Clearly, when $G$ and $H$ are two finite groups, and $V$ and $W$ are two representations of $G$ and $H$, respectively, then $V\otimes W$ is a representation of the group $G\times H$. It is a well-known fact that over an algebraically closed field of characteristic zero, every representation of $G\times H$ is a direct sum of such $V\otimes W$'s if the groups $G$ and $H$ are finite. Here are some things I am wondering about:

1) How canonical can these $V$'s and $W$'s be chosen? EDIT: This was discussed at decomposition of representations of a product group as I see. Yet the other questions are new.

2) Do we actually need all the conditions? What if our groups are not finite, or the characteristic of the field is nonzero? The latter may mean different things - we can work in the representation groups, we can work in the Grothendieck groups and we can work in the Grothendieck groups of the projective $k\left[G\right]$-modules (i. e. in the K-theory).

Note that we cannot lift the condition that $k$ be algebraically closed.

3) Does anything improve if $G=S_a$ and $H=S_b$ for integers $a$ and $b$ ? After all, symmetric groups have the nice property that all representations over $\mathbb C$ are defined over $\mathbb Q$, and this gives us hope that the tensorands $V$ and $W$ have some meaning.

Here is why I care:

The famous Hopf algebra $R\left(S\right)=\bigoplus\limits_{n\geq 0}R\left(S_n\right)$ (where $R\left(G\right)$ denotes the (Grothendieck) group of representations of a group $G$) has its product defined by

$U\cdot V = \mathrm{Ind}_{S_a\times S_b}^{S_{a+b}} U\otimes V$

(for $U\in R\left(S_a\right)$ and $V\in R\left(S_b\right)$) and its comultiplication (I hesitate to say coproduct) defined by

$\Delta\left(U\right) = \sum\limits_{k=0}^n \mathrm{Res}_{S_k\times S_{n-k}}^{S_n} U$

(for $U\in R\left(S_n\right)$). Now, $\mathrm{Res}_{S_k\times S_{n-k}}^{S_n} U$ is not an element of $R\left[S_k\right]\otimes R\left[S_{n-k}\right]$ per se, but an element of $R\left[S_k\times S_{n-k}\right]$, and one wishes to have a canonical isomorphism $R\left[S_k\times S_{n-k}\right]\to R\left[S_k\right]\otimes R\left[S_{n-k}\right]$ here. (Of course, it is canonical on the $R\left(S\right)$ level, but it would be great if it would also work out that nicely on the level of representations - after all we're being constructive. Note that multiplication in $R\left(S\right)$ is canonical on the level of representations.)

**Summary of the question:** Given a Young diagram $\lambda$ with $n$ boxes, is there a "canonical" (as in, explicit formulae or nice deterministic algorithm) way to decompose the restriction of the corresponding Specht module $R_{\lambda}$ to $S_a\times S_b$ (where $a+b=n$) into tensor products of the form $\left(\text{Specht module for }S_a\right)\otimes\left(\text{Specht module for }S_b\right)$ ?

Actually this is part of a bigger question, in case anyone is willing to answer that:

4) Is there a systematic text-book like account of representation theory of $S_n$ which actually uses the modern approaches (Hopf algebras, the Okounkov-Vershik constructive theory avoiding characters, algebraic combinatorics of Young tableaux, Liulevicius' K-theoretical interpretation), doesn't shy away from difficult parts (such as plethysms) and gives modern proofs of classical results rather than just refer to them as well-known (I am not really satisfied with the Schur-Froebnius era proofs, they are rather clumsy and intricate, some of them require working over $\mathbb C$ and character theory and they are just long). I am aware of Goldschmidt (very nice but too basic), Zelevinsky (seems to become tough reading) and Liulevicius (alas, only journal articles). Is there more?