# Symmetric group

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In abstract algebra, the symmetric group defined over any set is the group whose elements are all the bijections from the set to itself, and whose group operation is the composition of functions. In particular, the finite symmetric group ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{n}}$ defined over a finite set of ${\displaystyle n}$ symbols consists of the permutations that can be performed on the ${\displaystyle n}$ symbols. [1] Since there are ${\displaystyle n!}$ (${\displaystyle n}$ factorial) such permutation operations, the order (number of elements) of the symmetric group ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{n}}$ is ${\displaystyle n!}$.

## Contents

Although symmetric groups can be defined on infinite sets, this article focuses on the finite symmetric groups: their applications, their elements, their conjugacy classes, a finite presentation, their subgroups, their automorphism groups, and their representation theory. For the remainder of this article, "symmetric group" will mean a symmetric group on a finite set.

The symmetric group is important to diverse areas of mathematics such as Galois theory, invariant theory, the representation theory of Lie groups, and combinatorics. Cayley's theorem states that every group ${\displaystyle G}$ is isomorphic to a subgroup of the symmetric group on (the underlying set of) ${\displaystyle G}$.

## Definition and first properties

The symmetric group on a finite set ${\displaystyle X}$ is the group whose elements are all bijective functions from ${\displaystyle X}$ to ${\displaystyle X}$ and whose group operation is that of function composition. [1] For finite sets, "permutations" and "bijective functions" refer to the same operation, namely rearrangement. The symmetric group of degree${\displaystyle n}$ is the symmetric group on the set ${\displaystyle X=\{1,2,\ldots ,n\}}$.

The symmetric group on a set ${\displaystyle X}$ is denoted in various ways, including ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{X}}$, ${\displaystyle {\mathfrak {S}}_{X}}$, ${\displaystyle \Sigma _{X}}$, ${\displaystyle X!}$, and ${\displaystyle \operatorname {Sym} (X)}$. [1] If ${\displaystyle X}$ is the set ${\displaystyle \{1,2,\ldots ,n\}}$ then the name may be abbreviated to ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{n}}$, ${\displaystyle {\mathfrak {S}}_{n}}$, ${\displaystyle \Sigma _{n}}$, or ${\displaystyle \operatorname {Sym} (n)}$. [1]

Symmetric groups on infinite sets behave quite differently from symmetric groups on finite sets, and are discussed in ( Scott 1987 , Ch. 11), ( Dixon & Mortimer 1996 , Ch. 8), and ( Cameron 1999 ).

The symmetric group on a set of ${\displaystyle n}$ elements has order ${\displaystyle n!}$ (the factorial of ${\displaystyle n}$). [2] It is abelian if and only if ${\displaystyle n}$ is less than or equal to 2. [3] For ${\displaystyle n=0}$ and ${\displaystyle n=1}$ (the empty set and the singleton set), the symmetric groups are trivial (they have order ${\displaystyle 0!=1!=1}$). The group Sn is solvable if and only if ${\displaystyle n\leq 4}$. This is an essential part of the proof of the Abel–Ruffini theorem that shows that for every ${\displaystyle n>4}$ there are polynomials of degree ${\displaystyle n}$ which are not solvable by radicals, that is, the solutions cannot be expressed by performing a finite number of operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and root extraction on the polynomial's coefficients.

## Applications

The symmetric group on a set of size n is the Galois group of the general polynomial of degree n and plays an important role in Galois theory. In invariant theory, the symmetric group acts on the variables of a multi-variate function, and the functions left invariant are the so-called symmetric functions. In the representation theory of Lie groups, the representation theory of the symmetric group plays a fundamental role through the ideas of Schur functors.

In the theory of Coxeter groups, the symmetric group is the Coxeter group of type An and occurs as the Weyl group of the general linear group. In combinatorics, the symmetric groups, their elements (permutations), and their representations provide a rich source of problems involving Young tableaux, plactic monoids, and the Bruhat order. Subgroups of symmetric groups are called permutation groups and are widely studied because of their importance in understanding group actions, homogeneous spaces, and automorphism groups of graphs, such as the Higman–Sims group and the Higman–Sims graph.

## Group properties and special elements

The elements of the symmetric group on a set X are the permutations of X.

### Multiplication

The group operation in a symmetric group is function composition, denoted by the symbol ∘ or simply by just a composition of the permutations. The composition fg of permutations f and g, pronounced "f of g", maps any element x of X to f(g(x)). Concretely, let (see permutation for an explanation of notation):

${\displaystyle f=(1\ 3)(4\ 5)={\begin{pmatrix}1&2&3&4&5\\3&2&1&5&4\end{pmatrix}}}$
${\displaystyle g=(1\ 2\ 5)(3\ 4)={\begin{pmatrix}1&2&3&4&5\\2&5&4&3&1\end{pmatrix}}.}$

Applying f after g maps 1 first to 2 and then 2 to itself; 2 to 5 and then to 4; 3 to 4 and then to 5, and so on. So composing f and g gives

${\displaystyle fg=f\circ g=(1\ 2\ 4)(3\ 5)={\begin{pmatrix}1&2&3&4&5\\2&4&5&1&3\end{pmatrix}}.}$

A cycle of length L = k · m, taken to the kth power, will decompose into k cycles of length m: For example, (k = 2, m = 3),

${\displaystyle (1~2~3~4~5~6)^{2}=(1~3~5)(2~4~6).}$

### Verification of group axioms

To check that the symmetric group on a set X is indeed a group, it is necessary to verify the group axioms of closure, associativity, identity, and inverses. [4]

1. The operation of function composition is closed in the set of permutations of the given set X.
2. Function composition is always associative.
3. The trivial bijection that assigns each element of X to itself serves as an identity for the group.
4. Every bijection has an inverse function that undoes its action, and thus each element of a symmetric group does have an inverse which is a permutation too.

### Transpositions, sign, and the alternating group

A transposition is a permutation which exchanges two elements and keeps all others fixed; for example (1 3) is a transposition. Every permutation can be written as a product of transpositions; for instance, the permutation g from above can be written as g = (1 2)(2 5)(3 4). Since g can be written as a product of an odd number of transpositions, it is then called an odd permutation, whereas f is an even permutation.

The representation of a permutation as a product of transpositions is not unique; however, the number of transpositions needed to represent a given permutation is either always even or always odd. There are several short proofs of the invariance of this parity of a permutation.

The product of two even permutations is even, the product of two odd permutations is even, and all other products are odd. Thus we can define the sign of a permutation:

${\displaystyle \operatorname {sgn} f={\begin{cases}+1,&{\text{if }}f{\mbox{ is even}}\\-1,&{\text{if }}f{\text{ is odd}}.\end{cases}}}$

With this definition,

${\displaystyle \operatorname {sgn} \colon \mathrm {S} _{n}\rightarrow \{+1,-1\}\ }$

is a group homomorphism ({+1, −1} is a group under multiplication, where +1 is e, the neutral element). The kernel of this homomorphism, that is, the set of all even permutations, is called the alternating group An. It is a normal subgroup of Sn, and for n ≥ 2 it has n!/2 elements. The group Sn is the semidirect product of An and any subgroup generated by a single transposition.

Furthermore, every permutation can be written as a product of adjacent transpositions , that is, transpositions of the form (aa+1). For instance, the permutation g from above can also be written as g = (4 5)(3 4)(4 5)(1 2)(2 3)(3 4)(4 5). The sorting algorithm bubble sort is an application of this fact. The representation of a permutation as a product of adjacent transpositions is also not unique.

### Cycles

A cycle of lengthk is a permutation f for which there exists an element x in {1, ..., n} such that x, f(x), f2(x), ..., fk(x) = x are the only elements moved by f; it is required that k ≥ 2 since with k = 1 the element x itself would not be moved either. The permutation h defined by

${\displaystyle h={\begin{pmatrix}1&2&3&4&5\\4&2&1&3&5\end{pmatrix}}}$

is a cycle of length three, since h(1) = 4, h(4) = 3 and h(3) = 1, leaving 2 and 5 untouched. We denote such a cycle by (1 4 3), but it could equally well be written (4 3 1) or (3 1 4) by starting at a different point. The order of a cycle is equal to its length. Cycles of length two are transpositions. Two cycles are disjoint if they have disjoint subsets of elements. Disjoint cycles commute: for example, in S6 there is the equality (4 1 3)(2 5 6) = (2 5 6)(4 1 3). Every element of Sn can be written as a product of disjoint cycles; this representation is unique up to the order of the factors, and the freedom present in representing each individual cycle by choosing its starting point.

Cycles admit the following conjugation property with any permutation ${\displaystyle \sigma }$, this property is often used to obtain its generators and relations.

${\displaystyle \sigma {\begin{pmatrix}a&b&c&\ldots \end{pmatrix}}\sigma ^{-1}={\begin{pmatrix}\sigma (a)&\sigma (b)&\sigma (c)&\ldots \end{pmatrix}}}$

### Special elements

Certain elements of the symmetric group of {1, 2, ..., n} are of particular interest (these can be generalized to the symmetric group of any finite totally ordered set, but not to that of an unordered set).

The order reversing permutation is the one given by:

${\displaystyle {\begin{pmatrix}1&2&\cdots &n\\n&n-1&\cdots &1\end{pmatrix}}.}$

This is the unique maximal element with respect to the Bruhat order and the longest element in the symmetric group with respect to generating set consisting of the adjacent transpositions (ii+1), 1 ≤ in − 1.

This is an involution, and consists of ${\displaystyle \lfloor n/2\rfloor }$ (non-adjacent) transpositions

${\displaystyle (1\,n)(2\,n-1)\cdots ,{\text{ or }}\sum _{k=1}^{n-1}k={\frac {n(n-1)}{2}}{\text{ adjacent transpositions: }}}$
${\displaystyle (n\,n-1)(n-1\,n-2)\cdots (2\,1)(n-1\,n-2)(n-2\,n-3)\cdots ,}$

so it thus has sign:

${\displaystyle \mathrm {sgn} (\rho _{n})=(-1)^{\lfloor n/2\rfloor }=(-1)^{n(n-1)/2}={\begin{cases}+1&n\equiv 0,1{\pmod {4}}\\-1&n\equiv 2,3{\pmod {4}}\end{cases}}}$

which is 4-periodic in n.

In S2n, the perfect shuffle is the permutation that splits the set into 2 piles and interleaves them. Its sign is also ${\displaystyle (-1)^{\lfloor n/2\rfloor }.}$

Note that the reverse on n elements and perfect shuffle on 2n elements have the same sign; these are important to the classification of Clifford algebras, which are 8-periodic.

## Conjugacy classes

The conjugacy classes of Sn correspond to the cycle types of permutations; that is, two elements of Sn are conjugate in Sn if and only if they consist of the same number of disjoint cycles of the same lengths. For instance, in S5, (1 2 3)(4 5) and (1 4 3)(2 5) are conjugate; (1 2 3)(4 5) and (1 2)(4 5) are not. A conjugating element of Sn can be constructed in "two line notation" by placing the "cycle notations" of the two conjugate permutations on top of one another. Continuing the previous example,

${\displaystyle k={\begin{pmatrix}1&2&3&4&5\\1&4&3&2&5\end{pmatrix}},}$

which can be written as the product of cycles as (2 4). This permutation then relates (1 2 3)(4 5) and (1 4 3)(2 5) via conjugation, that is,

${\displaystyle (2~4)\circ (1~2~3)(4~5)\circ (2~4)=(1~4~3)(2~5).}$

It is clear that such a permutation is not unique.

Conjugacy classes of ${\displaystyle S_{n}}$ correspond to integer partitions of ${\displaystyle n}$: to the partition ${\displaystyle \mu =(\mu _{1},\mu _{2},\dots ,\mu _{k})}$ with ${\displaystyle n=\sum _{i=1}^{k}\mu _{i}}$ and ${\displaystyle \mu _{1}\geq \mu _{2}\geq \cdots \geq \mu _{k}}$, is associated the set ${\displaystyle C_{\mu }}$ of permutations with cycles of lengths ${\displaystyle \mu _{1},\mu _{2},\dots ,\mu _{k}}$. Then ${\displaystyle C_{\mu }}$ is a conjugacy class of ${\displaystyle S_{n}}$, whose elements are said to be of cycle-type ${\displaystyle \mu }$.

## Low degree groups

The low-degree symmetric groups have simpler and exceptional structure, and often must be treated separately.

S0 and S1
The symmetric groups on the empty set and the singleton set are trivial, which corresponds to 0! = 1! = 1. In this case the alternating group agrees with the symmetric group, rather than being an index 2 subgroup, and the sign map is trivial. In the case of S0, its only member is the empty function.
S2
This group consists of exactly two elements: the identity and the permutation swapping the two points. It is a cyclic group and is thus abelian. In Galois theory, this corresponds to the fact that the quadratic formula gives a direct solution to the general quadratic polynomial after extracting only a single root. In invariant theory, the representation theory of the symmetric group on two points is quite simple and is seen as writing a function of two variables as a sum of its symmetric and anti-symmetric parts: Setting fs(x, y) = f(x, y) + f(y, x), and fa(x, y) = f(x, y) − f(y, x), one gets that 2⋅f = fs + fa. This process is known as symmetrization.
S3
S3 is the first nonabelian symmetric group. This group is isomorphic to the dihedral group of order 6, the group of reflection and rotation symmetries of an equilateral triangle, since these symmetries permute the three vertices of the triangle. Cycles of length two correspond to reflections, and cycles of length three are rotations. In Galois theory, the sign map from S3 to S2 corresponds to the resolving quadratic for a cubic polynomial, as discovered by Gerolamo Cardano, while the A3 kernel corresponds to the use of the discrete Fourier transform of order 3 in the solution, in the form of Lagrange resolvents.[ citation needed ]
S4
The group S4 is isomorphic to the group of proper rotations about opposite faces, opposite diagonals and opposite edges, 9, 8 and 6 permutations, of the cube. [5] Beyond the group A4, S4 has a Klein four-group V as a proper normal subgroup, namely the even transpositions {(1), (1 2)(3 4), (1 3)(2 4), (1 4)(2 3)}, with quotient S3. In Galois theory, this map corresponds to the resolving cubic to a quartic polynomial, which allows the quartic to be solved by radicals, as established by Lodovico Ferrari. The Klein group can be understood in terms of the Lagrange resolvents of the quartic. The map from S4 to S3 also yields a 2-dimensional irreducible representation, which is an irreducible representation of a symmetric group of degree n of dimension below n − 1, which only occurs for n = 4.
S5
S5 is the first non-solvable symmetric group. Along with the special linear group SL(2, 5) and the icosahedral group A5 × S2, S5 is one of the three non-solvable groups of order 120, up to isomorphism. S5 is the Galois group of the general quintic equation, and the fact that S5 is not a solvable group translates into the non-existence of a general formula to solve quintic polynomials by radicals. There is an exotic inclusion map S5 → S6 as a transitive subgroup; the obvious inclusion map Sn → Sn+1 fixes a point and thus is not transitive. This yields the outer automorphism of S6, discussed below, and corresponds to the resolvent sextic of a quintic.
S6
Unlike all other symmetric groups, S6, has an outer automorphism. Using the language of Galois theory, this can also be understood in terms of Lagrange resolvents. The resolvent of a quintic is of degree 6—this corresponds to an exotic inclusion map S5 → S6 as a transitive subgroup (the obvious inclusion map Sn → Sn+1 fixes a point and thus is not transitive) and, while this map does not make the general quintic solvable, it yields the exotic outer automorphism of S6—see Automorphisms of the symmetric and alternating groups for details.
Note that while A6 and A7 have an exceptional Schur multiplier (a triple cover) and that these extend to triple covers of S6 and S7, these do not correspond to exceptional Schur multipliers of the symmetric group.

### Maps between symmetric groups

Other than the trivial map Sn → C1 ≅ S0 ≅ S1 and the sign map Sn → S2, the most notable homomorphisms between symmetric groups, in order of relative dimension, are:

• S4 → S3 corresponding to the exceptional normal subgroup V < A4 < S4;
• S6 → S6 (or rather, a class of such maps up to inner automorphism) corresponding to the outer automorphism of S6.
• S5 → S6 as a transitive subgroup, yielding the outer automorphism of S6 as discussed above.

There are also a host of other homomorphisms Sm → Sn where m < n.

## Relation with alternating group

For n ≥ 5, the alternating group An is simple, and the induced quotient is the sign map: An → Sn → S2 which is split by taking a transposition of two elements. Thus Sn is the semidirect product An ⋊ S2, and has no other proper normal subgroups, as they would intersect An in either the identity (and thus themselves be the identity or a 2-element group, which is not normal), or in An (and thus themselves be An or Sn).

Sn acts on its subgroup An by conjugation, and for n ≠ 6, Sn is the full automorphism group of An: Aut(An) ≅ Sn. Conjugation by even elements are inner automorphisms of An while the outer automorphism of An of order 2 corresponds to conjugation by an odd element. For n = 6, there is an exceptional outer automorphism of An so Sn is not the full automorphism group of An.

Conversely, for n ≠ 6, Sn has no outer automorphisms, and for n ≠ 2 it has no center, so for n ≠ 2, 6 it is a complete group, as discussed in automorphism group, below.

For n ≥ 5, Sn is an almost simple group, as it lies between the simple group An and its group of automorphisms.

Sn can be embedded into An+2 by appending the transposition (n + 1, n + 2) to all odd permutations, while embedding into An+1 is impossible for n > 1.

## Generators and relations

The symmetric group on n letters is generated by the adjacent transpositions ${\displaystyle \sigma _{i}=(i,i+1)}$ that swap i and i + 1. [6] The collection ${\displaystyle \sigma _{1},\ldots ,\sigma _{n-1}}$ generates Sn subject to the following relations: [7]

• ${\displaystyle \sigma _{i}^{2}=1,}$
• ${\displaystyle \sigma _{i}\sigma _{j}=\sigma _{j}\sigma _{i}}$ for ${\displaystyle |i-j|>1}$, and
• ${\displaystyle (\sigma _{i}\sigma _{i+1})^{3}=1,}$

where 1 represents the identity permutation. This representation endows the symmetric group with the structure of a Coxeter group (and so also a reflection group).

Other possible generating sets include the set of transpositions that swap 1 and i for 2 ≤ in,[ citation needed ] and a set containing any n-cycle and a 2-cycle of adjacent elements in the n-cycle. [8]

## Subgroup structure

A subgroup of a symmetric group is called a permutation group.

### Normal subgroups

The normal subgroups of the finite symmetric groups are well understood. If n ≤ 2, Sn has at most 2 elements, and so has no nontrivial proper subgroups. The alternating group of degree n is always a normal subgroup, a proper one for n ≥ 2 and nontrivial for n ≥ 3; for n ≥ 3 it is in fact the only nontrivial proper normal subgroup of Sn, except when n = 4 where there is one additional such normal subgroup, which is isomorphic to the Klein four group.

The symmetric group on an infinite set does not have a subgroup of index 2, as Vitali (1915 [9] ) proved that each permutation can be written as a product of three squares. However it contains the normal subgroup S of permutations that fix all but finitely many elements, which is generated by transpositions. Those elements of S that are products of an even number of transpositions form a subgroup of index 2 in S, called the alternating subgroup A. Since A is even a characteristic subgroup of S, it is also a normal subgroup of the full symmetric group of the infinite set. The groups A and S are the only nontrivial proper normal subgroups of the symmetric group on a countably infinite set. This was first proved by Onofri (1929 [10] ) and independently SchreierUlam (1934 [11] ). For more details see ( Scott 1987 , Ch. 11.3) or ( Dixon & Mortimer 1996 , Ch. 8.1).

### Maximal subgroups

The maximal subgroups of Sn fall into three classes: the intransitive, the imprimitive, and the primitive. The intransitive maximal subgroups are exactly those of the form Sk × Snk for 1 ≤ k < n/2. The imprimitive maximal subgroups are exactly those of the form Sk wr Sn/k, where 2 ≤ kn/2 is a proper divisor of n and "wr" denotes the wreath product. The primitive maximal subgroups are more difficult to identify, but with the assistance of the O'Nan–Scott theorem and the classification of finite simple groups, ( Liebeck, Praeger & Saxl 1988 ) gave a fairly satisfactory description of the maximal subgroups of this type, according to ( Dixon & Mortimer 1996 , p. 268).

### Sylow subgroups

The Sylow subgroups of the symmetric groups are important examples of p-groups. They are more easily described in special cases first:

The Sylow p-subgroups of the symmetric group of degree p are just the cyclic subgroups generated by p-cycles. There are (p − 1)!/(p − 1) = (p − 2)! such subgroups simply by counting generators. The normalizer therefore has order p⋅(p − 1) and is known as a Frobenius group Fp(p−1) (especially for p = 5), and is the affine general linear group, AGL(1, p).

The Sylow p-subgroups of the symmetric group of degree p2 are the wreath product of two cyclic groups of order p. For instance, when p = 3, a Sylow 3-subgroup of Sym(9) is generated by a = (1 4 7)(2 5 8)(3 6 9) and the elements x = (1 2 3), y = (4 5 6), z = (7 8 9), and every element of the Sylow 3-subgroup has the form aixjykzl for ${\displaystyle 0\leq i,j,k,l\leq 2}$.

The Sylow p-subgroups of the symmetric group of degree pn are sometimes denoted Wp(n), and using this notation one has that Wp(n + 1) is the wreath product of Wp(n) and Wp(1).

In general, the Sylow p-subgroups of the symmetric group of degree n are a direct product of ai copies of Wp(i), where 0 ≤ aip − 1 and n = a0 + pa1 + ... + pkak (the base p expansion of n).

For instance, W2(1) = C2 and W2(2) = D8, the dihedral group of order 8, and so a Sylow 2-subgroup of the symmetric group of degree 7 is generated by { (1,3)(2,4), (1,2), (3,4), (5,6) } and is isomorphic to D8 × C2.

These calculations are attributed to ( Kaloujnine 1948 ) and described in more detail in ( Rotman 1995 , p. 176). Note however that ( Kerber 1971 , p. 26) attributes the result to an 1844 work of Cauchy, and mentions that it is even covered in textbook form in ( Netto 1882 , §39–40).

### Transitive subgroups

A transitive subgroup of Sn is a subgroup whose action on {1, 2, ,..., n} is transitive. For example, the Galois group of a (finite) Galois extension is a transitive subgroup of Sn, for some n.

### Cayley's theorem

Cayley's theorem states that every group G is isomorphic to a subgroup of some symmetric group. In particular, one may take a subgroup of the symmetric group on the elements of G, since every group acts on itself faithfully by (left or right) multiplication.

## Cyclic subgroups

Cyclic groups are those that are generated by a single permutation. When a permutation is represented in cycle notation, the order of the cyclic subgroup that it generates is the least common multiple of the lengths of its cycles. For example, in S5, one cyclic subgroup of order 5 is generated by (13254), whereas the largest cyclic subgroups of S5 are generated by elements like (123)(45) that have one cycle of length 3 and another cycle of length 2. This rules out many groups as possible subgroups of symmetric groups of a given size.[ citation needed ] For example, S5 has no subgroup of order 15 (a divisor of the order of S5), because the only group of order 15 is the cyclic group. The largest possible order of a cyclic subgroup (equivalently, the largest possible order of an element in Sn) is given by Landau's function.

## Automorphism group

 n Aut(Sn) Out(Sn) Z(Sn) n ≠ 2, 6 Sn C1 C1 n = 2 C1 C1 S2 n = 6 S6 ⋊ C2 C2 C1

For n ≠ 2, 6, Sn is a complete group: its center and outer automorphism group are both trivial.

For n = 2, the automorphism group is trivial, but S2 is not trivial: it is isomorphic to C2, which is abelian, and hence the center is the whole group.

For n = 6, it has an outer automorphism of order 2: Out(S6) = C2, and the automorphism group is a semidirect product Aut(S6) = S6 ⋊ C2.

In fact, for any set X of cardinality other than 6, every automorphism of the symmetric group on X is inner, a result first due to ( Schreier & Ulam 1936 ) according to ( Dixon & Mortimer 1996 , p. 259).

## Homology

The group homology of Sn is quite regular and stabilizes: the first homology (concretely, the abelianization) is:

${\displaystyle H_{1}(\mathrm {S} _{n},\mathbf {Z} )={\begin{cases}0&n<2\\\mathbf {Z} /2&n\geq 2.\end{cases}}}$

The first homology group is the abelianization, and corresponds to the sign map Sn → S2 which is the abelianization for n ≥ 2; for n < 2 the symmetric group is trivial. This homology is easily computed as follows: Sn is generated by involutions (2-cycles, which have order 2), so the only non-trivial maps Sn → Cp are to S2 and all involutions are conjugate, hence map to the same element in the abelianization (since conjugation is trivial in abelian groups). Thus the only possible maps Sn → S2 ≅ {±1} send an involution to 1 (the trivial map) or to −1 (the sign map). One must also show that the sign map is well-defined, but assuming that, this gives the first homology of Sn.

The second homology (concretely, the Schur multiplier) is:

${\displaystyle H_{2}(\mathrm {S} _{n},\mathbf {Z} )={\begin{cases}0&n<4\\\mathbf {Z} /2&n\geq 4.\end{cases}}}$

This was computed in ( Schur 1911 ), and corresponds to the double cover of the symmetric group, 2 · Sn.

Note that the exceptional low-dimensional homology of the alternating group (${\displaystyle H_{1}(\mathrm {A} _{3})\cong H_{1}(\mathrm {A} _{4})\cong \mathrm {C} _{3},}$ corresponding to non-trivial abelianization, and ${\displaystyle H_{2}(\mathrm {A} _{6})\cong H_{2}(\mathrm {A} _{7})\cong \mathrm {C} _{6},}$ due to the exceptional 3-fold cover) does not change the homology of the symmetric group; the alternating group phenomena do yield symmetric group phenomena – the map ${\displaystyle \mathrm {A} _{4}\twoheadrightarrow \mathrm {C} _{3}}$ extends to ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{4}\twoheadrightarrow \mathrm {S} _{3},}$ and the triple covers of A6 and A7 extend to triple covers of S6 and S7 – but these are not homological – the map ${\displaystyle \mathrm {S} _{4}\twoheadrightarrow \mathrm {S} _{3}}$ does not change the abelianization of S4, and the triple covers do not correspond to homology either.

The homology "stabilizes" in the sense of stable homotopy theory: there is an inclusion map Sn → Sn+1, and for fixed k, the induced map on homology Hk(Sn) → Hk(Sn+1) is an isomorphism for sufficiently high n. This is analogous to the homology of families Lie groups stabilizing.

The homology of the infinite symmetric group is computed in ( Nakaoka 1961 ), with the cohomology algebra forming a Hopf algebra.

## Representation theory

The representation theory of the symmetric group is a particular case of the representation theory of finite groups, for which a concrete and detailed theory can be obtained. This has a large area of potential applications, from symmetric function theory to problems of quantum mechanics for a number of identical particles.

The symmetric group Sn has order n!. Its conjugacy classes are labeled by partitions of n. Therefore, according to the representation theory of a finite group, the number of inequivalent irreducible representations, over the complex numbers, is equal to the number of partitions of n. Unlike the general situation for finite groups, there is in fact a natural way to parametrize irreducible representation by the same set that parametrizes conjugacy classes, namely by partitions of n or equivalently Young diagrams of size n.

Each such irreducible representation can be realized over the integers (every permutation acting by a matrix with integer coefficients); it can be explicitly constructed by computing the Young symmetrizers acting on a space generated by the Young tableaux of shape given by the Young diagram.

Over other fields the situation can become much more complicated. If the field K has characteristic equal to zero or greater than n then by Maschke's theorem the group algebra KSn is semisimple. In these cases the irreducible representations defined over the integers give the complete set of irreducible representations (after reduction modulo the characteristic if necessary).

However, the irreducible representations of the symmetric group are not known in arbitrary characteristic. In this context it is more usual to use the language of modules rather than representations. The representation obtained from an irreducible representation defined over the integers by reducing modulo the characteristic will not in general be irreducible. The modules so constructed are called Specht modules , and every irreducible does arise inside some such module. There are now fewer irreducibles, and although they can be classified they are very poorly understood. For example, even their dimensions are not known in general.

The determination of the irreducible modules for the symmetric group over an arbitrary field is widely regarded as one of the most important open problems in representation theory.

## Notes

1. Jacobson 2009 , p. 31
2. Jacobson 2009 , p. 32 Theorem 1.1
3. "Symmetric Group is not Abelian/Proof 1".
4. Vasishtha, A.R.; Vasishtha, A.K. (2008). "2. Groups S3 Group Definition". Modern Algebra. Krishna Prakashan Media. p. 49. ISBN   9788182830561.
5. Neubüser, J. (1967). Die Untergruppenverbände der Gruppen der Ordnungen ̤100 mit Ausnahme der Ordnungen 64 und 96 (PhD). Universität Kiel.
6. Sagan, Bruce E. (2001), The Symmetric Group (2 ed.), Springer, p.  4, ISBN   978-0-387-95067-9
7. Björner, Anders; Brenti, Francesco (2005), Combinatorics of Coxeter groups, Springer, p.  4. Example 1.2.3, ISBN   978-3-540-27596-1
8. Artin, Michael (1991), Algebra, Pearson, Exercise 6.6.16, ISBN   978-0-13-004763-2
9. Vitali, G. (1915). "Sostituzioni sopra una infinità numerabile di elementi". Bollettino Mathesis. 7: 29–31.
10. §141, p.124 in Onofri, L. (1929). "Teoria delle sostituzioni che operano su una infinità numerabile di elementi". Annali di Matematica. 7 (1): 103–130. doi:. S2CID   186219904.
11. Schreier, J.; Ulam, S. (1933). "Über die Permutationsgruppe der natürlichen Zahlenfolge" (PDF). Studia Math. 4 (1): 134–141. doi:10.4064/sm-4-1-134-141.

## Related Research Articles

In the mathematical field of representation theory, group representations describe abstract groups in terms of bijective linear transformations of a vector space to itself ; in particular, they can be used to represent group elements as invertible matrices so that the group operation can be represented by matrix multiplication.

In mathematics, a permutation group is a group G whose elements are permutations of a given set M and whose group operation is the composition of permutations in G (which are thought of as bijective functions from the set M to itself). The group of all permutations of a set M is the symmetric group of M, often written as Sym(M). The term permutation group thus means a subgroup of the symmetric group. If M = {1, 2, ..., n} then Sym(M) is usually denoted by Sn, and may be called the symmetric group on n letters.

In mathematics, a permutation of a set is, loosely speaking, an arrangement of its members into a sequence or linear order, or if the set is already ordered, a rearrangement of its elements. The word "permutation" also refers to the act or process of changing the linear order of an ordered set.

In mathematics, especially group theory, two elements and of a group are conjugate if there is an element in the group such that This is an equivalence relation whose equivalence classes are called conjugacy classes. In other words, each conjugacy class is closed under for all elements in the group.

In mathematics, an alternating group is the group of even permutations of a finite set. The alternating group on a set of n elements is called the alternating group of degree n, or the alternating group on n letters and denoted by An or Alt(n).

In mathematics, when X is a finite set with at least two elements, the permutations of X fall into two classes of equal size: the even permutations and the odd permutations. If any total ordering of X is fixed, the parity of a permutation of X can be defined as the parity of the number of inversions for σ, i.e., of pairs of elements x, y of X such that x < y and σ(x) > σ(y).

In mathematics, a dihedral group is the group of symmetries of a regular polygon, which includes rotations and reflections. Dihedral groups are among the simplest examples of finite groups, and they play an important role in group theory, geometry, and chemistry.

In group theory, the quaternion group Q8 (sometimes just denoted by Q) is a non-abelian group of order eight, isomorphic to the eight-element subset of the quaternions under multiplication. It is given by the group presentation

In mathematics, a Cayley graph, also known as a Cayley color graph, Cayley diagram, group diagram, or color group is a graph that encodes the abstract structure of a group. Its definition is suggested by Cayley's theorem, and uses a specified set of generators for the group. It is a central tool in combinatorial and geometric group theory. The structure and symmetry of Cayley graphs makes them particularly good candidates for constructing families of expander graphs.

In mathematics, the projective special linear group PSL(2, 7), isomorphic to GL(3, 2), is a finite simple group that has important applications in algebra, geometry, and number theory. It is the automorphism group of the Klein quartic as well as the symmetry group of the Fano plane. With 168 elements, PSL(2, 7) is the smallest nonabelian simple group after the alternating group A5 with 60 elements, isomorphic to PSL(2, 5).

In mathematics, and in particular in group theory, a cyclic permutation is a permutation of the elements of some set X which maps the elements of some subset S of X to each other in a cyclic fashion, while fixing all other elements of X. If S has k elements, the cycle is called a k-cycle. Cycles are often denoted by the list of their elements enclosed with parentheses, in the order to which they are permuted.

In mathematics, the braid group on n strands, also known as the Artin braid group, is the group whose elements are equivalence classes of n-braids, and whose group operation is composition of braids. Example applications of braid groups include knot theory, where any knot may be represented as the closure of certain braids ; in mathematical physics where Artin's canonical presentation of the braid group corresponds to the Yang–Baxter equation ; and in monodromy invariants of algebraic geometry.

In mathematics, the outer automorphism group of a group, G, is the quotient, Aut(G) / Inn(G), where Aut(G) is the automorphism group of G and Inn(G) is the subgroup consisting of inner automorphisms. The outer automorphism group is usually denoted Out(G). If Out(G) is trivial and G has a trivial center, then G is said to be complete.

In mathematics, a Frobenius group is a transitive permutation group on a finite set, such that no non-trivial element fixes more than one point and some non-trivial element fixes a point. They are named after F. G. Frobenius.

Symmetry occurs not only in geometry, but also in other branches of mathematics. Symmetry is a type of invariance: the property that a mathematical object remains unchanged under a set of operations or transformations.

In mathematics, a permutation group G acting on a non-empty finite set X is called primitive if G acts transitively on X and the only partitions the G-action preserves are the trivial partitions into either a single set or into |X| singleton sets. Otherwise, if G is transitive and G does preserve a nontrivial partition, G is called imprimitive.

In mathematics, a Gelfand pair is a pair (G,K) consisting of a group G and a subgroup K that satisfies a certain property on restricted representations. The theory of Gelfand pairs is closely related to the topic of spherical functions in the classical theory of special functions, and to the theory of Riemannian symmetric spaces in differential geometry. Broadly speaking, the theory exists to abstract from these theories their content in terms of harmonic analysis and representation theory.

In mathematics, a Hermitian symmetric space is a Hermitian manifold which at every point has an inversion symmetry preserving the Hermitian structure. First studied by Élie Cartan, they form a natural generalization of the notion of Riemannian symmetric space from real manifolds to complex manifolds.

In group theory, a branch of mathematics, the automorphisms and outer automorphisms of the symmetric groups and alternating groups are both standard examples of these automorphisms, and objects of study in their own right, particularly the exceptional outer automorphism of S6, the symmetric group on 6 elements.

In mathematics, the complexification or universal complexification of a real Lie group is given by a continuous homomorphism of the group into a complex Lie group with the universal property that every continuous homomorphism of the original group into another complex Lie group extends compatibly to a complex analytic homomorphism between the complex Lie groups. The complexification, which always exists, is unique up to unique isomorphism. Its Lie algebra is a quotient of the complexification of the Lie algebra of the original group. They are isomorphic if the original group has a quotient by a discrete normal subgroup which is linear.