This question is closely related to this one.

Ado's theorem states that given a finite-dimensional Lie algebra $\mathfrak g$, there exists a faithful representation $\rho\colon\mathfrak g \to \mathfrak{gl}(V)$, with $V$ a finite-dimensional vector space. In the real or complex case one can take the exponent of the image and obtain a (virtual) Lie subgroup $\exp\rho(\mathfrak g)$ in $GL(V)$ having Lie algebra $\rho(\mathfrak g)$. But nothing guarantees that this subgroup will be closed in $GL(V)$.

So the question is: is every finite-dimensional Lie algebra the Lie algebra of some closed linear Lie group? I am primarily interested in the real and complex case, but it might be interesting to ask what happens in the ultrametric case as well.


I think that the answer is yes. It looks like you can prove it by relying on a convenient proof of Ado's theorem.

Procesi's book, "Lie groups: an approach through invariants and representations", has the following theorem preceding the proof of Ado's theorem:

Theorem 2. Given a Lie algebra $L$ with semismiple part $A$, we can embed it into a new Lie algebra $L'$ with the following properties:

  1. $L'$ has the same semismiple part $A$ as $L$.
  2. The solvable radical of $L'$ is decomposed as $B' \oplus N'$, where $N'$ is the nilpotent radical of $L'$, $B'$ is an abelian Lie algebra acting by semisimple derivations, and $[A, B'] = 0$.
  3. $A \oplus B'$ is a subalgebra and $L' = (A \oplus B') \ltimes N'$.

With all of that, the idea is to first prove the refinement of Ado's theorem for $L'$. We need a particular refinement: Let $\tilde{A}$ be the maximal algebraic semisimple Lie group with Lie algebra $A$, and let $\tilde{B'}$ and $\tilde{N'}$ be the contractible Lie groups with Lie algebras $B'$ and $N'$. If we can find a closed embedding of $(\tilde{A} \times \tilde{B'}) \ltimes \tilde{N'}$ in a matrix group, then it will restrict to a closed embedding of the Lie subgroup of the original $L$.

In the proof of Ado's theorem that follows, the action of $N'$ is nilpotent, so the representation of $\tilde{N'}$ is closed and faithful. The Lie algebra $L'$ has a representation which is trivial on $B'$ and $N'$ and generates $\tilde{A}$. It has another representation which is trivial on $N'$ and $A$ and for which the action of $B'$ is nilpotent. If I have not made a mistake, the direct sum of these three representations is the desired representation of $L'$.

  • $\begingroup$ Greg, thank you for your answer! I didn't understand few things: 1. Why "then it will restrict to a closed embedding of the Lie subgroup of the original L."? 2. If we take direct sum of the three rep's, it looks like ~N' will normalize ~A x ~B', am I wrong? 3. Do we work over C here? It looks like the proof of Theorem 2 is given for complex case only. Is it crucial? $\endgroup$ – mathreader Dec 3 '09 at 4:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1. $L$ generates a closed subgroup $\tilde{L}$ of $\tilde{L'}$, and closed within closed is closed. 2. I don't understand what you're saying. The first summand is the most important one; in this summand $\tilde{N'}$ certainly does not normalize the other factors. 3. For the same reason that you can pass to $L'$, you can also pass to the complexification, so it should still work over the reals. $\endgroup$ – Greg Kuperberg Dec 3 '09 at 4:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.