# Tour:Equivalence of definitions of subgroup

**This article adapts material from the main article:** Equivalence of definitions of subgroup

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PREREQUISITES: The two definitions of subgroup in terms of closure only under the binary operation, versus closure under all the operations.WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

- Read the statement of the two equivalent definitions of the subgroup.
- In light of what we've just seen, try to prove that the definitions are equivalent.
- Compare your proof against the proof given here.
PONDER: Which of the two definitions of subgroup is the morenaturalandcorrectone?

## Contents

## The two definitions we have to prove as equivalent

### Definition in terms of closure under binary operation

This definition of subgroup corresponds to the textbook definition of group.

Let be a group. A subset of is termed a **subgroup** if the following two conditions hold:

- Whenever belong to , the product belongs to .
- With this induced multiplication, becomes a group in its own right (i.e., it has an identity element, and every element has a two-sided inverse).

### The universal algebraic definition

This definition of subgroup corresponds to the universal algebraic definition of group.

Let be a group. A subset of is termed a **subgroup** if all the three conditions below are satisfied:

- Whenever belong to , so does (here denotes the product of the two elements)
- Whenever belongs to , so does (the multiplicative inverse of )
- belongs to (where denotes the identity element)

## Facts used

## Generalizations

The result fails to generalize to monoids. In other words, a subset of a monoid that is closed under multiplication may contain a neutral element (identity element) that is *not* equal to the neutral element for the whole monoid. Two counterexamples are below.

### 0 and 1 example

Let be the monoid with usual multiplication of real numbers. Let be the subset . Then, is a monoid in its own right with the multiplication inherited from and has identity element 0. However, it does not contain the identity element 1 of .

### Direct product example

- is the monoid of ordered pairs of integers, under coordinate-wise multiplication.
- is the subset comprising pairs of the form .

Then, the identity element in is while that in is .

The problem here is the lack of cancellativity of elements of the form .

## Proof

The proof relies on showing the following two things:

- If a nonempty subset of the group is closed under the binary operation and contains an identity element for that binary operation, then the identity element of the subgroup must be equal to that of the group.
- If every element has an inverse in the subset, then that inverse must equal its inverse in the whole group.

### Proof that identity elements are equal

*Given*: A group with identity element , a nonempty subset with such that for all

*To prove*:

*Proof*: In a group, every element is invertible, hence every element is cancellative. Pick any . Then:

Since is cancellative, we get:

as desired.

### Proof that the inverse operation in the subgroup is the same as in the whole group

We have shown that the identity element in the subgroup is the same as that in the whole group, so the condition for being a two-sided inverse in the subgroup is the same as that in the whole group. By Fact (2), the two-sided inverse in the whole group is unique, forcing the two operations to agree.

### Note on maintenance of associativity, identity, and inverses

This is a minor note about one way in which the textbook definition seems to be somewhat more stringent than the universal algebra definition. The textbook definition states that the multiplication restricted to the subset gives a group structure, and we know that this includes associativity. The universal algebra definition does not include any postulate about associativity in the subset. However, this is a non-issue, because associativity holds in the whole group, hence it also holds when we restrict variables to the subset.

This page is part of the Groupprops guided tour for beginners. Make notes of any doubts, confusions or comments you have about this page before proceeding.PREVIOUS: Invertible implies cancellative|UP: Introduction two (beginners)|NEXT: Associative binary operation