The Chevalley group is a way, uniform over all fields (and commutative rings), to define a split simple algebraic group of a given type.
The theory was clarified by the theory of algebraic groups, and the work of Chevalley (1955) on Lie algebras, by means of which the Chevalley group concept was isolated. Chevalley constructed a Chevalley basis (a sort of integral form) for all the complex simple Lie algebras (or rather of their universal enveloping algebras), which can be used to define the corresponding algebraic groups over the integers. In particular, he could take their points with values in any finite field. For the Lie algebras An, Bn, Cn, Dn this gave well known classical groups, but his construction also gave groups associated to the exceptional Lie algebras E6, E7, E8, F4, and G2. The ones of type G2 (sometimes called Dickson groups) had already been constructed by Dickson (1905), and the ones of type E6 by Dickson (1901).
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