Linear representation
This article gives a basic definition in the following area: linear representation theory
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This article describes a notion of representation, or a group action on a certain kind of object.
View a complete list of types of representations
Definition
QUICK PHRASES: action of a group on a vector space, linear action, G-module, group action compatible with vector space structure
Let be a group and be a field. A linear representation or linear action of over can be defined in a number of ways, as outlined below. Each of these involves a vector space over .
Definition as a homomorphism
A linear representation of over homomorphism where is a vector space over and denotes the general linear group of , viz the group of automorphisms of as a -vector space.
A linear representation is typically described by the pair where is the vector space and is the homomorphism. Sometimes, we simply talk of as the representation.
Definition as a group action
A linear representation of over is a group action (where is a vector space over ) such that the permutation of induced by any element of is a linear map. Explicitly, we want that:
- Group action:
- Commutes with scalar multiplication:
- Additivity:
Definition as a module over a group ring
Let denote the group ring of over the field . A representation of over is then, a left -module . In other words is a vector space over , with a -action such that the action gives rise to a -module structure.
In this language, we sometimes talk of as a -module and hence simply describe the representation as being , with the action implicit in the way is given a -module structure.
Definition as a homomorphism from the group ring to endomorphisms of a vector space
Let denote the group ring of over the field . A representation of over is then, a vector space over , and a homomorphism of -algebras from to the endomorphism algebra of .
Equivalence of definitions
Further information: Equivalence of definitions of linear representation
Equivalence of representations
Equivalence in the language of group homomorphisms
As per the first definition, two representations and of a group are said to be equivalent linear representations if there is an isomorphism such that .
When , this is equivalent to demanding that there exists a such that , in other words, that and differ by an inner automorphism of .
Equivalence in the language of modules
Two linear representations of over are equivalent if the corresponding -modules are isomorphic as -modules: in other words, there is a vector space isomorphism between them that preserves the -action.
Equivalence in the language of algebra homomorphisms
Two linear representations of over , say and , are equivalent, if there is an isomorphism such that for any , we have:
Equivalence of equivalence notions
Further information: Equivalence of definitions of linear representation
Constructions
Direct sum
Further information: direct sum of linear representations Let and be two representations of a group . Then the direct sum of these is defined as follows:
- The vector space for it is
- The action is: .
In other words, it acts on each vector space separately.
Tensor product
Further information: tensor product of linear representations Let and be two representations of a group . The tensor product of these is defined as follows:
- The vector space for it is
- The action is such that
Dual space
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Trivial representation
Every group has a trivial repreesntation on any vector space: the representation where every element of the group acts as the identity on every vector. We typically use the term trivial representation for the trivial one-dimensional representation: the trivial representation on a one-dimensional space.
Finite-dimensional representations
Further information: finite-dimensional linear representation
A representation is termed finite-dimensional if the vector space is finite-dimensional. When the vector space is finite-dimensional, we can choose a basis for the vector space and hence write the image of every element of as a matrix in that basis.
There are some properties of automorphisms of linear transformations over finite-dimensional vector spaces that are easily computed from the matrix, but are in fact independent of the choice of basis. The most important among these are the coefficients of the characteristic polynomial. In particular, there is a notion of trace (which is the sum of the diagonal entries) and the determinant.
Trace leads to the notion of character of a representation. Given a representation where is a finite-dimensional vector space, the character of , denoted as is defined as the map from to that sends to . The character is a special kind of class function (a class function being a function on the group that takes the same value within every conjugacy class).
Invariant subspaces and irreducible representations
Further information: irreducible linear representation Given a representation of a group , an invariant subspace is a subspace such that takes to for every .
A representation is termed irreducible if it has no proper nontrivial invariant subspace (that is, the only invariant subspace is the zero subspace or the whole space).
A representation is termed completely reducible if it is expressible as a direct sum of irreducible representations.
Decomposition of representations
Further information: indecomposable linear representation A direct sum decomposition of a linear representation is an expression of the linear representation as a direct sum of linear representations. A linear representation is said to be direct sum-indecomposable if for any direct sum decomposition of the representation, one of the summands is the zero-dimensional representation.
Note that any irreducible representation is direct sum-indecomposable, but the converse may not be true. In fact, the converse is true provided that every representation is completely reducible.