In Part I we discussed some conceptual proofs of the Sylow theorems. Two of those proofs involve reducing the existence of Sylow subgroups to the existence of Sylow subgroups of and respectively. The goal of this post is to understand the Sylow -subgroups of in more detail and see what we can learn from them about Sylow subgroups in general.

## Archive for the ‘math.GR’ Category

## Meditation on the Sylow theorems II

Posted in math, math.GR, tagged finite fields, fixed point theorems, group actions on November 2, 2020| Leave a Comment »

## Drawing subgroups of the modular group

Posted in math.AG, math.CT, math.GR, math.GT, tagged MaBloWriMo on November 29, 2015| 1 Comment »

Previously we learned how to count the finite index subgroups of the modular group . The worst thing about that post was that it didn’t include any pictures of these subgroups. Today we’ll fix that.

The pictures in this post can be interpreted in at least two ways. On the one hand, they are graphs of groups in the sense of Bass-Serre theory, and on the other hand, they are also dessin d’enfants (for the rest of this post abbreviated to “dessins”) in the sense of Grothendieck. But you don’t need to know that to draw and appreciate them.

## Conjugacy classes of finite index subgroups

Posted in math.CT, math.GR, tagged groupoids, MaBloWriMo on November 25, 2015| Leave a Comment »

Previously we learned how to count the number of finite index subgroups of a finitely generated group . But for various purposes we might instead want to count conjugacy classes of finite index subgroups, e.g. if we wanted to count isomorphism classes of connected covers of a connected space with fundamental group .

There is also a generating function we can write down that addresses this question, although it gives the answer less directly. It can be derived starting from the following construction. If is a groupoid, then , the **free loop space** or **inertia groupoid **of , is the groupoid of maps , where is the groupoid with one object and automorphism group . Explicitly, this groupoid has

- objects given by automorphisms of the objects , and
- morphisms given by morphisms in such that

.

It’s not hard to see that , so to understand this construction for arbitrary groupoids it’s enough to understand it for connected groupoids, or (up to equivalence) for groupoids with a single object and automorphism group . In this case, is the groupoid with objects the elements of and morphisms given by conjugation by elements of ; equivalently, it is the homotopy quotient or action groupoid of the action of on itself by conjugation.

In particular, when is finite, this quotient always has groupoid cardinality . Hence:

**Observation: **If is an essentially finite groupoid (equivalent to a groupoid with finitely many objects and morphisms), then the groupoid cardinality of is the number of isomorphism classes of objects in .

I promise this is relevant to counting subgroups!

## Projective representations are homotopy fixed points

Posted in math.CT, math.GR, tagged cohomology, MaBloWriMo on November 14, 2015| 2 Comments »

Yesterday we described how a (finite-dimensional) projective representation of a group functorially gives rise to a -linear action of on such that the Schur class classifies this action.

Today we’ll go in the other direction. Given an action of on explicitly described by a 2-cocycle , we’ll recover the category of -projective representations, or equivalently the category of modules over the twisted group algebra , by taking the homotopy fixed points of this action. We’ll end with another puzzle.

## Projective representations give categorical representations

Posted in math.CT, math.GR, tagged cohomology, group actions, MaBloWriMo on November 13, 2015| 1 Comment »

Today we’ll resolve half the puzzle of why the cohomology group appears both when classifying projective representations of a group over a field and when classifying -linear actions of on the category of -vector spaces by describing a functor from the former to the latter.

(There is a second half that goes in the other direction.)

## Projective representations

Posted in math.GR, tagged cohomology, MaBloWriMo on November 12, 2015| 2 Comments »

Three days ago we stated the following puzzle: we can compute that isomorphism classes of -linear actions of a group on the category of vector spaces over a field correspond to elements of the cohomology group

.

This is the same group that appears in the classification of projective representations of over , and we asked whether this was a coincidence.

Before answering the puzzle, in this post we’ll provide some relevant background information on projective representations.

## Fixed points of group actions on categories

Posted in math.CT, math.GR, math.NT, tagged cohomology, MaBloWriMo on November 11, 2015| 4 Comments »

Previously we described what it means for a group to act on a category (although we needed to slightly correct our initial definition). Today, as the next step in our attempt to understand Galois descent, we’ll describe what the fixed points of such a group action are.

John Baez likes to describe (vertical) categorification as *replacing equalities with isomorphisms*, which we saw on full display in the previous post: we replaced the equality with isomorphisms , and as a result we found 2-cocycles lurking in this story.

I prefer to describe categorification as *replacing properties with structures*, in the nLab sense. That is, the real import of what we just did is to replace the property (of a function between groups, say) that with the structure of a family of isomorphisms between and . The use of the term “structure” emphasizes, as we also saw in the previous post, that unlike properties, structures need not be unique.

Accordingly, it’s not surprising that being a fixed point of a group action on a category is also a structure and not a property. Suppose is a group action as in the previous post, and is an object. The structure of a fixed point, or more precisely a **homotopy fixed point**, is the data of a family of isomorphisms

which satisfy the compatibility condition that the two composites

and

are equal, as well as the unit condition that

where is the unit isomorphism . This is, in a sense we’ll make precise below, a 1-cocycle condition, but this time with nontrivial (local) coefficients.

Curiously, when the action is trivial (meaning both that and that ), this reduces to the definition of a group action of on in the usual sense. In general, we can think of homotopy fixed point structure as a “twisted” version of a group action on where the twist is provided by the group action on .

## Group actions on categories

Posted in math.CT, math.GR, tagged 2-categories, cohomology, MaBloWriMo on November 9, 2015| 13 Comments »

Yesterday we decided that it might be interesting to describe various categories as “fixed points” of Galois actions on various other categories, whatever that means: for example, perhaps real Lie algebras are the “fixed points” of a Galois action on complex Lie algebras. To formalize this we need a notion of group actions on categories and fixed points of such group actions.

So let be a group and be a category. For starters, we should probably ask for a functor for each . Next, we might naively ask for an equality of functors

but this is too strict: functors themselves live in a category (of functors and natural transformations), and so we should instead ask for natural isomorphisms

.

These natural isomorphisms should further satisfy the following compatibility condition: there are two ways to use them to write down an isomorphism , and these should agree. More explicitly, the composite

should be equal to the composite

.

(There’s also some stuff going on with units which I believe we can ignore here. I think we can just require that on the nose and nothing will go too horribly wrong.)

These natural isomorphisms can be regarded as a natural generalization of 2-cocycles, and the condition above as a natural generalization of a cocycle condition. Below the fold we’ll describe this and other aspects of this definition in more detail, and we’ll end with two puzzles about the relationship between this story and group cohomology.

## The puzzle of Galois descent

Posted in math.AG, math.GR, math.NT, tagged MaBloWriMo on November 8, 2015| 7 Comments »

Suppose we have a system of polynomial equations over a perfect (to keep things simple) field , and we’d like to consider solutions of it over various field extensions of . Write for the set of all solutions to this system over .

As it happens, knowing for any algebraic extension of is equivalent to knowing , where denotes the algebraic closure of , together with the action of the absolute Galois group . After picking an embedding of into , the infinite Galois correspondence says that is precisely the set of fixed points of the closed subgroup of which stabilizes , and it’s not hard to see that this extends to ; that is, naturally acts on , and we have a natural identification

.

Now let’s categorify this situation. Before we considered, for each algebraic extension of , a set . There are many situations in mathematics in which it’s natural to consider instead a *category* , such that a morphism induces a functor , and so forth. The basic example is the case that is the category of -vector spaces, and for a morphism the corresponding functor is given by extension of scalars

.

This leads to many other examples coming from equipping vector spaces with extra structure: for example, might be

- the category of representations of some finite group over ,
- the category of commutative (or associative, or Lie) algebras over , or
- the category of schemes over .

It would be great if understanding all of these categories was in some sense as simple as understanding the category , which generally tends to be simpler, and the action of the absolute Galois group on it, whatever that means. For example, the representation theory of finite groups over algebraically closed fields of characteristic zero is well understood, as is, say, the classification of semisimple Lie algebras. The general problem of trying to extract an understanding of from an understanding of is the problem of **Galois descent**.

We might very optimistically hope that the story here is directly analogous to the story above. This suggests the following puzzle.

**Puzzle:** In what sense could the statement be true for the examples given above?

## Hecke operators are also relative positions

Posted in math.GR, math.RT, tagged group actions, Hecke algebras, MaBloWriMo on November 7, 2015| Leave a Comment »

Continuing yesterday’s story about relative positions, let be a finite group and let and be finite -sets. Yesterday we showed that -orbits on can be thought of as “atomic relative positions” of “-figures” and “-figures” in some geometry with symmetry group , and further that if and are transitive -sets then these can be identified with double cosets .

Representation theory provides another interpretation of -orbits on as follows. First, if is any permutation representation, then the -fixed points have a natural basis given by summing over -orbits. (This is a mild categorification of Burnside’s lemma.) Next, consider the representations . Because is self-dual, we have

and hence has a natural basis given by summing over -orbits of the action on .

**Definition:** The -morphism associated to a -orbit of via the above isomorphisms is the **Hecke operator** associated to the -orbit (relative position, double coset).

Below the fold we’ll write down some details about how this works and see how we can use the idea that -morphisms between permutations have a basis given by Hecke operators to work out, quickly and cleanly, how some permutation representations decompose into irreducibles. At the end we’ll state another puzzle.