 C(x) 1, so that C(x 1 ) C(x) 1. Thus C(x) 1 = C(x 1 ). Definition 5.2. A conjugacy class C(x) is real if C(x) 1 = C(x), or equivalently if there exists a y C(x) such that y is conjugate to y 1. By the lemma, if there exists one such y, then y is conjugate to y 1 for every y C(x). Example 5.3. (1) Clearly, C(1) = {1} is a real conjugacy class. (2) If G is abelian, then C(x) = {x} for every x G. Thus C(x) is a real conjugacy class x = x 1 x has order 1 or 2. In particular, if G is an abelian group of odd order, then the only real conjugacy class is C(1). 12

13 (3) In S n, every element σ is conjugate to σ 1, and thus every conjugacy class is real. In fact, every element σ can be written as σ = γ 1 γ l, where each γ i is a cycle of some length n i > 1 and the γ i are pairwise disjoint. As disjoint cycles commute, σ 1 = (γ 1 γ l ) 1 = γ 1 l γ1 1 = γ1 1 γ 1 l. But each γi 1 is also a cycle of length n i, and it is easy to check that, in S n, two elements γ 1 γ l and δ 1 δ l, both products of disjoint cycles of the same lengths, are conjugate. (4) It is easy to check that the quaternion group Q also has the property that every element g is conjugate to g 1, and thus that every conjugacy class is real. As usual, enumerate the irreducible representations of G up to isomorphism as V 1,..., V h. We then have the following curious fact about real conjugacy classes: Theorem 5.4 (Burnside). The number of real conjugacy classes of G is equal to the number of i such that the irreducible representation V i is isomorphic to Vi, or equivalently such that χ V i (g) R for all g G. Proof. Enumerate the set of conjugacy classes of G as C(x 1 ),..., C(x h ). Note that this enumeration doesn t necessarily have anything to do with the enumeration V 1,..., V h of irreducible representations chosen above. As usual, we let Z L 2 (G) be the subspace of class functions. Then there are two natural bases for Z: the set of characteristic functions f C(xi ) and the set of characters χ Vi. We abbreviate f C(xi ) by f i. There are two permutations τ and σ of the index set {1,..., h}. We let τ(i) be the unique j such that C(x i ) 1 = C(x j ), and we let σ(i) be the unique j such that Vi = V j. The content of the theorem is then that the number of i such that τ(i) = i is equal to the number of i such that σ(i) = i. As permutations of the index set, both τ and σ define permutation matrices P τ, P σ GL(h, C) by the rule P τ (f i ) = f τ(i), and similarly P σ (f i ) = f σ(i). As with all permutation matrices, Tr P τ is the number of i such that τ(i) = i and Tr P σ is the number of i such that σ(i) = i. So we must show that Tr P τ = Tr P σ. It suffices to find an invertible h h matrix M such that P τ M = M P σ, for then P τ = MP σ M 1 and so the traces are equal. Let M = (χ Vj (x i )). Then M is the change of basis matrix for the two bases f 1,..., f h and χ V1,..., χ Vh, because Mf i = h χ Vi (x j )f j = j=1 13 h χ Vi (x j )f C(xj ), j=1

14 and by comparing the values of the above class function on every x j we see that Mf i = χ Vi. In particular, M is invertible. By definition, since P τ acts by permuting the f i according to τ, we see that P τ Mf i = On the other hand, = h χ Vi (x j )f τ(j) = j=1 h j=1 = χ V i. h j=1 χ Vi (x 1 j )f C(xj ) = χ Vi (x j )f C(x 1 j ) h j=1 MP σ f i = Mf σ(i) = χ Vσ(i) = χ V i. Thus P τ M = M P σ, concluding the proof. χ V i (x j )f C(xj ) The following is a purely group-theoretic argument: Proposition 5.5. The order #(G) is odd the only real conjugacy class is C(1) = {1}. Proof. Equivalently, we have to show that the order #(G) is even there exists a real conjugacy class C(x) with x 1. If #(G) is even, then an easy special case of Cauchy s theorem says that there exists an element x of order 2. Then x 1 and x = x 1, so that C(x) is a real conjugacy class and C(x) C(1). Conversely, suppose that there exists a real conjugacy class C(x) with x 1. If x = x 1, then x has order 2. By Lagrange s theorem, the order of any element of G divides the order of G, so #(G) is even in this case. Otherwise, x x 1 but there exists an h G such that hxh 1 = x 1. Then h 2 xh 2 = h(hxh 1 )h 1 = hx 1 h 1 = x, and by induction we see that { h a xh a x 1, if a is odd; = x, if a is even. Let N be the order of h. Then N must be even, since h N xh N = 1x1 = x and x x 1. But then N divides #(G), again by Lagrange s theorem, so that #(G) is divisible by an even number and hence is even. Corollary 5.6. The order #(G) is odd the only irreducible representation V i such that V i = V i, or equivalently such that χ Vi (g) R for all g G, is the trivial representation. 14

15 Proof. By the previous corollary, #(G) is odd there exists exactly one real conjugacy class there exists exactly one irreducible representation V of G up to isomorphism such that V = V. Since the trivial representation has this property, if there is only one such it must be the trivial representation. We then have the following purely group-theoretic fact: Proposition 5.7. If #(G) is odd and the number of conjugacy classes of G is h, then h #(G) (mod 16). Proof. We use the following basic fact: if n is an odd integer, then n 2 1 (mod 8). This can be proved by checking all the possibilities (n must be 1, 3, 5, 7 (mod 8)), or directly: n = 2m + 1 for some integer m, so that n 2 = (2m + 1) 2 = 4m 2 + 4m + 1 = 4m(m + 1) + 1. But m(m + 1) is always even, so n 2 1 (mod 8). Now let h be the number of conjugacy classes of G or equivalently the number of irreducible representations up to isomorphism. If we enumerate these as V 1,..., V h, we can assume that V 1 is the trivial representation. If d i = dim V i, then d 1 = 1 and d i divides #(G), hence d i = 2e i + 1. Moreover, if i 1, then V i and Vi are not isomorphic, so there are 2r remaining representations V i and they occur in pairs V i, Vi with dim Vi = dim V i = 2e i + 1. For example, we could index the representations so that V 1 is the trivial representation and V i+2 = V 2,..., V 2r+1 = V r+1. Hence d i = d i+r for 2 i r + 1. Then #(G) = h i=1 2r+1 r+1 d 2 i = 1 + d 2 i = r+1 = i=2 r+1 i=2 i=2 r+1 (2e i + 1) 2 = 1 + 2(4e 2 i + 4e i + 1) i=2 r+1 = 1 + 8e i (e i + 1) + 2r = 2r e i (e i + 1). i=2 As before, 8e i (e i + 1) 0 (mod 16), so that as claimed. d 2 i #(G) 2r + 1 = h (mod 16) i=2 15

16 6 The case of the rational numbers We begin with some general comments about the possible values of a character χ V of a finite group G. Definition 6.1. If G is a finite group, then the exponent of G is the least common multiple of the orders of the elements of G. Equivalently, N is the smallest positive integer such that g N = 1 for all g G. Note that N divides #(G) and that (by Cauchy s theorem) N and #(G) have the same prime factors. However, N can be strictly smaller that #(G). For example, for D 4, N = 4 but #(D 4 ) = 8. More generally, if #(G) = p n where p is a prime, then the exponent of G is p n G is cyclic. For another example, the exponent of S 4 is 12 but #(S 4 ) = 24. Suppose now that ρ V is a G-representation. For every g G, the eigenvalues λ i of ρ V (g) are a th roots of unity, where a is the order of g, and hence they are N th roots of unity, where N is the exponent of G. Since χ V (g) is the sum of the λ i, it follows that, for every g G, χ V (g) Q(µ N ), the extension of Q generated by the N th roots of unity. We can then ask when a G-representation V is defined over Q. In general, this is a very hard question. An easy question to ask is: given a finite group G, when is χ V (g) Q for every representation V of G (or equivalently every irreducible representation) and every g G? Note that χ V (g) Q χ V (g) Z, since χ V (g) is an algebraic integer. This question can be answered: Theorem 6.2. For a finite group G, χ V (g) Q for every representation V of G and every element g G for every g G and every a Z such that gcd(a, #(G)) = 1, g a is conjugate to g. Proof. We shall give the proof modulo a little Galois theory and number theory. Note that Q(µ N ) is a normal, hence Galois extension of Q since it is the splitting field of x N 1. Thus, given α Q(µ N ), α Q σ(α) = α for all σ Gal(Q(µ N )/Q). Moreover, Gal(Q(µ N )/Q) = (Z/NZ). In fact, let ζ be a generator of the cyclic group µ N. For example, we could take ζ = e 2πi/N. Then for all σ Gal(Q(µ N )/Q), σ(ζ) is another generator of µ N, hence σ(ζ) = ζ a for some integer a mod N, necessarily relatively prime to N. Viewing a as an element of (Z/NZ), the map σ a sets up an isomorphism Gal(Q(µ N )/Q) = (Z/NZ). Note also that, if σ(ζ) = ζ a, then σ(λ) = λ a for all λ µ N. 16

17 If V is a G-representation, then χ V (g) = i λ i, where the λ i Q(µ N ). Moreover, given σ Gal(Q(µ N )/Q) corresponding to a (Z/NZ), σ(χ V (g)) = i σ(λ i ) = i λ a i = χ V (g a ). Thus χ V (g) Q for every representation V of G and every element g G χ V (g) = χ V (g a ) for every representation V of G, every element g G, and every a Z which is relatively prime to N. Since the functions χ V span the space of class functions, this is the case g is conjugate to g a for every g G and every a Z which is relatively prime to N. Finally, since N and #(G) have the same prime factors, a is relatively prime to N a is relatively prime to #(G). Example 6.3. (1) The symmetric group S n has the property that, for every σ S n and every a Z which is relatively prime to #(S n ) = n!, σ a is conjugate to σ. In fact, we have seen that σ = γ 1 γ l, where the γ i are pairwise disjoint cycles of lengths n i > 1. Since the γ i commute, σ a = (γ 1 γ l ) a = γ a 1 γ a l. As each γ i is a cycle of length n i and gcd(a, n i ) = 1 since n i divides n!, a Modern Algebra I argument shows that γi a is an n i -cycle for every i. Also, the elements of {1,..., n} appearing in γi a are the same as the elements appearing in γ i, so that γ1 a,..., γa l are disjoint cycles of lengths n i. As we have seen before, this implies that σ a = γ1 a γa l is conjugate to σ. We shall see that, in fact, every representation of S n can be defined over Q. (2) For the quaternion group Q, as #(Q) = 8, a Z is relatively prime to #(Q) a is odd. For odd a, it is easy to check that g a is conjugate to g for every g Q. For example, 1 a = 1, ( 1) a = 1, and (±i) a = ±i if a 1 (mod 4) and (±i) a = i if a 3 (mod 4). But i and i are conjugate, since e.g. i = jij 1. Thus (as is easy to see directly) χ V (g) Q for every representation V of Q and every element g Q. On the other hand, the irreducible 2-dimensional representation of Q cannot be defined over Q. In fact, we have seen that it cannot be defined over R. 17

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