CHAPTER 4

The Sylow Theorems
Lagrange’s Theorem says that if H is a subgroup of a finite group G then |H| divides |G|. The converse is false: if G is a finite group and m is a number which divides |G| then it is not necessarily true that G has a subgroup of order m. For example, A5 has order 60 which is divisible by 15 and yet it can be shown that A5 has no subgroups of order 15. The Sylow theorems provide a partial converse to Lagrange’s theorem. In particular, Sylow proved that if m divides |G| and m is a power of a prime number then G has a subgroup of order m. The Sylow theorems also give useful information about the number of such subgroups. For example, if G is a group of order 60 then G always has at least one subgroup of order 4 and the number of subgroups of order 4 is 1, 3, 5 or 15. Here is another example. If G has order 168 then the Sylow theorems tell us that G has subgroups of all the following orders: 1 2 3 4 7 8. These are the only prime powers which divide 168. For other numbers such as 21 which are factors of 168 it is not immediately clear whether there is or is not a subgroup of corresponding order. p-groups D EFINITION 4.1. Let p be a prime. A group G of a group is called a p-group if every element g of G has order pm for some m = m(g) ≥ 0.

L EMMA 4.2 (Corollary of Lagrange’s and Cauchy’s Theorem). Let p be a prime. A finite group G is a p-group if and only if G has order pn for some n ≥ 0.

P ROOF. Suppose that G is a finite p-group. If q is any prime dividing the order of G then G contains an element of order q by Cauchy’s theorem. Therefore q = p. This shows that p is the only prime which can divide |G|. Therefore |G| = pn for some n ≥ 0. Conversely suppose that G has order pn for some n ≥ 0. Let g be any element of G. Let r be the order of g. The cyclic subgroup g has order r and so r divides pn by Lagrange’s theorem. Therefore r is a power of p. (Theorem 4.2 1 ). Every non-trivial finite p-group has non-trivial centre. 2 Groups of order pn for n ≤ 3

T HEOREM 4.3. Let p be a prime and let Cpn denote a cyclic group of order pn . (i) Every group of order p is cyclic and so isomorphic to Cp .
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[Hint: 3420 is divisible by 19. Therefore. E XERCISE 4.5. L EMMA 4. is isomorphic to one of the groups (iv) If G is a non-abelian group of order p3 then ζ (G) ∼ Cp and G/ζ (G) ∼ Cp ×Cp . A subgroup H of G is called a Sylow p-subgroup if and only if H is a p-group and |G : H| is not divisible by p. Then PQ is also a p-subgroup. Suppose that Q normalizes P. with p = 2 we have the expression and we see that 22 is the largest power of 2 which divides 60. Since Q normalizes P we know that PQ is a subgroup. Let G be a group and let P and Q be p-subgroups. The factor s is called the p -part of n. . = = D EFINITION 4.8. E XAMPLE 4. To find this form you need to factorize n into a product of primes.34 4. Cp ×Cp2 Cp3 . (v) 7! has the factorization 7 · 6 · 5 · 4 · 3 · 2 · 1 and from this we can see that 32 is the largest power of 3 which divides 7!. P ROOF.6. (ii) If G is a group of order 60 then every Sylow 2-subgroup has order 4. Let G be a finite group and let p be a prime which divides the order of G.4. (i) Find the prime factorization of 3420. Now |PQ| = |P| · |Q| and |P ∩ Q| 168 = 23 · 21 60 = 22 · 15 so PQ is a p-group. Note that if n is a natural number and p is a prime which divides n then there is a unique way to write n in the form pm s where m and s are natural numbers such that p | s. (iv) What is the order of a Sylow 3 subgroup of S9 ? The Statement and Proof of the Sylow Theorems We need two lemmas in order to prove the Sylow theorems. (iv) If G is a group of order 168 then every Sylow 2-subgroup of G has order 8. R EMARK 4. (vi) Every Sylow 3-subgroup of the symmetric group S7 has order 9. (i) 60 has the prime factorization 2 · 2 · 3 · 5.7. (iii) 168 has the prime factorization 23 · 3 · 7 and therefore we have the expression and we see that 23 is the largest power of 2 which divides 168. THE SYLOW THEOREMS (ii) Every group of order p2 is abelian and is isomorphic to one of the two groups (iii) Every abelian group of order Cp ×Cp ×Cp Cp ×Cp p3 Cp2 .] (ii) If G is a group of order 3420 what is the order of a Sylow 19-subgroup of G? (iii) Find the largest power of 3 which divides 9!.

First note that for all X ∈ X . p | |X |.THE STATEMENT AND PROOF OF THE SYLOW THEOREMS 35 L EMMA 4. r|s where s is the p -part of the order of G. T HEOREM 4. Every Sylow p-subgroup of G is conjugate to P. Let X be the set pm of all subsets of G with exactly pm elements. Let G be a finite group and let p be a prime which divides |G|. Choose X ∈ X such that From this together with the first displayed fact it follows that This shows that there is at least one Sylow p-subgroup. Then n p | .. (iii) Every p-subgroup of G is contained in a Sylow p-subgroup of G. For now.10 (The Sylow Theorems). Then (i) G has at least one Sylow p-subgroup. if p divides |G| for some ≥ 0 then G has a subgroup of order p . m . Let n be a natural number and let p be a prime which divides n. · · pm p − 1 p − 2 p −i 3 2 1 and observe that in each fraction the power of p in the denominator exactly matches the power of p in the numerator. Then G acts on X by left multiplication. pm P ROOF.9 (Wielandt’s Observation). Now we are in a position to state and prove the Sylow Theorems. The second displayed fact tells us that there is an orbit whose size is not divisible by p. (ii) More generally. (v) The number r of Sylow p-subgroups of G satisfies and in addition r ≡ 1 (mod p). |GX | = pm . (ii) We postpone the proof of this part. . Write n = pm s where p | s. (i) Let pm be the largest power of p which divides |G|.. (iv) Let P be a Sylow p-subgroup of G. notice that • if = 0 then p = 1 and the claim is true for the trivial subgroup of G.. G P ROOF. • if = 1 then p = p and the claim is true by Cauchy’s theorem. We also know that | stabG (X)| ≤ pm . Write out the binomial coefficient like this: pm s pm s − 1 pm s − 2 pm s − i pm s − pm + 3 pm s − pm + 2 pm s − pm + 1 · m · m . p | |OX |..

P ROOF. Let g P be an element in an orbit of size 1. Then G is a non-trivial p-group and therefore it has non-trivial centre. Show that r is equal to 1 or 20. (v) Moreover g P is clearly the only orbit of size 1.13. We proceed by induction on the order of G. Let G be a group of order 3420. A permutation representation of G of degree n is a homomorphism from G to Sn . Hence g PQ = g P and so Q ⊆ g P. E XERCISE 4. Z contains a subgroup K of order p. If G has order pn then the quotient group G/K is defined and it has order pn−1 . (i) Let r be the number of Sylow 19 subgroups of G. Let G be a group. (iii) Let P be a Sylow p-subgroup. By induction G/K has subgroups of every possible order p j with 0 ≤ j ≤ n − 1. Note that p | r. . namely {e} and G. . Let G be a finite p-group. Since Z is central. A group is said to be simple if and only if it has exactly two normal subgroups. So there is an orbit of size 1.14. Permutation Representations D EFINITION 4. Simple groups D EFINITION 4.12. If |G| = 1 there is nothing to prove. a subgroup of order p j is of the form H/K where H is some subgroup of G containing K and so H has order p j+1 . . Therefore r ≡ 1 (mod p). What about part (ii) of the Sylow theorems? It suffices to prove the following: L EMMA 4. There must be an orbit whose order is not divisible by p. Then G acts on P by conjugation. Then Q normalizes g P. Let Z denote the centre of G. . Thus every Sylow p-subgroup is conjugate to P. However the only power of p which is not divisible by p is p0 = 1. Then Q acts on P by conjugation.11. L EMMA 4. There is a bijective correspondence between permutation representations of a group G and actions of G on {1. By Cauchy’s theorem. K is also central and therefore normal.36 4. Then G contains a subgroup of order pm whenever pm ≤ |G|. By the orbit–stabilizer theorem. This shows that G has subgroups of any possible p-power order. (ii) Assume now that G is simple. • Show that G has exactly 20 Sylow 19 subgroups. Suppose that G is a p-group of order > 1 and that the theorem is true for p-groups of smaller order. (iv) Assume now that Q is a Sylow p-subgroup. . Therefore g PQ is a p-group. Then it follows that Q = g P. n}. the number r of conjugates of P is |G : NG (P)|. Let P be the set of all conjugates of P. By the correspondence theorem. THE SYLOW THEOREMS • if = m then we have proved the claim in part (i).15. Let Q be any p-subgroup. Each Q-orbit has size a power of P.

(i) Let G be a non-abelian group of order pq where p and q are primes. E XERCISE 4. . (i) Prove that every group of order 15 is cyclic. (iii) Show that the subgroup of S7 generated by σ = (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and τ = (2 3 5)(4 7 6) has order 21 and is non-abelian. (ii) Show that the symmetric group S5 has no elements of order 15. (v) Write down a list all the numbers of the form pq where p < q are primes and q ≤ 13. [Note this cannot be deduced directly from Lagrange’s Theorem because 15 divides 60 = |A5 |. We have already seen that G has exactly q subgroups of order p. (i) Prove that every simple group of order 60 is isomorphic to a subgroup of the alternating group A6 . Use the Sylow theorems to prove that (ii) Deduce that every group of order 77 is abelian.18. E XERCISE 4.] (iv) Show that the subgroup of S11 generated by (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11) and (2 5 6 10 4)(3 9 11 8 7) is non-abelian of order 55.16.17. There are 15 such numbers. (iv) Find an example of a group of order 3420 which is abelian but which has no elements of order 171. • Show that if P is a Sylow 19-subgroup then NG (P) has order 171. ρ : G → S20 .SIMPLE GROUPS 37 • By considering the action of G by conjugation on the set of Sylow 19-subgroups. Which of the numbers n in this list have the property that all groups of order n are abelian? q≡1 (mod p). (iii) Find an example of a group of order 3420 which has an element of order 171. (iii) Show that the alternating group A5 has no subgroups of order 15.] E XERCISE 4. (ii) Prove that every simple group of order 168 is isomorphic to a subgroup of the alternating group A8 . [Hint: show first that τ σ = σ 2 . show that there is a permutation representation • Prove that ρ is a monomorphism whose image lies in the alternating group A20 . • Show that G does not contain an element of order 171.

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