# 7 Semidirect product. Notes 7 Autumn Definition and properties

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1 MTHM024/MTH74U Group Theory Notes 7 Autumn 20 7 Semidirect product 7. Definition and properties Let A be a normal subgroup of the group G. A complement for A in G is a subgroup H of G satisfying HA = G; H A = {}. It follows that every element of G has a unique expression in the form ha for h H, a A. For, if h a = h 2 a 2, then h 2 h = a 2 a H A = {}, so h 2 h = a 2 a =, whence h = h 2 and a = a 2. We are going to give a general construction for a group with a given normal subgroup and a given complement. First some properties of complements. Proposition 7. Let H be a complement for the normal subgroup A of G. Then (a) H = G/A; (b) if G is finite then A H = G. Proof (a) We have G/A = HA/A = H/H A = H, the first equality because G = HA, the isomorphism by the Third Isomorphism Theorem, and the second equality because H A = {}. (b) Clear.

2 Example There are two groups of order 4, namely the cyclic group C 4 and the Klein group V 4. Each has a normal subgroup isomorphic to C 2 ; in the Klein group, this subgroup has a complement, but in the cyclic group it doesn t. (The complement would be isomorphic to C 2, but C 4 has only one subgroup isomorphic to C 2.) If A is a normal subgroup of G, then G acts on A by conjugation; the map a g ag is an automorphism of A. Suppose that A has a complement H. Then, restricting our attention to A, we have for each element of H an automorphism of A, in other words, a map φ : H Aut(A). Now this map is an automorphism: for (gφ)(hφ) maps a to h (g ag)h, (gh)φ maps a to (gh) a(gh), and these two expressions are equal. We conclude that, if the normal subgroup A has a complement H, then there is a homomorphism φ : H Aut(A). Conversely, suppose that we are given a homomorphism φ : H Aut(A). For each h H, we denote the image of a A under hφ by a h, to simplify the notation. Now we make the following construction: we take as set the Cartesian product H A (the set of ordered pairs (h,a) for h H and a A); we define an operation on this set by the rule (h,a ) (h 2,a 2 ) = (h h 2,a h 2 a 2). We will see the reason for this slightly odd definition shortly. Closure obviously holds; the element ( H, A ) is the identity; and the inverse of (h,a) is (h,(a ) h ). (One way round, we have (h,a) (h,(a ) h ) = (hh,a h (a ) h ) = ( H, N ); you should check the product the other way round for yourself.) What about the associative law? If h,h 2,h 3 H and a,a 2,a 3 N, then ((h,a ) (h 2,a 2 )) (h 3,a 3 ) = (h h 2,a h 2 a 2) (h 3,a 3 ) = (h h 2 h 3,(a h 2 a 2) h 3 a 3 ), (h,a ) ((h 2,a 2 ) (h 3,a 3 )) = (h,a ) (h 2 h 3,a h 3 2 a 3) = (h h 2 h 3,a h 2h 3 a h 3 2 a 3), and the two elements on the right are equal. So we have constructed a group, called the semi-direct product of A by H using the homomorphism φ, and denoted by A φ H. If the map φ is clear, we sometimes simply write A H. Note that the notation suggests two things: first, that A is the normal subgroup; and second, that the semi-direct product is a generalisation of the direct product. We now verify this fact. 2

3 Proposition 7.2 Let φ : H Aut(A) map every element of H to the identity automorphism. Then A φ H = A H. Proof The hypothesis means that a h = a for all a A, h H. So the rule for the group operation in A φ H simply reads (h,a ) (h 2,a 2 ) = (h h 2,a a 2 ), which is the group operation in the direct product. Theorem 7.3 Let G be a group with a normal subgroup A and a complement H. Then G = A φ H, where φ is the homomorphism from H to Aut(A) given by conjugation. Proof As we saw, every element of G has a unique expression in the form ha, for h H and a A; and (h a )(h 2 a 2 ) = h h 2 (h 2 a h 2 )a 2 = (h h 2 )(a h 2 a 2), where a h 2 here means the image of a under conjugation by h 2. So, if φ maps each element h H to conjugation of A by h (an automorphism of A), we see that the map ha (h,a) is an isomorphism from G to A φ H. Example: Groups of order pq, where p and q are distinct primes. Let us suppose that p > q. Then there is only one Sylow p-subgroup P, which is therefore normal. Let Q be a Sylow q-subgroup. Then Q is clearly a complement for P; so G is a semi-direct product P φ Q, for some homomorphism φ : Q Aut(P). Now Aut(C p ) =C p (see below). If q does not divide p, then Q and Aut(P) are coprime, so φ must be trivial, and the only possibility for G is C p C q. However, if q does divide p, then Aut(C p ) has a unique subgroup of order q, and φ can be an isomorphism from C q to this subgroup. We can choose a generator for C q to map to a specified element of order q in Aut(C p ). So there is, up to isomorphism, a unique semi-direct product which is not a direct product. In other words, the number of groups of order pq (up to isomorphism) is 2 if q divides p, and otherwise. Why is Aut(C p ) = C p? Certainly there cannot be more than p automorphisms; for there are only p possible images of a generator, and once one is chosen, the automorphism is determined. We can represent C p as the additive group of Z p, and then multiplication by any non-zero element of this ring is an automorphism of the additive group. So Aut(C p ) is isomorphic to the multiplicative group of Z p. The fact that this group is cyclic is a theorem of number theory (a generator for this cyclic group is called a primitive root mod p). We simply refer to Number Theory notes for this fact. 3

4 7.2 The holomorph of a group Let A be any group. Take H = Aut(A), and let φ be the identity map from H to Aut(A) (mapping every element to itself). Then the semidirect product A φ Aut(A) is called the holomorph of A. Exercise Show that the holomorph of A acts on A in such a way that A acts by right multiplication and Aut(A) acts in the obious way (its elements are automorphisms of A, which are after all permutations!). Note that all automorphisms fix the identity element of A; in fact, Aut(A) is the stabiliser of the identity in this action of the holomorph. Exercise Let G be a transitive permutation group with a regular normal subgroup A. Show that G is isomorphic to a subgroup of the holomorph of A. Example Let A be the Klein group. Its autoorphism group is the symmetric group S 3. The holomorph V 4 S 3 is the symmetric group S 4. Example Let p be a prime and n a positive integer. Let A be the elementary abelian group of order p n (the direct product of n copies of C p ). Show that Aut(A) = GL(n, p). The holomorph of A is called the affine group of dimension n over Z p, denoted by AGL(n, p). Exercise: Write down its order. Exercise A group G is called complete if it has the properties Z(G) = {} and Out(G) = {}. If G is complete, then Aut(G) = Inn(G) = G/Z(G) = G, in other words, a complete group is isomorphic to its automorphism group. Prove that, if G is complete, then the holomorph of G is isomorphic to G G. Exercise Find a group G which is not complete but satisfies Aut(G) = G. 7.3 Wreath product Here is another very important example of a semidirect product. Let F and H be groups, and suppose that we are also given an action of H on the set {,...,n}. Then 4

5 there is an action of H on the group F n (the direct product of n copies of F) by permuting the coordinates : that is, ( f, f 2,..., f n ) h = ( f h, f 2h,..., f nh ) for f,..., f n F and h H, where ih is the image of i under h in its given action on {,...,n}. In other words, we have a homomorphism φ from H to Aut(F n ). The semi-direct product F n φ H is known as the wreath product of F by H, and is written F wr H (or sometimes as F H). Example Let F = H = C 2, where H acts on {,2} in the natural way. Then F 2 is isomorphic to the Klein group {,a,b,ab}, where a 2 = b 2 = and ab = ba. If H = {h}, then we have a h = b and b h = a; the wreath product F wr H is a group of order 8. Prove that it is isomorphic to the dihedral group D 8 (see also below). There are two important properties of the wreath product, which I will not prove here. The first shows that it has a universal property for imprimitive permutation groups. Let G be a permutation group on Ω, (This means that G acts faithfully on Ω, so that G is a subgroup of the symmetric group on Ω, and assume that G acts imprimitively on Ω. Recall that this means there is an equivalence relation on Ω which is non-trivial (not equality or the universal relation) and is preserved by G. In this situation, we can produce two smaller groups which give information about G: H is the permutation group induced by G on the set of congruence classes, that is, the image of the action of G on the equivalence classes). Let be a congruence class, and F the permutation group induced on by its setwise stabiliser in G. Theorem 7.4 With the above notation, G is isomorphic to a subgroup of F wr H. Example. The partition {{,2},{3,4}} of {,2,3,4} is preserved by a group of order 8, which is isomorphic to D 8. The two classes of the partition are permuted transitively by a group isomorphic to C 2 ; and the subgroup fixing {,2} setwise also acts on it as C 2. The theorem illustrates that C 2 wrc 2 = D8 ; we can write the elements down explicitly as permutations. With the earlier notation, a = (,2), b = (3,4), and H = (,3)(2,4). The other application concerns group extensions, a topic we return to in the next section of the notes. Let F and H be arbitrary groups. An extension of F by H refers to any group G which has a normal subgroup isomorphic to F such that the quotient is isomorphic to F. 5

6 Theorem 7.5 Every extension of F by H is isomorphic to a subgroup of F wr H. Example There are two extensions of C 2 by C 2, namely C 4 and the Klein group V 4. We find them in the wreath product, using the earlier notation, as follows: ah = (,4,2,3) = C 4 (note that (ah) 2 = ahah = aa h = ab); ab,h = (,2)(3,4),(,3)(2,4) = V 4. 6

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