Minimal normal subgroup

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This article is about a standard (though not very rudimentary) definition in group theory. The article text may, however, contain more than just the basic definition
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This article defines a subgroup property: a property that can be evaluated to true/false given a group and a subgroup thereof, invariant under subgroup equivalence. View a complete list of subgroup properties[SHOW MORE]


Symbol-free definition

A nontrivial subgroup of a group is termed a minimal normal subgroup if it is normal and the only normal subgroup properly contained inside it is the trivial subgroup.

Definition with symbols

A nontrivial subgroup H of a group G is termed a minimal normal subgroup if it is normal and for any normal subgroup K of G such that K \le H, either K=H or K is trivial.


In terms of the minimal operator

This property is obtained by applying the minimal operator to the property: nontrivial normal subgroup
View other properties obtained by applying the minimal operator


  • In the group \mathbb{Z} of integers, there are no minimal normal subgroups. That's because every number is a factor of some bigger number.
  • In the group of integers mod n, i.e. the cyclic group of order n, there is a unique minimal normal subgroup of order p for each prime divisor p of n.
  • In the symmetric group on three letters, the cyclic subgroup of order three (generated by a 3-cycle) is a minimal normal subgroup. The cyclic subgroup of order two is not a normal subgroup.
  • In a nilpotent group, any minimal normal subgroup must actually be a minimal subgroup (i.e. it must be cyclic of prime order), that's because in a nilpotent group, any nontrivial normal subgroup intersects the center nontrivially.
  • The subgroup comprising double transpositions and the identity, inside the symmetric group on four letters, is an example of a minimal normal subgroup that is not minimal as a subgroup (i.e., it contains proper nontrivial subgroups). This subgroup is abstractly isomorphic to the Klein four-group.

Relation with other properties

Stronger properties

Related notions


General facts

Facts in certain kinds of ambient groups

Statement Condition on ambient group Conclusion about minimal normal subgroup
Minimal normal implies elementary abelian in finite solvable group finite solvable group elementary abelian group, i.e., a direct product of one or more copies of a group of prime order.
Minimal normal implies additive group of a field in solvable group solvable group additive group of a field (either an elementary abelian group or a vector space over the rationals)
Minimal normal implies central in nilpotent group nilpotent group central subgroup. Further, we can conclude that it is a group of prime order, because central implies normal, so any minimal normal subgroup in the center must be a minimal subgroup, and hence cyclic of prime order.
Minimal normal implies contained in Omega-1 of center for nilpotent p-group, or equivalently, socle equals Omega-1 of center in nilpotent p-group nilpotent p-group; finite p-groups are always nilpotent, so any group of prime power order contained in the first omega subgroup of the center.
Minimal normal implies pi-group or pi'-group in pi-separable group pi-separable group either a \pi-group (all prime factors from the prime set \pi) or a \pi'-group (all prime factors from outside the prime set \pi).

Additional conditions and conclusions

Statement Additional condition Conclusion
minimal normal subgroup with order not dividing index is characteristic, minimal normal subgroup with order greater than index is characteristic the order of the subgroup does not divide its index it is a characteristic subgroup
normality-large and minimal normal implies monolith normality-large subgroup: intersection with every nontrivial normal subgroup is normal monolith, i.e., it is contained in every nontrivial normal subgroup, so the group is a monolithic group
self-centralizing and minimal normal implies monolith (this follows from the previous fact and the fact that self-centralizing and normal implies normality-large) self-centralizing subgroup: contains its own centralizer in the whole group monolith, i.e., it is contained in every nontrivial normal subgroup, so the group is a monolithic group

Other facts


GAP command

This subgroup property can be tested using built-in functionality of Groups, Algorithms, Programming (GAP).
The GAP command for listing all subgroups with this property is:MinimalNormalSubgroups
View subgroup properties testable with built-in GAP command|View subgroup properties for which all subgroups can be listed with built-in GAP commands | View subgroup properties codable in GAP
Learn more about using GAP


Textbook references

  • Finite Group Theory (Cambridge Studies in Advanced Mathematics) by Michael Aschbacher, ISBN 0521786754More info, Page 25 (definition in paragraph, immediately suceeding definition of characteristically simple group)
  • Groups and representations by Jonathan Lazare Alperin and Rowen B. Bell, ISBN 0387945261More info, Page 93 (definition in paragraph)
  • Abstract Algebra by David S. Dummit and Richard M. Foote, 10-digit ISBN 0471433349, 13-digit ISBN 978-0471433347More info, Page 106 (no definition given; term implicitly introduced in exercises)