# Representations. 1 Basic definitions

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1 Representations 1 Basic definitions If V is a k-vector space, we denote by Aut V the group of k-linear isomorphisms F : V V and by End V the k-vector space of k-linear maps F : V V. Thus, if V = k n, then Aut V = GL(n, k) and End V = M n (k). In general, if V is a finite dimensional vector space of dimension n, then a choice of basis defines a group isomorphism Aut V = GL(n, k) and a vector space End V = M n (k). From now on, unless otherwise stated, k = C, i.e all vector spaces are C-vector spaces, all linear maps are C-linear, and all vector subspaces are closed under scalar multiplication by C. Definition 1.1. Let G be a group. A representation of G on V is a homomorphism ρ: G Aut V, where V is a finite dimensional C-vector space. Equivalently, for all g G, ρ(g): V V is a linear map satisfying: ρ(g)(ρ(h)(v)) = ρ(gh)(v) and ρ(1) = Id, i.e. a representation is equivalent to an action of G on V by linear maps. The degree deg ρ is by definition dim V. Finally, a choice of basis of V identifies ρ with a homomorphism (also denoted ρ) from G to GL(n, C). Changing the basis replaces ρ by T ρt 1, where T is an invertible matrix. We will usually abbreviate the data of the representation ρ: G Aut V by ρ, or frequently by V, with the understanding that the vector space V includes the data of the homomorphism ρ or of the G-action. Given V, we often denote the corresponding homomorphism by ρ V, especially if there are several different G-representations under discussion. Remark 1.2. For a general field k and a finite dimensional k-vector space V (and we are especially interested in the case k = R or k = Q), we can speak of a k-representation, i.e. a homomorphism G Aut V. After choosing a k-basis, this amounts to a homomorphism G GL(n, k). Note that, if k is a subfield of a larger field K, there is an obvious inclusion GL(n, k) 1

2 GL(n, K) which realizes GL(n, k) as a subgroup of GL(n, K). For example, the group of n n invertible matrices with real (or rational) coefficients is a subgroup of GL(n, C). To say that V is a real representation, or a rational representation of G, is to say that we can find a representation and an appropriate basis so that all of the corresponding matrices have real or rational entries. As we will see, this is not always possible. Conversely, the field C is also a vector space over R of dimension 2, with basis 1, i. Similarly, C n is a real vector space of dimension 2n, with R-basis e 1, ie 1, e 2, ie 2,..., e n, ie n. Moreover, a C-linear map F : C n C n is clearly R-linear as well, giving an inclusion homomorphism ι: GL(n, C) GL(2n, R). For example, in case n = 1, GL(1, C) = C, and the above homomorphism is given by ( ) a b ι(a + bi) =. b a For a general finite extension K of a field k (in case you have taken Modern Algebra II), we can view K as a k-vector space whose dimension over k is by definition the field degree [K : k]. Then K n can be viewed as a k-vector space of dimension [K : k]n. Example 1.3. (0) For V = {0} the vector space of dimension zero, Aut V = {Id} and there is a unique G-representation on V. However, this representation is uninteresting and we will systematically exclude it most of the time. (1) dim V = 1, ρ(g) = Id for all g G. We call V the trivial representation. More generally, we can take dim V arbitrary but still set ρ(g) = Id for all g G (i.e. ρ: G Aut V is the trivial homomorphism). Unlike the case of the zero representation above, the trivial representation plays an important role. (2) If dim V = 1, Aut V = C acting by multiplication, and a representation ρ is the same as a homomorphism G C. (3) If G is finite, then the regular representation ρ reg is defined as follows: V = C[G], the free vector space with basis G, and the homomorphism ρ reg is defined by: ρ reg (h) t g g = t g (hg) = t h 1 g g. Viewing C[G] as the space of functions f : G C, the G-action is given by ρ(g)(f) = f L 1 g, 2

3 where L g : G G is left multiplication by g. Notice that we take L 1 g not L g, which is necessary to keep the order right, and that this is already built into the above formula for ρ reg. (4) More generally, if X is a finite G-set, then C[X] is a G-representation via ( ) ρ(h) t x x = t x (h x) = t h 1 x x. x X x X x X Again, we can view C[X] as the vector space of functions f : X C, and the action on functions is given by ρ(g)(f) = f L 1 g, where L g : X X is the function defined by L g (x) = g x. For example, C n is a representation of the symmetric group S n (the standard representation) via: if σ S n, then ρ(σ)(e i ) = e σ(i), and hence ( n ) ρ(σ) t i e i = i=1 n t i e σ(i) = i=1 n t σ 1 (i)e i. i=1 (5) If G = Z, then a homomorphism ρ: G GL(n, C) is uniquely determined by ρ(1) = A, since then ρ(n) = A n for all n Z. (6) If ρ is a G-representation and H is a subgroup of G, then we can restrict the function ρ to H to obtain a homomorphism ρ H : H Aut V. We denote this representation of H by Res G H ρ. More generally, if f : G G is a homomorphism, then ρ f : G Aut V is a G -representation. 2 Invariant subspaces and morphisms Definition 2.1. A vector subspace of a G-representation V is a G-invariant subspace if, for all g G, ρ(g)(w ) = W for all g G, ρ(g)(w ) W (since then we also have ρ(g 1 )(W ) = (ρ(g) 1 )(W ) W, hence W ρ(g)(w )). In this case, W is also a G-representation via the action of G on V : For w W, we set ρ W (w) = ρ V (w). In the definition, we allow for the possibility that W = {0}, see (1) below. Example 2.2. (1) {0} and V are always G-invariant subspaces. (2) For the standard representation C n of S n, W 1 = {(t,..., t) : t C} and W 2 = {(t 1,..., t n ) : n i=1 t i = 0} are S n -invariant. (3) If W is a one dimensional G-invariant subspace of V, then W = C v where v is a (nonzero) common eigenvector for G, i.e. ρ(g)(v) = λ(g)v for 3

4 some λ(g) C, and necessarily λ: G C is a homomorphism. Conversely, if v is a (nonzero) common eigenvector for G, then C v is a one dimensional G-invariant subspace of V. (4) An easy argument shows that the intersection of two G-invariant subspaces is again G-invariant. (5) If W 1 is a G-invariant subspace of V and W 2 is a G-invariant subspace of W 1, then clearly W 2 is a G-invariant subspace of V. Definition 2.3. For a G-representation V, V G is defined as for G-sets: V G = {v V : ρ(g)(v) = v for all g G}. It is a vector subspace of V, in fact a G-invariant subspace (possibly {0}). For example, (C n ) Sn = W 1 in the above notation. Definition 2.4. If V 1 and V 2 are two G-representations, a G-morphism or simply a morphism or an intertwining operator is a linear map F : V 1 V 2 such that, for all g G, F ρ V1 (g) = ρ V2 (g) F. Equivalently, for all g G, ρ V2 (g) F ρ V1 (g) 1 = F. The composition of two G-morphisms is a G-morphism. The set of all G- morphisms F : V W is clearly a vector subspace of Hom(V, W ); we denote it by Hom G (V, W ). The function F is a G-isomorphism or simply an isomorphism if F is a linear isomorphism; in this case F 1 is also a G-morphism. The composition of two G-isomorphisms is a G-isomorphism. We use the symbol = to denote G-isomorphism if the meaning is clear from the context. Example 2.5. (1) If V is a G-representation and t C, then t Id: V V is a G-isomorphism. (2) If G is abelian and V is a G-representation, then ρ V (h) is a G-isomorphism from V to itself for all h G, because, for all g G, ρ V (h) ρ V (g) = ρ V (hg) = ρ V (gh) = ρ V (g) ρ V (h). More generally, for an arbitrary G, if V is a G-representation, then ρ V (h) is a G-isomorphism for all h Z(G). (3) For G = S n, V 1 = C n with the usual permutation representation of S n, and V 2 = C viewed as the trivial representation of S n, the linear map F (t 1,..., t n ) = n i=1 t i is an S n -morphism of representations. We leave the following as an exercise: 4

5 Lemma 2.6. If V 1 and V 2 are two G-representations and F : V 1 V 2 is a G-morphism, then Ker F is a G-invariant subspace of V 1 and Im F is a G- invariant subspace of V 2. More generally, for every G-invariant subspace W 2 of V 2, F 1 (W 2 ) is a G-invariant subspace of V 1, and, for every G-invariant subspace W 1 of V 1, F (W 1 ) is a G-invariant subspace of V 2. 3 New G-representations from old In this section, we describe how the standard linear algebra constructions lead to methods of constructing representations. (1) If V 1 and V 2 are G-representations, then V 1 V 2 is also a representation, via: ρ V1 V 2 (g)(v 1, v 2 ) = (ρ V1 (g)(v 1 ), ρ V2 (g)(v 2 )). In terms of matrices, for appropriate choices of bases, ρ V1 V 2 (g) is written in block diagonal form: ( ) ρv1 (g) O ρ V1 V 2 (g) =. O ρ V2 (g) We are especially interested in internal direct sums. In fact, we have the following: Lemma 3.1. Let V be a G-representation. If W 1, W 2 are two G-invariant subspaces of V such that V is the (internal) direct sum of the subspaces W 1 and W 2, then the direct sum map W 1 W 2 V is a G-isomorphism. Proof. The linear map F : W 1 W 2 V defined by F (w, w 2 ) = w 1 + w 2 is a linear isomorphism, and we have to show that it is a G-morphism. Note that, by definition, if w i W i, then ρ V (w i ) = ρ Wi (w i ). Then ρ V F (w 1, w 2 ) = ρ V (w 1 + w 2 ) = ρ V (w 1 ) + ρ V (w 2 ) = ρ W1 (w 1 ) + ρ W2 (w 2 ) Thus F is a G-morphism. = F (ρ W1 (w 1 ), ρ W2 (w 2 )) = F ρ W1 W 2 (w 1, w 2 ). (2) If V is a G-representation, then V = Hom(V, C) is also a G-representation via ρ V (g)(f) = f ρ V (g 1 ) = f (ρ V (g) 1 ). The inverse is necessary to keep ρ V a homomorphism. 5

6 (3) More generally, if V 1 and V 2 are G-representations, then Hom(V 1, V 2 ) is as well, via ρ Hom(V1,V 2 )(g)(f ) = ρ V2 (g) F ρ V1 (g 1 ). Here (2) is a special case where we view C as the trivial representation of G. With this definition, the fixed subspace (Hom(V 1, V 2 )) G = Hom G (V 1, V 2 ), the space of G-morphisms from V 1 to V 2. (4) Finally, if V 1 and V 2 are G-representations, then V 1 V 2 is as well, via ρ V1 V 2 = ρ V1 ρ V2. It is easy to check that the natural isomorphisms V = V and Hom(V, W ) = V W are all G-isomorphisms. However, in general V is not G-isomorphic to V. 4 Irreducible representations Definition 4.1. A G-representation V is irreducible if V {0}, and the only G-invariant subspaces of V are V and {0}. A G-representation V is reducible if it is not irreducible. Example 4.2. (1) If dim V = 1, then V is irreducible. (2) A two dimensional representation is reducible there exists a common nonzero eigenvector for G. (3) The standard representation C n of S n is not irreducible, since it has the two subspaces W 1, W 2. However, W 1 is irreducible because dim W 1 = 1, and we will see that W 2 is also irreducible for every n 2. Lemma 4.3. If V {0}, then there exists a G-invariant subspace W {0} of V which is an irreducible G-representation. Proof. The proof is by complete induction on dim V. If dim V = 1, then V is irreducible and we can take W = V. For the inductive step, suppose that the result has been proved for all representations of degree less than n. Let V be a representation of degree n. If V is irreducible, then as before we can take W = V. If V is not irreducible, then there exists a G-invariant subspace V of V with 1 deg V < deg V = n. By the inductive hypothesis, there exists a G-invariant subspace W {0} of V which is an irreducible G-representation. Then W is a nonzero G-invariant subspace of V which is an irreducible G-representation. This completes the inductive step and hence the proof. 6

7 Lemma 4.4. Let F : V W be a morphism of G-representations. (i) If V is irreducible, then F is either 0 or injective. (ii) If W is irreducible, then F is either 0 or surjective. (iii) If both V and W are irreducible, then F is either 0 or an isomorphism. Proof. (i) We have seen that Ker F is a G-invariant subspace of V. Hence either Ker F {0} or Ker F = V. In the first case, F is injective, and in the second case F = 0. (ii) Similarly, Im F is a G-invariant subspace of W. Hence either Im F = {0} or Im F = W. In the first case, F = 0, and in the second case F is surjective. (iii) This follows from (i) and (ii). Proposition 4.5 (Schur s lemma). Let V be an irreducible G-representation and let F Hom G (V, V ). Then there exists a t C such that F = t Id. Hence, if V and W are two irreducible G-representations, then either V is not isomorphic to W and Hom G (V, W ) = 0, or V is isomorphic to W and dim Hom G (V, W ) = 1. Proof. We have seen that every element of Hom G (V, V ) is either 0 or an isomorphism. Let F Hom G (V, V ). Then there exists a (nonzero) eigenvector v V, i.e. a nonzero v V such that there exists a t C with F (v) = tv. Thus, the G-morphism F t Id is not invertible, since v Ker(F t Id) and v 0. It follows that F t Id = 0. Hence F = t Id. For the proof of the last statement, if V and W are not isomorphic, then, by (iii) of Lemma 4.4, Hom G (V, W ) = 0. If V is G-isomorphic to W, we may as well assume that V = W, and then the argument above shows that Hom G (V, V ) = C, hence has dimension one. Remark 4.6. The proof above used the fact that the characteristic polynomial of F had a root, which follows since every nonzero polynomial with coefficients in C has a root in C. In the terminology of Modern Algebra II, C is algebraically closed. In general, for a field k, we have defined k- representations and can speak of a k-representation V {0} as being k- irreducible, i.e. there are no G-invariant k-subspaces of V except for {0} and V. The proof of Schur s lemma then shows that Hom G (V, V ) is a division ring containing k as a subfield. There exist examples of R-irreducible R-representations V for which the ring Hom G (V, V ) is isomorphic to C, and examples where Hom G (V, V ) is isomorphic to H. 7

8 We turn next to the construction of G-invariant projections. Here, the methods will only work in the case of a finite group (although we shall make some remarks about other cases later). Proposition 4.7. Let G be a finite group. Suppose that V is a G-representation, and define p: V V p(v) = 1 ρ V (g)(v). Then p is a G-morphism with Im p = V G and p(v) = v for all v V G, i.e. p is a G-invariant projection from V to V G. Hence, as G-representations, V = V G W, where W = Ker p is a G-invariant subspace. Proof. First, if v V G, then by definition ρ V (g)(v) = v for all g G. Thus p(v) = 1 ρ V (g)(v) = 1 v = 1 (v) = v. In particular, V G Im p. Next, if h G and v V, then ρ V (h)p(v) = ρ V (h) 1 ρ V (g)(v) = 1 ρ V (h) ρ V (g)(v) = 1 ρ V (hg)(v). But, as g runs through G, hg also runs through the elements of G. Hence 1 ρ V (hg)(v) = 1 ρ V (g)(v) = p(v). Thus, for all v V and h G, ρ V (h)p(v) = p(v). Hence Im p V G, and so Im p = V G since we have already showed that V G Im p. It follows that V = W V G (internal direct sum), where W = Ker p. Next we show that p is a G-morphism. This is a very similar argument to the proof above that Im p V G. Since the G-action on Im p = V G is trivial, it suffices to show that p ρ V (h) = p for all h G. But p ρ V (h) = 1 ρ V (g) ρ V (h) = 1 8 ρ V (gh).

9 As before, as g runs through G, gh also runs through the elements of G. Thus 1 ρ V (gh) = 1 ρ V (g) = p, so that p ρ V (h) = p = ρ V (h) p for all h G. Finally, since p is a G-morphism, W = Ker p is a G-invariant subspace of V. We have seen that, as G-representations, V = W V G. Remark 4.8. If V G = {0}, then Proposition 4.7 tells us that, for all v V, ρ V (g)(v) = 0. Definition 4.9. V is decomposable if there exist two nonzero G-invariant subspaces W 1, W 2 of V such that V = W 1 W 2. V is completely reducible if V 0 and there exist irreducible G-representations V 1,..., V k such that V = V 1 V k. For example, an irreducible representation is completely reducible (take k = 1 above). Clearly, if V = W 1 W 2 and W 1, W 2 are completely reducible, then V is completely reducible as well. Theorem 4.10 (Maschke s theorem). If G is finite and W is a G-invariant subspace of G, then there exists a G-invariant subspace W of V such that V = W W. Proof. We will find a G-morphism p: V V such that Im p W and p(w) = w for all w W. Setting W = Ker p, it then follows that W is also G-invariant, and that V is the internal direct sum of W and W. Then Lemma 3.1 implies that the sum map W W V is an isomorphism of G-representations. To find p, begin by choosing an arbitrary linear map p 0 : V V such that Im p 0 W and p 0 (w) = w for all w W. For example, choose a basis w 1,..., w a, w a+1,..., w n of V such that w 1,..., w a is a basis of W and define p 0 by defining it on the basis vectors w i by defining { w i, if i a; p 0 (w i ) = 0, if i > a. Then set p = 1 ρ V (g) p 0 ρ V (g) 1 = 1 ρ Hom(V,V ) (g)(p 0 ), 9

10 viewing p 0 as an element of the G-representation Hom(V, V ). By Proposition 4.7, p Hom G (V, V ), so that p is a G-morphism. Since Im p 0 W and W is G-invariant, Im p W. Finally, if w W, then ρ V (g) 1 (w) W as well, again since W is G-invariant. Then p 0 (ρ V (g) 1 (w)) = ρ V (g) 1 (w) by construction, and so p(w) = 1 = 1 ρ V (g)(p 0 (ρ V (g) 1 (w))) = 1 w = w. Thus p has the desired properties. ρ V (g)(ρ V (g) 1 (w)) Corollary If G is finite, then every nonzero G-representation V is completely reducible. Proof. The proof is by complete induction on the degree of a G-representation. If dim V = 1, then V is irreducible and so (as we have already noted) it is completely reducible. Now suppose that the corollary has been proved for all representations of degree less than n. If V is a representation of degree n, first suppose that V is irreducible. Then as above V is completely reducible. Otherwise, V is reducible, so there exists a G-invariant subspace W of V with 0 < deg W < n. By Maschke s theorem, V is G-isomorphic to W W, where deg W = n deg W, and hence 0 < deg W < n as well. By the inductive hypothesis, W and W are completely reducible. Thus, V = W W is completely reducible as well. Corollary Suppose that G is a finite abelian group. Then every nonzero G-representation V is a direct sum of one dimensional representations. Equivalently, there is a basis of V consisting of common eigenvectors for G. Proof. It is clearly enough to prove that, if G is a finite abelian group, then every irreducible representation of G is one-dimensional. Let V be an irreducible G-representation. In particular V 0. By Schur s lemma, Hom G (V, V ) = C Id. On the other hand, we have seen that, if G is abelian, then, for every g G, ρ V (g) Hom G (V, V ), and hence ρ V (g) = λ(g) Id for some λ(g) C. Thus, choosing some nonzero v V, ρ V (g) = λ(g)v for every g G. It follows that the one-dimensional subspace C v = span{v} is a G-invariant, nonzero subspace of V. Since V is irreducible, V = C v and hence V is one-dimensional. 10

11 Corollary If A GL(n, C) is a matrix of finite order d, then A is diagonalizable and its eigenvalues are d th roots of unity. Proof. If A has order d, then A defines a representation of Z/dZ on C n by: ρ(k) = A k. Then by the previous corollary, C n is a direct sum of eigenspaces for A. Since A d = Id, it is clear that all of the eigenvalues of A are d th roots of unity. Corollary If G is a finite group and V is a G-representation, then, for all g G, the linear map ρ V (g): V V is diagonalizable, and its eigenvalues are d th roots of unity, where d divides. Proof. Every element g of G has finite order dividing, by Lagrange s theorem. Moreover, ρ V (g) has finite order dividing the order of g, and hence dividing. Then apply the previous corollary. Remark For a not necessarily finite group G, a G-representation V is unitary if there exists a positive definite Hermitian inner product H which is G-invariant, i.e. for which H(ρ V (g)v, ρ V (g)w) = H(v, w), for all v, w V and g G. If V is unitary, then there exists a basis of V for which ρ V (g) is unitary for all g G, i.e. there exists a choice of basis for which ρ V is a homomorphism to U(n). Every unitary representation satisfies Maschke s theorem, because if W V is G-invariant, then W is also G-invariant and V = W W. If G is finite, then there always exists a G-invariant positive definite Hermitian inner product H: start with an arbitrary positive definite Hermitian inner product H 0, and set H(v, w) = H 0 (ρ V (g)v, ρ V (g)w). Then H is G-invariant. Example We have seen that every A GL(n, C) defines a representation of Z on C n, via ( ρ(n) ) = A n. In particular, ( defines ) a Z-representation 1 1 on C 2 by taking A = and hence A n 1 n =. Note that A n e 1 = e 1 and A n e 2 = e 2 + ne 1. Thus C e 1 is a Z-invariant subspace. In fact, it is the unique Z-invariant subspace: if W {0}, C 2 is an invariant subspace, then dim W = 1 and W = C w where w is a nonzero eigenvector for A and hence A n. But A has a unique nonzero eigenvector up to a scalar, namely e 1. It follows that the Z-representation C 2 is not completely reducible. Hence there is no Z-invariant positive definite Hermitian inner product on C 2. From now on, G will always denote a finite group. 11

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