Quick Calculation 15.1.2

A First Course in String Theory


Recall that a group is a set which is closed under an associative multiplication; it contains an identity element, and each element has a multiplicative inverse. Verify that \displaystyle{U(1)} and \displaystyle{U(N)}, as described above, are groups.



A group is a set, G, together with an operation \displaystyle{\bullet} (called the group law of G) that combines any two elements a and b to form another element, denoted \displaystyle{a \bullet b} or \displaystyle{ab}. To qualify as a group, the set and operation, \displaystyle{(G, \bullet)}, must satisfy four requirements known as the group axioms:


For all a, b in G, the result of the operation, \displaystyle{a \bullet b}, is also in G.


For all a, b and c in G, \displaystyle{(a \bullet b) \bullet c = a \bullet (b \bullet c)}.

Identity element

There exists an element e in G such that, for every element a in G, the equation \displaystyle{e \bullet a = a \bullet e = a} holds. Such an element is unique, and thus one speaks of the identity element.

Inverse element

For each a in G, there exists an element b in G, commonly denoted \displaystyle{a^{-1}} (or \displaystyle{-a}, if the operation is denoted “+”), such that \displaystyle{a \bullet b = b \bullet a = e}, where e is the identity element.

— Wikipedia on Group (mathematics)


The axioms for a group are short and natural… Yet somehow hidden behind these axioms is the monster simple group, a huge and extraordinary mathematical object, which appears to rely on numerous bizarre coincidences to exist. The axioms for groups give no obvious hint that anything like this exists.

— Richard Borcherds in Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World



2019.07.28 Sunday ACHK