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2012 Annual MSP Convention Parallel Session

Sum of Involutions Over a Field of Characteristic 2

Diane Christine P. Pelejo University of the Philippines Diliman

ABSTRACT

Let F be a ﬁeld with characteristic k. A matrix A M n (F) is said to be an involution if A 2 = I. It is known that an n-by-n matrix M over C can be written as a sum of two involutions if and only if M is similar to a matrix of the form

2I m + CD 2I k + DC S ⊕ −S N

for some nonsingular S; nilpotent N ; and matrices C M m,k (C) and D M k,m (C) such that CD , and consequently DC , is nilpotent. We look for conditions for a matrix over the ﬁeld Z 2 to be a sum of two involutions over Z 2 by looking at companion matrices of polynomials in Z 2 [x].

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EXTENDED ABSTRACT

Let F be a ﬁeld of characteristic two and denote the set of all n-by-n matrices with entries from F by M n (F). A matrix A M n (F) is said to be an involution (or an involutory matrix) if and only if A 2 = I. The goal of this study is to determine necessary and suﬃcient conditions for a matrix in M n (F) to be a sum of two involutions.

The following properties of involutions are useful.

1. Any matrix similar to an involution is also an involution. From this it follows that if a matrix is a sum of two involutions, then so is any matrix similar to it. It is then enough to look at canonical forms of matrices under matrix similarity to be able to characterize all sums of two involutions. In particular, any matrix in M n (F) is similar to its Rational Canonical Form (RCF).

2. The direct sum of two involutions is again an involution. Hence if A and B (not necessarily of the same size) are sums of two involutions, then their direct sum A B is also a sum of two involutions. Take note that the RCF of a matrix is a direct sum of companion matrices of some irreducible polynomials in F[x].

Deﬁnition

Given a monic polynomial p(x) = x n +

i

= 0 n1 a i x i

F[x], the companion matrix of p is deﬁned to be

C(p) =

0

1

0

.

.

.

0

0

0

1

.

···

.

.

.

0

0

0

.

0

.

···

···

···

.

1

.

.

a

a

a

0

1

2

.

a n1

M n (F)

Note that in the case when charF = 2, a = a for any a F .

3. An involution in M n (F), where F has characteristic two is similar to a

for some nonnegative integers j and

1

1

0

1

matrix of the form I j

k

2

k. Furthermore, the trace of an involution in M n (F), that is, the sum of its diagonal entries, is always equal to n (mod 2). Hence a sum of two involutions in M n (F) must have zero trace.

From a previous study, it has been known that an n-by-n matrix M , with entries from the ﬁeld of zero characteristic C, can be written as a sum of two involutions in M n (C) if and only if M is similar to a matrix of the form

2I m + CD 2I k + DC S ⊕ −S N

for some nonsingular S; nilpotent N ; and matrices C M m,k (C) and D M k,m (C) such that CD, and consequently DC, is nilpotent. It is therefore natural to ask if we can ﬁnd a similar result for the ﬁeld Z 2 , a ﬁeld of characteristic two.

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