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Math 741


Prof: Jordan Ellenberg

Grader: Evan Dummit. Homework policies:

* Late homework may be given directly to the grader, along with either (i) the instructor's permission, or (ii) a polite request for mercy.
* Assignments that are more than 1 page should be stapled/paperclipped/affixed in some reasonable way.
* If results from places other than this course and standard textbooks (e.g., from the internet) are used, they must be cited.

JE's office hours: Monday 12pm-1pm (right after class)

This course, the first semester of the introductory graduate sequence in algebra, will cover the basic theory of groups, group actions, representation, linear and multilinear algebra, and the beginnings of ring theory.


In this space we will record the theorems and definitions we covered each week, which we can use as a list of notions you should be prepared to answer questions about on the Algebra qualifying exam. The material covered on the homework is also an excellent guide to the scope of the course.


Definition of group. Associativity. Inverse.

Examples of group: GL_n(R). GL_n(Z). Z/nZ. R. Z. R^*. The free group F_k on k generators.

Homomorphisms. The homomorphisms from F_k to G are in bijection with G^k. Isomorphisms.


The symmetric group (or permutation group) S_n on n letters. Cycle decomposition of a permutation. Order of a permutation. Thm: every element of a finite group has finite order.

Subgroups. Left and right cosets. Lagrange's Theorem. Cyclic groups. The order of an element of a finite group is a divisor of the order of the group.

The sign homomorphism S_n -> +-1.


Normal subgroups. The quotient of a group by a normal subgroup. The first isomorphism theorem. Examples of S_n -> +-1 and S_4 -> S_3 with kernel V_4, the Klein 4-group.

Centralizers and centers. Abelian groups. The center of SL_n(R) is either 1 or +-1.

Groups with presentations. The infinite dihedral group <x,y | x^2 = 1, y^2 = 1>.


More on groups with presentations.

Second and third isomorphism theorems.

Semidirect products.


Group actions, orbits, and stabilizers.

Orbit-stabilizer theorem.

Cayley's theorem.

Cauchy's theorem.


Applications of orbit-stabilizer theorem (p-groups have nontrivial center, first Sylow theorem.)

Classification of finite abelian groups and finitely generated abelian groups.

Composition series and the Jordan-Holder theorem (which we state but don't prove.)

The difference between knowing the composition factors and knowing the group (e.g. all p-groups of the same order have the same composition factors.)


Simplicity of A_n.

Nilpotent groups (main example: the Heisenberg group)

Derived series and lower central series.

Category theory 101: Definition of category and functor. Some examples. A group is a groupoid with one object.


Introduction to representation theory.


Ring theory 101: Rings, ring homomorphisms, ideals, isomorphism theorems. Examples: fields, Z, the Hamilton quaternions, matrix rings, rings of polynomials and formal power series, quadratic integer rings, group rings. Integral domains. Maximal and prime ideals. The nilradical.

Module theory 101: Modules, module homomorphisms, submodules, isomorphism theorems. Noetherian modules and Zorn's lemma. Direct sums and direct products of arbitrary collections of modules.

HOMEWORK 1 (due Sep 16)

1. Suppose that H_1 and H_2 are subgroups of a group G. Prove that the intersection of H_1 and H_2 is a subgroup of G.

2. Recall that S_3 (the symmetric group) is the group of permutations of the set {1..3}. List all the subgroups of S_3.

3. We can define an equivalence relation on rational numbers by declaring two rational numbers to be equal whenever they differ by an integer. We denote the set of equivalence classes by Q/Z. The operation of addition makes Q/Z into a group.

a) For each n, prove that Q/Z has a subgroup of order n.

b) Prove that Q/Z is a divisible group: that is, if x is an element of Q/Z and n is an integer, there exists an element y of Q/Z such that ny = x. (Note that we write the operation in this group as addition rather than multiplication, which is why we write ny for the n-fold product of y with itself rather than y^n)

c) Prove that Q/Z is not finitely generated. (Hint: prove that if x_1, .. x_d is a finite subset of Q/Z, the subgroup of Q/Z generated by x_1, ... x_d is finite.)

d) Conclude that Q is not finitely generated.

4. We will prove that there is no homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z except the one which sends all of SL_2(Z) to 0. Suppose f is a homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z.

a) Let U1 be the upper triangular matrix with 1's on the diagonal and a 1 in the upper right hand corner, as in class, and let U2 be the transpose of U1, also as in class. Show that (U1 U2^{-1})^6 = identity (JING 1, TAO 0) and explain why this implies that f(U1) = f(U2).

b) Show that there is a matrix A in SL_2(Z) such that A U1 A^{-1} = U2^{-1}. (Recall that we say U1 and U2^{-1} are "conjugate".) Explain why this also implies that f(U1) = -f(U2).

c) Explain why a) and b) imply that f must be identically 0.

5. The argument above also shows that there is no nonzero homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z/pZ where p is a prime greater than 3. However, it leaves open the possibility that there is indeed a nonzero homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z/2Z. Exhibit such a homomorphism. Optional challenge problem: exhibit a nonzero homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z/3Z.

HOMEWORK 2 (due Sep 25)

1. Let V be the Klein 4-group in S_4. Let Q be the symmetric group on the set DF of double-flips in S_4; there are 3 double flips, so Q is isomorphic to S_3. If g is an element of S_4, we discussed in class that conjugation by g permutes the elements of DF. So to each element of g, we have associated an element f(g) of Q. More or less by definition, this defines a homomorphism f: G -> Q. Show that this homomorphism is surjective and has kernel H, and thus that G/H is isomorphic to Q.

2. Let F_2 be the free group on two generators, which we denote x,y. Prove that there is a automorphism of F_2 which sends x to xyx and y to xy, and prove that this automorphism is unique.

3. Let H be a subgroup of G, and let N_G(H), the normalizer of H in G, be the set of elements g in G satisfying g H g^{-1} = H. Prove that N_G(H) is a subgroup of G.

4. Let T be the subgroup of GL_2(R) consisting of diagonal matrices. This is an example of a "Cartan subgroup," or "torus" (whence the notation T.) Describe the normalizer N(T) of T in GL_2(R). Prove that there is a homomorphism from N(T) to Z/2Z whose kernel is precisely T.

5. Prove that the group of inner automorphisms of a group is normal in the full automorphism group Aut(G).

6. Let H and H' be subgroups of a group G, and let x be an element of G. We denote by HxH' the set of elements of the form hxh', with h in H and h' in H', and we call HxH a double coset of the pair (H,H').

a) Show that G decomposes as a disjoint union of double cosets of (H,H').

b) Let G be GL_2(R) and let B be the subgroup of upper triangular matrices. Prove that G decomposes into exactly two double cosets of (B,B). (This is an example of the so-called *Bruhat decomposition* which is of great importance in the theory of algebraic groups and their representations.)

c) Let G be the symmetric group S_n, and let H be the subgroup of permutations which fix 1. Describe the double coset decomposition of S_n into double cosets of (H,H).

HOMEWORK 3 (due Oct 2)

1. Compute the centralizer of the triple flip (12)(34)(56) in S_6. (Note: this is the kind of problem that a computer algebra package like sage is very good at, and I encourage you to learn to use sage well enough to check your answer.)

2. Warning: a normal subgroup of a normal subgroup need not be normal! Let H be the subgroup of S_4 generated by (12)(34). Then H is a subgroup of the Klein 4-group V_4, which we have already shown is normal in S_4. Show that H is normal in V_4, but H is not normal in S_4.

3. Let G be a group and let H_1 and H_2 be subgroups of G of finite index (that is, the number of cosets in G/H_i is finite, i = 1,2.) Prove that H_1 intersect H_2 also has finite index in G.

4. Let X be the set of lines in F_3^2 (here a line means a 1-dimensional linear subspace) so that |X| = 4. Let G be the projective linear group PGL_2(F_3), so that G acts on X via its action on F_3^2. This action can be thought of as a homomorphism from G to S_4. Show that this homomorphism is an ISOMORPHISM from PGL_2(F_3) to S_4.

5. We proved two theorems in class: Lagrange's theorem, which says that the order of a subgroup of G divides |G|, and Cauchy's theorem, which says that if p divides |G| then there exists a subgroup of G of order p. Cauchy's theorem is a kind of partial converse to Lagrange's theorem, but the full converse is false. Give an example of a finite group G and a divisor n of |G| such that you can prove there is no subgroup of G of order n.

6. The group S_3 has only three conjugacy classes. Prove that a finite group with at most three conjugacy classes has order at most 6.

7. Let X be the set of ordered triples of elements of {1,..,n}, for some n >= 3. Then S_n acts on X. How many orbits are there? (Hint: the answer does not depend on n.) OPTIONAL: How many orbits are there on the space of ordered k-tuples, when n >= k?