# Constructing inequivalent irreps of finite groups

Given a finite group $G$, let $n$ be the smallest integer s.t. $G \subset S_n$ à la Cayley. I guess that if I want to construct the complex irreps (not just the character table) of $G$ then I could take the irreps of $S_n$ and restrict them to $G$. It seems plausible that after decomposition this might yield all the irreps of $G$, but I'm not entirely sure of this. In any event it seems inefficient, even if it works.

So my question is: what is the (is there a?) general technique for constructing all the inequivalent complex irreps of a finite group?

Maybe this is better suited to the underflow site, but since it's come up in actual work (albeit of the documentary sort) I'm posting here.

• Just a comment, your suggestion for generating all irreps does work but as you say inefficient. – Torsten Ekedahl Nov 10 '10 at 15:57
• The $n$ is $|G|$, unless by à la Cayley you mean simply an injective morphism $G\to S_n$. – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Nov 10 '10 at 16:00
• @Mariano: I do, but good point. – Steve Huntsman Nov 10 '10 at 16:07
• There is usually a better choice than $|G|$. You just have to find a subgroup $H<G$ such that the permutation representation $\mathbb{C}[G/H]$ is faithful. Usually, you will be able to find bigger groups than {1}. Still, as Torsten Ekedahl says, this method will be inefficient. – Alex B. Nov 10 '10 at 16:08
• One method of constructing representations is to induce irreducible representations from (maximal) subgroups. – Bruce Westbury Nov 10 '10 at 16:11

I am not sure off the top of my head what the complexity of your suggested algorithm will be, but the bottleneck will likely be the fact that $S_n$ always has an irreducible representation of degree $n$. Generically, decomposing a representation of degree $|G|$ is much more work than you should have to do.
• @Bugs: Here is an example of a question which cannot be answered just by studying the character table. <i> What is the element in the top right corner of the matrix representing element $g$ (where $g$ is your favorite element of the group)?</i> On the other hand if one studies properties that are invariant under conjugation (both in the matrix group and in the original group itself), then you are probably right and one just needs the character table. – Mark Sapir Nov 11 '10 at 12:46