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4 629 Subgroups

subgroups of various symmetry groups.

Introduction

Recall the six symmetries of an equilateral triangle; the identity map, three

flips about the midlines through the vertices of the triangle, and two

(counterclockwise) rotations of 120 and 240 degrees.

Figure 1

This set, along with the group operation of composition, forms a self-

contained algebraic system called a group. It is distinguished by the fact the

group operation is closed and the group contains an identity (do nothing

operation), and every element in the group has an inverse. But this group is

only the outside of the shell, inside there may be smaller groups. For

example, in the dihedral group D3 of six symmetries of an equilateral triangle,

consider the subset of three rotational symmetries, the identity map e and the

two rotations of 120 and 240 degrees. The Cayley table for these symmetries

{e, R120 , R240 } is drawn in Figure 2, which can easily be verified to form a

group. The group operation is closed (i.e. the product of two elements

belongs to the group), e is the identity, and each element has an inverse.

Section 6.4 630 Subgroups

Figure 2

subgroups.

forms a group with the same operation ∗ , then H is called a subgroup of G .

If H is neither the identity {e} nor the entire group G , which are groups

called trivial subgroups of G , then H is called a proper subgroup of G.

Example 1 (Subgroups

(Subgroups of Symmetries of an Equilateral Triangle)

Find the proper subgroups of the dihedral group D3 the symmetries of

an equilateral triangle.

equilateral triangle and its proper subgroups are displayed in Figure 3. There

are four proper subgroups of D3 ; the rotational subgroup {e, R120 , R240 } of order

3 and three “flip” subgroups {e, Fv } , {e, Fne } , {e, Fnw } , each of order 2.

Section 6.4 631 Subgroups

e e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw e e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw

R120 R120 R240 e Fne Fnw Fv R120 R120 R240 e Fne Fnw Fv

R240 R240 e R120 Fnw Fv Fne R240 R240 e R120 Fnw Fv Fne

Fv Fv Fnw Fne e R240 R120 Fv Fv Fnw Fne e R240 R120

Fne Fne Fv Fnw R120 e R240 Fne Fne Fv Fnw R120 e R240

Fnw Fnw Fne Fv R240 R120 e Fnw Fnw Fne Fv R240 R120 e

H1 = {e, Fv } Flip around vertical axis H 2 = {e, Fnw } Flip around the northwest axis

∗ e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw ∗ e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw

e e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw e e R120 R240 Fv Fne Fnw

R120 R120 R240 e Fne Fnw Fv R120 R120 R240 e Fne Fnw Fv

R240 R240 e R120 Fnw Fv Fne R240 R240 e R120 Fnw Fv Fne

Fv Fv Fnw Fne e R240 R120 Fv Fv Fnw Fne e R240 R120

Fne Fne Fv Fnw R120 e R240 Fne Fne Fv Fnw R120 e R240

Fnw Fnw Fne Fv R240 R120 e Fnw Fnw Fne Fv R240 R120 e

H 3 = {e, Fne } Flip around the northeast axis. H 4 = {e, R120 , R240 } Identity and two rotations

Figure 3

We let the reader verify that each of these subgroups satisfy the necessary

requirements to be groups. See Problem 1.

Proper Subgroups

Subgroups of the Klein 4-

4-Group

Recall from Section 6.1 that the group of (rotational and reflective)

symmetries of a rectangle form a group, called the Klein 4-group, with

elements G = {e, R180 , H , V } , where as always " e " denotes the group identity,

R180 a rotation of 180 degrees, and H ,V flips around the horizontal and

vertical midlines, respectively. Figure 4 shows the Cayley table of the

symmetries of a rectangle and its three proper subgroups, all of order 2.

Note how the order of the subgroups always divides the order of the group.

We will not prove it here but this is a fundamental property was one of the

first fundamental theorems proven in group theory and is called Lagrange’s

theorem, after the great French/Italian mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange

(1736-1813).

Section 6.4 632 Subgroups

∗ e R180 H V

∗ e R180 H V

e e R180 H V

e e R180 H V

R180 R180 e V H

R180 R180 e V H

H H V e R180

H H V e R180

V V H R180 e

V V H R180 e

a rectangle. the horizontal midline.

∗ e R180 H V ∗ e R180 H V

e e R180 H V e e R180 H V

R180 R180 e V H R180 R180 e V H

H H V e R180 H H V e R180

V V H R180 e V V H R180 e

the horizontal midline. H = {e, R180 } .

Figure 4

Test of Subgroups

Subgroups

Although a subset H of a group G is a group only if it satisfies the four

axioms of a group; i.e.. Closure, Associativity, Identity, Inverse, the fact that

H is a subset of G , it is only necessary to verify that the group operation ∗

is closed in H and that every element of H has an inverse in H . There is no

need to show the existence of an identity; the identity in the larger group G is

also an identity in the subgroup H , This result is summarized in the following

theorem.

Section 6.4 633 Subgroups

operation ∗ and H a nonempty subset of G . The set H with operation ∗ is

a subgroup ( H , ∗) of ( G , ∗) if the following two conditions hold:

Proof:

Since ∗ is a binary operation on G , it is also a binary operation on the

subset H , and by assumption i) we know ∗ maps H × H into H . Next, the

associative law ( a ∗ b ) ∗ c = a ∗ ( b ∗ c ) holds for all a, b, c ∈ H since H is a

subset of G and we know it holds for all a, b, c ∈ G . We now ask if the identity

e ∈ G also belongs to H and is the identity of H ? The answer is yes since

by picking an h ∈ H we know by hypothesis ii) there exists a h −1 ∈ H , and by

closure h ∗ h −1 = e ∈ H . Hence, we have verified the four properties required

for a group: closure, associativity, identity, and inverse. Hence H is a group.

▌

integers with the binary operation of addition + . Show the even integers

2 = {0, ± 2, ± 4,... } is a subgroup of G .

Solution

We observe that + is closed binary operation in 2 since if

m = 2k1 , n = 2k2 are even integers, so is their sum m + n = 2 ( k1 + k2 ) ∈ 2 .

Secondly, every even integer 2k ∈ 2 has an inverse, namely

−2k = 2 ( −k ) ∈ 2 . ▌

Note: The order of any subgroup of a group is a divisor of the group, and if the

order of the subgroup is a prime number then there will be a subgroup of that order.

Hence, there is not a subgroup of order 9 of a subgroup of order 30, and there

might be a subgroup of order 15, and there is a subgroup of order 5.

Section 6.4 634 Subgroups

plane 2 where the group operation + : × → is coordinate wise addition

2

of points ( a, b ) + ( c, d ) = ( a + c, b + d ) . We leave it to the reader to show , + ( )

is a group. Show that the x -axis H = {( x, 0 ) : x ∈ } is a subgroup of ( , +) .

2

Solution

since

( x1 , 0 ) ∈ H , ( x2 , 0 ) ∈ H ⇒ ( x1 + x2 , 0 ) ∈ H

2

which is the group identity in ▌

In general it is not a simple task to find all subgroups of a group, but for

cyclic groups it is an easy task.

Example 4 (Subgroups

(Subgroups of the Dihedral Group D4 ) Figure 5 shows the dihedral

group D4 of eight symmetries of a square, also called the octic group.

and Fne R270 .

b) There are several subsets of the eight symmetries that form a group

in their own right. These are called subgroups of the octic group. Can you

find all ten of them?

Solution

a) The reader can check but R270 Fne ≠ Fne R270 . Hence, the octic group is

not commutative.

{e} , {e,V } , {e, H } ,{e, Fnw} , {e, Fne } , {e, R180 } , {e, R180 ,V , H } , {e, R180 , Fnw , Fne }

Section 6.4 635 Subgroups

No motion e = R0

Rotate 90

R90

Counterclockwise

Rotate 180

R180

Counterclockwise

Rotate 270

R270

Counterclockwise

Horizontal flip H

Vertical flip V

Section 6.4 636 Subgroups

Symmetries of a Square

Figure 5

ordered set with ordering set inclusion, which can be illustrated in a Hasse

diagram as shown in Figure 6. The group D4 is itself a subgroup of the group

S 4 of permutations of four elements.

Figure 6

Note: The two groups and are subsets of and under the same operation

of addition, hence both are subgroups of .

generated by a single element in the group. That is, there exists a g ∈ Z

such that

Section 6.4 637 Subgroups

set g generated by g . This set may or may not be all of Z n , but it will be a

subgroup of Z n . We then move on to a new h ∈ Z n that is not in g and

compute the set h generated by h . Continuing in this manner we will

eventually obtain all subgroups of Z n . For example to apply this technique to

the group

Z12 = {0,1, 2,3, 4,5,6, 7,8, 9,10,11}

where the group operation is addition modulo 12, where the group operation is

addition modulo 12. If we start taking “powers” of g = 1 , we get (remember

powers are really adding 1)

which has generated the entire group 12 . On the other hand the element

g = 2 generates the subgroup 2 = {0, 2, 4, 6,8 } ⊆ G . Figure 7 shows the

subgroups generated by g = 1, 2,3, 4 . Do you see why 5 = 12 and

6 = {0, 6} .

1 = 12 = {0,1, 2,...,11} 2 = {0, 2, 4, 6,8,10}

Section 6.4 638 Subgroups

3 = {0,3, 6,9} 4 = {0, 4,8}

Figure 7

Table 1 shows the subgroups generated by each element of the group and the

order of the subgroup generated by the generator.

1 = 12 ( 12

12 1 = 0 )

2 = {0, 2, 4, 6,8,10} (

6 26 = 0 )

4 (3 = 0)

4

3 = {0,3, 6,9}

3 ( 4 = 0)

3

4 = {0, 4,8}

12 ( 5 = 0 )

12

5 = 12

2 (6 = 0)

2

6 = {0, 6}

12 ( 7 = 0 )

12

7 = 12

3 (8 = 0 )

3

8 = {0, 4,8}

4 ( 9 = 0)

4

9 = {0, 3, 6,9}

6 (10 = 0 )

6

10 = {0, 2, 4, 6,8,10}

12 (11 = 0 )

12

11 = 12

Table 1

Section 6.4 639 Subgroups

Note: You may have noticed that the order of the subgroups seems to

always divide the order of the group. This is not a coincidence. The order of

a subgroup always divides the order of a group. For example a group of order

11 will only have the trivial subgroups of the group itself and the identity

subgroup. On the other hand the groups of order 6 we have seen (cyclic

group of order six and the dihedral group D3 of symmetries of an equilateral

triangle both have subgroups of order 2 and 3.

equilateral triangle generated by R120 .

Solution

Starting with R120 and the identity e = R0 we form the set {R0 , R120 } after

2

which we compute R120 = R240 . Since this is not in {R0 , R120 } we include it,

3

getting {R0 , R120 , R240 } . We now compute the next power R 120 = R0 in which case

we stop, getting the subgroup R120 = {R0 , R120 , R240 } of rotations of D3 .

Solution

Systematically trying different generators, we find the 8 subgroups.

2 = {0, 2, 4, 6} (order 4)

3 = {0, 3, 6,1, 4, 7, 2,5} = 8 (order 8)

4 = {0, 4} (order 2)

5 = {0,5, 2, 7, 4,1, 6, 3} = 8 (order 8)

6 = {0, 6, 4, 2} (order 4)

7 = {0, 7, 6,5, 4,3, 2,1} = 8 (order 8)

8 = {0} (order 1)

Hence, the four subgroups of Z 8 are {{0},{0, 4},{0, 2, 4, 6},{0,1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7}}

under the same addition and multiplication mod 8 as Z 8 .

Section 6.4 640 Subgroups

Problems,

Problems, Section 6.4, Subgroups

1. (True or False)

a) The order of any subgroup always divides the order of the group.

Ans: true

group.

Ans:

Ans true

Ans:

Ans false, the identity alone is a subgroup

Ans: true

Ans: true, the identity and the group itself are both subgroups of S 2

Ans: false, the subsets must contain the identity element and some subsets fo

not.

where e denotes the identity map, and h is the horizontal flip.

Ans: yes

Ans:

Ans yes, and you should be able to envision them

elements of the group. What is the order of each generator?

Ans:

Section 6.4 641 Subgroups

1 = 6 order 6

2 = {0, 2, 4} order 3

3 = {0, 3} order 2

4 = {0, 2, 4} order 3

5 = 6 order 6

3. Find the Cayley table for the subgroup {e, R180 , v, h} of the group of

symmetries of a square.

Ans:

* e R180 v h

e e R180 v h

R180 R180 e h v

v v h e R180

h h v R180 e

4. Show that the group defined by the following Cayley table is a subgroup of

S3 .

∗ ( ) (123) (132 )

( ) ( ) (123) (132 )

(123) (123) (132 ) ( )

(132 ) (132 ) ( ) (123)

H = {( ) , (123) , (132 )} is closed under the operation *, and that each member of

H has an inverse. Clearly the operation * is closed since the table consists of

these members. Also, (123) and (132 ) are inverses of each other, and of

course the inverse of the identity ( ) is itself.

5. (Subgroup Geneated by R240 ) Find the subgroup of the dihedral group D3

of symmetries of an equilateral triangle generated by R240 .

Section 6.4 642 Subgroups

{e, R180 , v, h} of symmetries of a rectangle, find the subgroups generated by

each element in the group. What is the order of each member?

Ans:

v = {e, v} v has order 2

h = {e, h} h has order 2

elements of the group that commute with all elements of the group. That is

Z ( G ) = { g ∈ G : gx = xg for all x ∈ G}

It can be shown that the center of any group is a subgroup of the group. Find

the center of the group of symmetries of a rectangle. Note: The center of a

group is never empty since the identity element of a group always commutes

with every element of the group. The question is, are there other elements

that commute with every element of the group.

of a rectangle; i.e. the Klein 4-group.

Ans:

Section 6.4 643 Subgroups

1 = {1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 0} = 8

2 = {2, 4, 6, 0}

3 = {3, 6,1, 4, 7, 2,5} = 8

4 = {4, 0}

5 = {5, 2, 7, 4,1, 6, 3, 0} = 8

6 = {6, 4, 2, 0}

7 = {7, 6,5, 4,3, 2,1, 0} = 8

10. 11. (Subgroups of 11 ) Find the subgroups of the cyclic group 11 .

Section 6.4 644 Subgroups

are the trivial group {0} and 11 . Also, the order of the subgroup divides the

order of the group and since 11 has order 11 and the only two numbers that

divide 11 are 1 and 11.

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