Questions about the branch of abstract algebra that deals with groups.

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104
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7answers
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Does $\mathrm{Aut}(\mathrm{Aut}(…\mathrm{Aut}(G)…))$ stabilize?

Purely for fun, I was playing around with iteratively applying $\DeclareMathOperator{\Aut}{Aut}\Aut$ to a group $G$; that is, studying groups of the form $$ {\Aut}^n(G):= \Aut(\Aut(...\Aut(G)...)) $$ ...
98
votes
28answers
24k views

Cool problems to impress students with group theory [closed]

Since this forum is densely populated with algebraists, I think I'll ask it here. I'm teaching intermediate level algebra this semester and I'd like to entertain my students with some clever ...
64
votes
3answers
6k views

Does every non-empty set admit a group structure (in ZF)?

It is easy to see that in ZFC, any non-empty set $S$ admits a group structure: for finite $S$ identify $S$ with a cyclic group, and for infinite $S$, the set of finite subsets of $S$ with the binary ...
62
votes
2answers
2k views

How feasible is it to prove Kazhdan's property (T) by a computer?

Recently, I have proved that Kazhdan's property (T) is theoretically provable by computers (arXiv:1312.5431, explained below), but I'm quite lame with computers and have no idea what they actually ...
56
votes
1answer
3k views

Nontrivial finite group with trivial group homologies?

I stumbled across this question in a seminar-paper a long time ago: Does there exist a positive integer $N$ such that if $G$ is a finite group with $\bigoplus_{i=1}^NH_i(G)=0$ then $G=\lbrace ...
55
votes
1answer
3k views

Non-amenable groups with arbitrarily large Tarski number?

Just out of curiosity, I wonder whether there are non-amenable groups with arbitrarily large Tarski numbers. The Tarski number $\tau(G)$ of a discrete group $G$ is the smallest $n$ such that $G$ ...
53
votes
2answers
2k views

How many relations of length $n$ can exists in a group without enforcing shorter relations?

Let $G$ be a group with two generators. Suppose that all non-trivial words of length less or equal $n$ in the generators and their inverses define non-trivial elements in $G$. Question: How many ...
52
votes
10answers
5k views

Why do Groups and Abelian Groups feel so different?

Groups are naturally "the symmetries of an object". To me, the group axioms are just a way of codifying what the symmetries of an object can be so we can study it abstractly. However, this heuristic ...
51
votes
4answers
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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 $2$. ...
51
votes
3answers
5k views

Can a group be a universal Turing machine?

This question was inspired by this blog post of Jordan Ellenberg. Define a "computable group" to be an at most countable group $G$ whose elements can be represented by finite binary strings, with the ...
50
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
49
votes
6answers
9k views

Is Thompson's Group F amenable?

Last year a paper on the arXiv (Akhmedov) claimed that Thompson's group $F$ is not amenable, while another paper, published in the journal "Infinite dimensional analysis, quantum probability, and ...
48
votes
2answers
3k views

The inverse Galois problem and the Monster

I have a slight interest in both the inverse Galois problem and in the Monster group. I learned some time ago that all of the sporadic simple groups, with the exception of the Mathieu group $M_{23}$, ...
48
votes
9answers
4k views

What are “classical groups”?

Unlike many other terms in mathematics which have a universally understood meaning (for instance, "group"), the term classical group seems to have a fuzzier definition. Apparently it originates with ...
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 ...
44
votes
4answers
1k views

Can we ascertain that there exist an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H?$

Let $G,H$ be finite groups. Suppose we have a epimorphism $G\times G\rightarrow H\times H$. Can we find an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H$? A fellow graduate student asked me this question during TA ...
44
votes
3answers
2k views

Groups that do not exist

In the long process that resulted in the classification of finite simple groups, some of the exceptional groups were only shown to exist after people had computed (most of) their character tables and ...
43
votes
2answers
2k views

a categorical Nakayama lemma?

There are the following Nakayama style lemmata: (the classical Nakayama lemma) Let $R$ be a commutative ring with $1$ and $M$ a finitely generated $R$-module. If $m_1, \ldots, m_n$ generate $M$ ...
39
votes
5answers
3k views

when is A isomorphic to A^3?

this is totally elementary, but I have no idea how to solve it: let $A$ be an abelian group such that $A$ is isomorphic to $A^3$. is then $A$ isomorphic to $A^2$? probably no, but how construct a ...
39
votes
8answers
4k views

1 rectangle <= 4 squares

Almost 25 years ago a professor at Indiana U showed me the following problem: given a map $\mathbb{Z}^2\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$ such that the sum inside every square (parallel to the axes) is $\leq1$ ...
39
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 ...
39
votes
5answers
4k views

Which graphs are Cayley graphs?

Every group presentation determines the corresponding Cayley graph, which has a node for each group element, and arrows labeled with the generators to get from one group element to another. My main ...
38
votes
7answers
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Is there a slick proof of the classification of finitely generated abelian groups?

One the proofs that I've never felt very happy with is the classification of finitely generated abelian groups (which says an abelian group is basically uniquely the sum of cyclic groups of orders ...
38
votes
3answers
3k views

5/8 bound in group theory

The odds of two random elements of a group commuting is the number of conjugacy classes of the group $$ \frac{ \{ (g,h): ghg^{-1}h^{-1} = 1 \} }{ |G|^2} = \frac{c(G)}{|G|}$$ If this number exceeds ...
38
votes
2answers
3k views

Collapsible group words

What is the length $f(n)$ of the shortest nontrivial group word $w_n$ in $x_1,\ldots,x_n$ that collapses to $1$ when we substitute $x_i=1$ for any $i$? For example, $f(2)=4$, with the commutator ...
37
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are abelian groups amenable?

A (discrete) group is amenable if it admits a finitely additive probability measure (on all its subsets), invariant under left translation. It is a basic fact that every abelian group is amenable. ...
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
6answers
3k views

Does homeomorphic and isomorphic always imply homeomorphically isomorphic?

Let $(G,\cdot,T)$ and $(H,\star,S)$ be topological groups such that $(G,T)$ is homeomorphic to $(H,S)$ and $(G,\cdot)$ is isomorphic to $(H,\star)$. Does it follow that $(G,\cdot,T)$ and ...
36
votes
3answers
1k views

Transpositions of order three

Allow me to take advantage of your collective scholarliness... The symmetric group $\mathbb S_n$ can be presented, as we all know, as the group freely generated by letters ...
36
votes
2answers
1k views

Isomorphic general linear groups implies isomorphic fields?

Suppose $n > 1$ is a natural number. Suppose $K$ and $L$ are fields such that the general linear groups of degree $n$ over them are isomorphic, i.e., $GL(n,K) \cong GL(n,L)$ as groups. Is it ...
35
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the current status of the Kaplansky zero-divisor conjecture for group rings?

Let $K$ be a field and $G$ a group. The so called zero-divisor conjecture for group rings asserts that the group ring $K[G]$ is a domain if and only if $G$ is a torsion-free group. A couple of good ...
34
votes
2answers
1k views

What algebraic group does Tannaka-Krein reconstruct when fed the category of modules of a non-algebraic Lie algebra?

Let $\mathfrak g$ be a finite-dimensional Lie algebra over $\mathbb C$, and let $\mathfrak g \text{-rep}$ be its category of finite-dimensional modules. Then $\mathfrak g\text{-rep}$ comes equipped ...
33
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 ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

Lie group examples

I'm looking for interesting applications of Lie groups for an introductory Lie groups graduate course. In particular I'd like to hear of non-standard examples that at first sight do not seem to be ...
33
votes
2answers
1k views

How much of character theory can be done without Schur's lemma or the Artin-Wedderburn theorem?

This is a somewhat imprecise question, as I am not sure how exactly how to formalise how to do mathematics "without" a certain key tool, but hopefully the intent of the question will still be clear. ...
33
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 $S_n$. ...
32
votes
7answers
3k views

Does $SL_3(R)$ embed in $SL_2(R)$?

Is there any non-trivial ring such that $SL_{3}(R)$ is isomorphic to a subgroup of $SL_{2}(R)$? $SL_{3}(\mathbb{Z})$ is not an amalgam, and has the wrong number of order $2$ elements to be a subgroup ...
32
votes
3answers
611 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 ...
32
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 $\sigma \colon G \to \mathbb{Z}/n\mathbb{Z}$ ...
31
votes
4answers
2k views

Can the symmetric groups on sets of different cardinalities be isomorphic?

For any set X, let SX be the symmetric group on X, the group of permutations of X. My question is: Can there be two nonempty sets X and Y with different cardinalities, but for which SX is isomorphic ...
31
votes
3answers
2k views

Proper subgroup of GL(n,Z) isomorphic to GL(n,Z)?

This is just a question originated from some random thoughts. I hope it's nevertheless fit for mo. It's possible to find a proper subgroup of $GL(n,\mathbb{C})$ isomorphic to $GL(n,\mathbb{C})$ ...
31
votes
1answer
3k views

100€ bounty ended: Do invariant measures maximize the integral?

Update: The negative answer to the following question has been provided by Matthew Daws, who won, but also rejected, the bounty of 100 euro that I set over the question. Let $\mathcal M(\mathbb Z)$ ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

Infinitely many solutions of a diophantine equation

If $P(x,y,...,z)$ is a polynomial with integer coefficients then every integer solution of $P=0$ corresponds to a homomorphism from $\mathbb{Z}[x,y,...,z]/(P)$ to $\mathbb{Z}$. So there are infinitely ...
31
votes
1answer
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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 ...
30
votes
2answers
1k 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
3answers
2k views

Fixed points of $x\mapsto 2^{2^{2^{2^x}}} \mod p$

Let $p$ be a prime. For how many elements $x$ of $\{0,1,\dotsc,p-1\}$ can it be the case that $$2^{2^{2^{2^x}}} = x \mod p?$$ In particular, can you find a simple proof (or, even better, several ...
30
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 ...
29
votes
3answers
880 views

Non-split extension of the rationals by the integers

Can someone describe explicitly an abelian group $A$ such that the extension $$0 \to \mathbb{Z} \to A \to \mathbb{Q} \to 0$$ doesn't split ? Background: The Stein-Serre theorem (Hilton, Stammbach: A ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

finding the parity of a permutation in little space

Suppose we have a permutation $\pi$ on $1,2,\ldots,n$ and want to determine the parity (odd or even) of $\pi$. The standard method is find the cycles of $\pi$ and recall that the parity of $\pi$ ...
28
votes
14answers
3k views

Fantastic properties of Z/2Z

Recently I gave a lecture to master's students about some nice properties of the group with two elements $\mathbb{Z}/2\mathbb{Z}$. Typically, I wanted to present simple, natural situations where the ...