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50
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4answers
2k views

Is S_6 the automorphism group of a group?

The automorphism group of the symmetric group $S_n$ is $S_n$ when $n$ is not $2$ or $6$, in which cases it is respectively $1$ and the semidirect product of $S_6$ with the (cyclic) group of order $2$. ...
48
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I verify the Coq proof of Feit-Thompson?

I probably don't have the appropriate background to even ask this question. I know next to nothing about formal or computer-aided proof, and very little even about group theory. And this question is ...
41
votes
1answer
2k views

Which small finite simple groups are not yet known to be Galois groups over Q?

The subject line pretty much says it all. To expand just a little bit: 1) What is the smallest simple group that is not yet known to occur as a Galois group over $\mathbb{Q}$? (Variants: not known ...
41
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a 0-1 law for the theory of groups?

Several months ago, Dominik asked the question Is there a 0-1 law for the theory of groups? on mathstackexchange, but although his question received attention there is still no answer. By asking the ...
38
votes
10answers
2k views

Why are characters so well-behaved?

Last year I attended a first course in the representation theory of finite groups, where everything was over C. I was struck, and somewhat puzzled, by the inexplicable perfection of characters as a ...
38
votes
1answer
5k views

Order of an automorphism of a finite group

Let G be a finite group of order n. Must every automorphism of G have order less than n? (David Speyer: I got this question from you long ago, but I don't know whether you knew the answer. I stil ...
37
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there an odd-order group whose order is the sum of the orders of the proper normal subgroups?

For a finite group G, let |G| denote the order of G and write $D(G) = \sum_{N \triangleleft G} |N|$, the sum of the orders of the normal subgroups. I would like to call G "perfect" if D(G) = 2|G|, ...
36
votes
9answers
3k views

Is every finite group a group of “symmetries”?

I was trying to explain finite groups to a non-mathematician, and was falling back on the "they're like symmetries of polyhedra" line. Which made me realize that I didn't know if this was actually ...
34
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are the sporadic simple groups HUGE?

I'm merely a grad student right now, but I don't think an exploration of the sporadic groups is standard fare for graduate algebra, so I'd like to ask the experts on MO. I did a little reading on them ...
34
votes
5answers
2k views

Heuristic argument that finite simple groups _ought_ to be “classifiable”?

Obviously there exists a list of the finite simple groups, but why should it be a nice list, one that you can write down? Solomon's AMS article goes some way toward a historical / technical ...
31
votes
19answers
5k views

Fun applications of representations of finite groups

Are there some fun applications of the theory of representations of finite groups? I would like to have some examples that could be explained to a student who knows what is a finite group but does not ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

orders of products of permutations

Let $p$ be a prime, $n\gg p$ not divisible by $p$ (say, $n>2^{2^p}$). Are there two permutations $a, b$ of the set $\{1,...,n\}$ which together act transitively on $\{1,2,...,n\}$ and such that all ...
31
votes
0answers
1k views

Normalizers in symmetric groups

Question: Let $G$ be a finite group. Is it true that there is a subgroup $U$ inside some symmetric group $S_n$, such that $N(U)/U$ is isomorphic to $G$? Here $N(U)$ is the normalizer of $U$ in $S_n$. ...
30
votes
6answers
2k views

What are some interesting corollaries of the classification of finite simple groups?

The classification of finite simple groups -- whether it be viewed as finished, or as a work in progress -- is (or will be) without doubt an enormous achievement. It clearly sheds a great deal of ...
30
votes
2answers
979 views

Size of the smallest group not satisfying an identity.

Given $F = F(x_0,\ldots,x_n)$ the free group on $n+1$ generators. Define a function $M: F\rightarrow \mathbb{N}$ such that $F(w) = l$, if the smallest group in which $w$ is not an identity is of size ...
30
votes
1answer
1k views

Order-increasing bijection from arbitrary groups to cyclic groups

In his answer to this previous MO question, Gjergji Zaimi referred to the statement that for every finite group $G$ of order $n$, there is a bijection $\sigma : G \to \mathbb{Z}/n\mathbb{Z}$ ...
29
votes
3answers
563 views

Word evaluating to a group element and its inverse with different frequency

I'm supervising an undergraduate research project. Among other things, I've got the student to look at this paper of Gene Kopp and John Wiltshire-Gordon. This question arose from a missing complex ...
28
votes
10answers
5k views

The finite subgroups of SL(2,C)

Books can be written about the finite subgroups of $\mathrm{SL}(2,\mathbb C)$ (and their immediate family, like the polyhedral groups...) I am about to start writing notes for a short course about ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

Square roots of elements in a finite group and representation theory

Let $G$ be a finite group. In an an earlier question, Fedor asked whether the square root counting function $r_2:G\rightarrow \mathbb{N}$, which assigns to $g\in G$ the number of elements of $G$ that ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

For which $n$ is there only one group of order $n$?

Let $f(n)$ denote the number of (isomorphism classes of) groups of order $n$. A couple easy facts: If $n$ is not squarefree, then there are multiple abelian groups of order $n$. If $n \geq 4$ is ...
27
votes
3answers
944 views

When is $S_n \times S_m$ a subgroup of $S_p$?

I asked the following question on math.stackexchange several months ago: Let $n,m,p>1$ be such that $S_n \times S_m \hookrightarrow S_p$. Does it imply that $p \geq n+m$? Derek Holt gave a ...
27
votes
3answers
1k views

Being a subgroup: proof by character theory

Let me first cite a theorem due to Frobenius: Let $G$ be a finite group, with $H$ a proper subgroup ($H\ne (1)$ and $G$). Suppose that for every $g\not\in H$, we have $H\cap gHg^{-1}=(1)$. Then ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

Names of finite groups

Question: If you have a finite group, how do you name it? If, for whatever reason, you have to list all subgroups of $GL_2({\mathbb F}_5)$ up to isomorphism in a paper, you are likely to write ...
26
votes
5answers
1k views

Does $S_4$ inject into $SL(2,R)$ for some commutative ring $R$?

$\newcommand{\Z}{\mathbf{Z}}$ Given a nice infinite collection of groups, for example the symmetric groups, one can ask whether any finite group is a subgroup of one of them. Of course any finite ...
26
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there “real” vs. “quaternionic” conjugacy classes in finite groups?

The complex irreps of a finite group come in three types: self-dual by a symmetric form, self-dual by a symplectic form, and not self-dual at all. In the first two cases, the character is real-valued, ...
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Feit-Thompson Theorem: The Odd Order Paper

For reference, the Feit-Thompson Theorem states that every finite group of odd order is necessarily solvable. Equivalently, the theorem states that there exist no non-abelian finite simple groups of ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are Schur multipliers of finite simple groups so small?

Given a finite simple group $G$, we can consider the quasisimple extensions $\tilde G$ of $G$, that is to say central extensions which remain perfect. Some basic group cohomology (based on the ...
24
votes
11answers
6k views

Lecture notes on representations of finite groups

Next term I am supposed to teach a course on representation of finite groups. This is a third year course for undegrads. I was thinking to use the book of Grodon James and Martin Liebeck ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

Do all exact 1 -> A -> AxB -> B -> 1 split for finite groups?

Let $A$, $B$ be finite groups. Is it true that all short exact sequences $1 \rightarrow A \rightarrow A \times B \rightarrow B \rightarrow 1$ split on the right? In other words, do there exist ...
24
votes
2answers
872 views

A group-theoretic perspective on Frankl's union closed problem

Here is a group theoretic phrasing of a special case of the union closed conjecture: Question: Given a finite group $G$, is there an element of prime power order which is contained in at most half ...
24
votes
2answers
872 views

Is $\varphi(n)/n$ the maximal portion of $n$-cycles in a degree $n$ group?

Let $G$ be a degree $n$ group, i.e., a subgroup of the symmetric group $S_n$. Let $p(G)$ be the number of $n$-cycles in $G$ divided by the size of $G$. Examples: If $G$ is a cyclic transitive ...
24
votes
1answer
890 views

How does one compute invariants of certain Grassmannians inside the regular representation?

Barry Mazur and I have come across the question below, motivated by (but independent of) issues regarding the Leopoldt conjecture. Suppose that $\mathbf{C}$ is the complex numbers. Let $H$ be a ...
23
votes
9answers
2k views

How many groups of size at most n are there? What is the asymptotic growth rate? And what of rings, fields, graphs, partial orders, etc.?

Question. How many (isomorphism types of) finite groups of size at most n are there? What is the asymptotic growth rate? And the same question for rings, fields, graphs, partial orders, etc. ...
23
votes
1answer
865 views

Enumeration of a finite group

Let $G=\{g_1,g_2,...,g_n\}$ be a group with $e=g_1$ and $n$ is odd, Set $$a_1=g_1$$ $$a_2=g_1g_2$$ $$a_3=g_1g_2g_3$$ $$a_n=g_1g_2...g_n$$ I am looking for example that all $a_i$ are different from ...
23
votes
1answer
603 views

Properties to have matrices that commute in $\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb C)$

Let $G$ be a finite subgroup of $\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb C)$, $A,B \in G$ whose eigenvalues are thus in the unit circle. Assume that the eigenvalues ​​of $A$ are included in a circle arc of ...
23
votes
2answers
875 views

Realizing groups as commutator subgroups

What are the groups $X$ for which there exists a group $G$ such that $G' \cong X$? My considerations: $\bullet$ If $X$ is perfect we are happy with $G=X$. $\bullet$ If $X$ is abelian then $G := X ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Smallest n for which G embeds in $S_n$?

Question: Given a finite group $G$, how do I find the smallest $n$ for which $G$ embeds in $S_n$? Equivalently, what is the smallest set $X$ on which $G$ acts faithfully by permutations? This ...
22
votes
7answers
4k views

The finite subgroups of SU(n)

This question is inspired by the recent question "The finite subgroups of SL(2,C)". While reading the answers there I remembered reading once that identifying the finite subgroups of SU(3) is still an ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Character free proof that Frobenius kernel is a normal subgroup?

The question is in the title, but here is some background/reminders: A subgroup $H\neq\{1\}$ of a finite group $G$ is called a Frobenius complement if $H\cap H^g = \{1\}$ for all $g\in G\backslash ...
21
votes
3answers
659 views

Do finite groups acting on a ball have a fixed point?

Suppose that $G$ is a finite group, acting via homeomorphisms on $B^n$, the closed $n$-dimensional ball. Does $G$ have a fixed point? A fixed point for $G$ is a point $p \in B^n$ where for all ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

Applications of Frobenius theorem and conjecture

A theorem of Frobenius states that if $n$ divides the order of a finite group $G$, then the number of solutions to $x^n = 1$ in $G$ is a multiple of $n$. Frobenius conjectured that if the number of ...
21
votes
1answer
747 views

Richness of the subgroup structure of p-groups

Given a prime $p$ and $n \in \mathbb{N}$, let $f_p(n)$ be the smallest number such that there is a group of order $p^{f_p(n)}$ which all groups of order $p^n$ embed into. What is the asymptotic growth ...
21
votes
0answers
711 views

Monstrous Moonshine for Thompson group $Th$?

I. As a background, in Traces of Singular Moduli (p.2), Zagier defines the modular form of weight 3/2, $$g(\tau) = \frac{\eta^2(\tau)}{\eta(2\tau)}\frac{E_4(4\tau)}{\eta^6(4\tau)}=\vartheta_4(\tau)\, ...
21
votes
0answers
347 views

Class function counting solutions of equation in finite group: when is it a virtual character?

Let $w=w(x_1,\dots,x_n)$ be a word in a free group of rank $n$. Let $G$ be a finite group. Then we may define a class function $f=f_w$ of $G$ by $$ f_w(g) = |\{ (x_1,\dots, x_n)\in G^n\mid ...
20
votes
4answers
917 views

Are there two groups which are categorically Morita equivalent but only one of which is simple

Can you find two finite groups G and H such that their representation categories are Morita equivalent (which is to say that there's an invertible bimodule category over these two monoidal categories) ...
20
votes
2answers
735 views

Nilpotency of a group by looking at orders of elements

For any finite group $G$, let $$\theta(G) := \sum_{g \in G} \frac{o(g)}{\phi(o(g))},$$ where $o(g)$ denotes the order of the element $g$ in $G$, and where $\phi$ is the Euler totient function. It is ...
20
votes
1answer
825 views

Monstrous moonshine for $M_{24}$ and K3?

An important piece of Monstrous moonshine is the j-function, $$j(\tau) = \frac{1}{q}+744+196884q+21493760q^2+\dots\tag{1}$$ In the paper "Umbral Moonshine" (2013), page 5, authors Cheng, Duncan, and ...
20
votes
3answers
930 views

In an inductive family of groups, does the probability that a particular word is satisfied converge?

We have some group word $w$ in $k$ letters. We say a $k$-tuple of group elements $\vec{g} = (g_1, g_2, \ldots , g_k) \in G^k$ satisfies the word $w$ if $w$ gives the identity at $\vec{g}$. More ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Generating a finite group from elements in each conjugacy class

Is there a finite group such that, if you pick one element from each conjugacy class, these don't necessarily generate the entire group?
19
votes
11answers
2k views

Conjugacy classes in finite groups that remain conjugacy classes when restricted to proper subgroups

In a forthcoming paper with Venkatesh and Westerland, we require the following funny definition. Let G be a finite group and c a conjugacy class in G. We say the pair (G,c) is nonsplitting if, for ...