Lie algebras are algebraic structures which were introduced to study the concept of infinitesimal transformations. The term "Lie algebra" (after Sophus Lie) was introduced by Hermann Weyl in the 1930s. In older texts, the name "infinitesimal group" is used. Related mathematical concepts include Lie ...

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76
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3answers
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Has the Lie group E8 really been detected experimentally?

A few months ago there were several math talks about how the Lie group E8 had been detected in some physics experiment. I recently looked up the original paper where this was announced, "Quantum ...
57
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26answers
4k views

What would you want on a Lie theory cheat poster?

For some long time now I've thought about making a poster-sized "cheat sheet" with all the data about Lie groups and their representations that I occasionally need to reference. It's a moving target, ...
52
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10answers
12k views

why study Lie algebras?

I don't mean to be rude asking this question, I know that the theory of Lie groups and Lie algebras is a very deep one, very aesthetic and that has broad applications in various areas of mathematics ...
42
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3answers
2k views

Is “semisimple” a dense condition among Lie algebras?

The "Motivation" section is a cute story, and may be skipped; the "Definitions" section establishes notation and background results; my question is in "My Question", and in brief in the title. Some ...
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 ...
34
votes
1answer
898 views

Implications of non-negativity of coefficients of arbitrary Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials?

In their seminal 1979 paper here, Kazhdan and Lusztig studied an arbitrary Coxeter group $(W,S)$ and the corresponding Iwahori-Hecke algebra. In particular they showed how to pass from a standard ...
32
votes
7answers
3k views

Why the Killing form?

I'm teaching a short summer course on algebraic groups and it's time to talk about the Killing form on the Lie algebra. The students are all undergrads of varying levels of inexperience, and I try to ...
32
votes
5answers
2k views

Beautiful descriptions of exceptional groups

I'm curious about the beautiful descriptions of exceptional simple complex Lie groups and algebras (and maybe their compact forms). By beautiful I mean: simple (not complicated - it means that we need ...
31
votes
4answers
2k views

What role does the “dual Coxeter number” play in Lie theory (and should it be called the “Kac number”)?

While trying to get some perspective on the extensive literature about highest weight modules for affine Lie algebras relative to "level" (work by Feigin, E. Frenkel, Gaitsgory, Kac, ....), I run into ...
29
votes
7answers
5k views

What is the symbol of a differential operator?

I find Wikipedia's discussion of symbols of differential operators a bit impenetrable, and Google doesn't seem to turn up useful links, so I'm hoping someone can point me to a more pedantic ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

Motivating the Casimir element

Weyl's theorem states that any finite-dimensional representation of a finite-dimensional semisimple Lie algebra is completely reducible. In my mind, the "natural" way to prove this result is by way ...
26
votes
9answers
3k views

What is significant about the half-sum of positive roots?

I apologize for the somewhat vague question: there may be multiple answers but I think this is phrased in such a way that precise answers are possible. Let $\mathfrak{g}$ be a semisimple Lie algebra ...
24
votes
11answers
3k views

What does the generating function $x/(1 - e^{-x})$ count?

Let $x$ be a formal (or small, since the function is analytic) variable, and consider the power series $$ A(x) = \frac{x}{1 - e^{-x}} = \sum_{m=0}^\infty \left( -\sum_{n=1}^\infty ...
24
votes
8answers
4k views

“Modern” proof for the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula

Does someone has a reference to a modern proof of the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula? All proofs I have ever seen are related only to matrix Lie groups / Lie algebras and are not at all geometric ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

Does the quantum subgroup of quantum su_2 called E_8 have anything at all to do with the Lie algebra E_8?

The ordinary McKay correspondence relates the subgroups of SU(2) to the affine ADE Dynkin diagrams. The correspondence is that the vertices correspond to irreducible representations of the subgroup, ...
23
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2answers
1k views

Why do Lie algebras pop up, from a categorical point of view?

Groups pop up as automorphism groups in any category. Rings pop up as endomorphism rings in any additive category. Is there a similar way to attach a Lie algebra to an object in a category of a ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

A mysterious Heisenberg algebra identity from Sylvester, 1867

I am trying to understand two papers by James Joseph Sylvester: P92: "Note on the properties of the test operators which occur in the calculus of invariants, their derivatives, analogues, and laws of ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

What was Casimir's precise role in describing the center of the universal enveloping algebra of a semisimple Lie algebra?

This question is prompted by a recent MO question on explicit computations of Weyl group invariants for certain exceptional simple Lie algebras: 37602. Like some others who started graduate study in ...
19
votes
1answer
847 views

What's the status of the following relationship between Ramanujan's $\tau$ function and the simple Lie algebras?

Qiaochu asked this in the comments to this question. Since this is really his question, not mine, I will make this one Community Wiki. In MR0522147, Dyson mentions the generating function $\tau(n)$ ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Cohomology of Lie groups and Lie algebras

The length of this question has got a little bit out of hand. I apologize. Basically, this is a question about the relationship between the cohomology of Lie groups and Lie algebras, and maybe ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

“isotropic” subspaces of a simple Lie algebra

Let $\bf g$ be a finite-dimensional real simple Lie algebra of compact type and let $\left<-,-\right>$ denote the positive-definite inner product induced from the negative of the Killing form. ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why the BGG category O?

Given a finite-dimensional semisimple complex Lie algebra $\mathfrak{g}$, the Bernstein-Gelfand-Gelfand category $\mathcal O$ is the full subcategory of $\mathfrak g$-modules satisfying some ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Nice proofs of the Poincaré–Birkhoff–Witt theorem

Let $\mathfrak{g}$ be a finite-dimensional Lie algebra with an ordered basis $x_1 < x_2 < ... < x_n$. We define the universal enveloping algebra $U(\mathfrak{g})$ of $\mathfrak{g}$ to be the ...
18
votes
1answer
778 views

Why is there a connection between enumerative geometry and nonlinear waves?

I'm not 100% sure that this question is appropriate for this site. If it's not, please tell me and I'll delete it. Recently I encountered in a class the fact that there is a generating function of ...
18
votes
1answer
362 views

Why should affine lie algebras and quantum groups have equivalent representation theories?

Let $\mathfrak{g}$ be a simple lie algebra over $\mathbb{C}$ and let $\hat{\mathfrak{g}}$ be the Kac-Moody algebra obtained as the canonical central extension of the algebraic loop algebra ...
17
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17answers
8k views

Learning about Lie groups

Can someone suggest a good book for teaching myself about Lie groups? I study algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, and I like lots of examples. Thanks.
17
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7answers
3k views

Why is Lie's Third Theorem difficult?

Recall the following classical theorem of Cartan (!): Theorem (Lie III): Any finite-dimensional Lie algebra over $\mathbb R$ is the Lie algebra of some analytic Lie group. Similarly, one can propose ...
17
votes
8answers
2k views

Is every finite-dimensional Lie algebra the Lie algebra of an algebraic group?

Harold Williams, Pablo Solis, and I were chatting and the following question came up. In Lie group land (where you're doing differential geometry), given a finite-dimensional Lie algebra g, you can ...
17
votes
3answers
810 views

Is the sequence of partition numbers log-concave?

Let $p(n)$ denote the number of partitions of a positive integer $n$. It seems to me that we have for all $n>25$ $$ p(n)^2>p(n-1)p(n+1). $$ In other words, the sequence $(p(n))_{n\in ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Number of triples of roots (of a simply-laced root system) which sum to zero

In a paper 1105.5073, the authors took a simply-laced root system $\Delta$ of type $G=A,D,E$, and then counted the number of unordered triples $(\alpha,\beta,\gamma)$ of roots which sum to zero: ...
17
votes
2answers
577 views

Lie algebra automorphisms and detecting knot orientation by Vassiliev invariants

Recall that there are knots in $\mathbf{R}^3$ that are not invertible, i.e. not isotopic to themselves with the orientation reversed. However, it is not easy to tell whether or not a given knot is ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

Pythagorean 5-tuples

What is the solution of the equation $x^2+y^2+z^2+t^2=w^2$ in polynomials over C ("Pythagorean 5-tuples")? There are simple formulas describing Pythagorean n-tuples for n=3,4,6: n=3. The formula ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Gap in an argument in Fulton & Harris?

I'm reading through the two chapters in Fulton and Harris on the representation theory of $\mathfrak{sl}(3,\mathbb{C})$, in preparation for lecturing on them this week. I'll use F&H's notation, ...
16
votes
2answers
467 views

Generators of the cohomology of a Lie algebra

Fix a characteristic zero ground field. One can easily check that if $\mathfrak g$ is a simple Lie algebra, then the trilinear map map $\omega$ given by $$\omega(x,y,z)=B([x,y],z),$$ with $B$ the ...
15
votes
2answers
582 views

Is a retract of a free object free?

I wonder whether this is true in the categories of groups, monoids, commutative algebras, associative algebras, Lie algebras?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Invariants for the exceptional complex simple Lie algebra $F_4$

This is an edited version of the original question taking into account the comments below by Bruce. The original formulation was imprecise. Let $\mathfrak{g}$ denote a complex simple Lie algebra of ...
15
votes
1answer
569 views

(Dis)similarity between groups and Lie algebras

There are many questions which sound similar or the same for groups and Lie algebras. Some (very few, actually) of those questions have identical solutions and answers. Some have identical answers but ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

Introduction to W-Algebras/Why W-algebras?

Hi, does anyone know of an introduction and motivation for W-algebras? Edit: Okay, sorry I try to add some more background. W algebras occur, for example when you study nilpotent orbits: Take a nice ...
14
votes
2answers
736 views

Is homology finitely generated as an algebra?

If a differential graded algebra is finitely generated as an algebra, is its homology finitely generated as an algebra? Is it easier if we impose any of the three conditions: characteristic zero; ...
14
votes
3answers
587 views

Can one show the equivalence of the abstract and classical Jordan decompositions for simple Lie algebras without complete reducibility?

The following fact is basic in the theory of complex Lie algebras: Theorem. Let ${\mathfrak g} \subset {\mathfrak gl}_n({\bf C})$ be a simple Lie algebra, and let $x \in {\mathfrak g}$. Let $x = ...
14
votes
1answer
344 views

Proof for which primes H*G has torsion

In 1960 Borel proved a beautiful result: Theorem. Let G be a simple, simply connected Lie group. Suppose that p is a prime that does not divide any of the coefficients of the highest root (expressed ...
14
votes
3answers
775 views

What is the Zariski closure of the space of semisimple Lie algebras?

Given Leonid Positselski's excellent answer and comments to this question, I expect that the present one is a hard question. Recall that the Lie algebra structures on a (finite-dimensional over ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How are these two ways of thinking about the cross product related?

I was always bothered by the definition of the cross product given in e.g. a calculus course because it's never made clear how one would go about defining the cross product in a coordinate-free ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Outer automorphisms of simple Lie Algebras

There is, of course, a complete classification for simple complex Lie algebras. Is there a good reference which lists the group of outer automorphisms for each?
13
votes
4answers
1k views

homotopy type of connected Lie groups

Is there a simple proof (short and low-tech) of the following fact: (E. Cartan) A connected real Lie group $G$ is diffeomorphic (as a manifold) to $K\times\mathbb{R}^n$ where $K$ is a maximal ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Isometry group of a homogeneous space

Background Let $(M,g)$ be a finite-dimensional riemannian (or more generally pseudoriemannian) manifold. Suppose that I know that a certain Lie group $G$ acts transitively and isometrically on $M$ ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I stop worrying about root systems and decomposition theorems (for reductive groups)?

I apologize for this being a very very vague question. Just as personal experience, I never feel that I fully grasped the theory of root systems in Lie algebras and Lie/algebraic groups (I shall ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Formal Geometry

[edit: I posted an answer to this which summarizes one that I received verbally a few weeks after posting this question. I hope it is useful to someone.] I am presently seeking references which ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Motivation of Virasoro algebra

I have a question on definition/motivation of Virasoro algebra. Recall that Virasoro algebra is an infinite Lie algebra generated by elements $L_n$ $(n\in \mathbb{Z})$ and $c$ over $\mathbb{C}$ with ...
13
votes
1answer
399 views

Why do sl(2) and so(3) correspond to different points on the Vogel plane?

Vogel assigns to every simple metric Lie algebra (and more generally to every simple metric Lie algebra object in a symmetric monoidal category) a point in the orbifold $\mathbb{P}^2/S_3$ (where $S_3$ ...