Group theory is a branch of abstract algebra. A group is a set of objects, together with a binary operation, that satisfies four axioms. The set must be closed under the operation and contain an identity object. Every object in the set must have an inverse, and the operation must be associative. ...

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26
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14answers
6k views

Comprehensive book on group theory for physicists?

I am looking for a good source on group theory aimed at physicists. I'd prefer one with a good general introduction to group theory, not just focusing on Lie groups or crystal groups but one that ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I construct the $SU(2)$ representation of the Lorentz Group using $SU(2)\times SU(2)\sim SO(3,1)$ ?

This question is based on problem II.3.1 in Anthony Zee's book Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell (I'm reading this for fun- it isn't a homework problem.) Show, by explicit calculation, that ...
23
votes
3answers
751 views

Idea of Covering Group

$SU(2)$ is the covering group of $SO(3)$. What does it mean and does it have a physical consequence? I heard that this fact is related to the description of bosons and fermions. But how does it ...
8
votes
2answers
552 views

What does “the ${\bf N}$ of a group” mean?

In the context of group theory (in my case, applications to physics), I frequently come across the phrase "the ${\bf N}$ of a group", for example "a ${\bf 24}$ of $SU(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ of ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does photon have only two possible eigenvalues of helicity?

Photon is a spin-1 particle. Were it massive, its spin projected along some direction would be either 1, -1, or 0. But photons can only be in an eigenstate of $S_z$ with eigenvalue $\pm 1$ (z as the ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Definition of Casimir operator and its properties

I'm not sure which is the exact definition of a Casimir operator. In some texts it is defined as the product of generators of the form: $$X^2=\sum X_iX^i$$ But in other parts it is defined as an ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

Tensor Operators

Motivation. I was recently reviewing the section 3.10 in Sakurai's quantum mechanics in which he discusses tensor operators, and I was left desiring a more mathematically general/precise discussion. ...
8
votes
2answers
643 views

Lie bracket for Lie algebra of $SO(n,m)$

How does one show that the bracket of elements in the Lie algebra of $SO(n,m)$ is given by $$[J_{ab},J_{cd}] ~=~ i(\eta_{ad} J_{bc} + \eta_{bc} J_{ad} - \eta_{ac} J_{bd} - \eta_{bd}J_{ac}),$$ ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the usefulness of the Wigner-Eckart theorem?

I am doing some self-study in between undergrad and grad school and I came across the beastly Wigner-Eckart theorem in Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics. I was wondering if someone could tell me why ...
37
votes
8answers
3k views

Is there something similar to Noether's theorem for discrete symmetries?

Noether's theorem states that, for every continuous symmetry of a system, there exists a conserved quantity, e.g. energy conservation for time invariance, charge conservation for $U(1)$. Is there any ...
13
votes
2answers
611 views

What's the relationship between $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$, $SU(2)\times SU(2)$ and $SO(1,3)$?

I'm a beginner of QFT. Ref. 1 states that [...] The Lorentz group $SO(1,3)$ is then essentially $SU(2)\times SU(2)$. But how is it possible, because $SU(2)\times SU(2)$ is a compact Lie group ...
11
votes
1answer
475 views

What is (meant by) a non-compact $U(1)$ Lie group?

In John Preskill's review of monopoles he states Nowadays, we have another way of understanding why electric charge is quantized. Charge is quantized if the electromagnetic U(l)em gauge group ...
7
votes
2answers
692 views

How does non-Abelian gauge symmetry imply the quantization of the corresponding charges?

I read an unjustified treatment in a book, saying that in QED charge an not quantized by the gauge symmetry principle (which totally clear for me: Q the generator of $U(1)$ can be anything in ...
8
votes
2answers
424 views

$(\frac{1}{2},\frac{1}{2})$ representation of $SU(2)\otimes SU(2)$

The representation $(\frac{1}{2},\frac{1}{2})$ of the Lorentz group correspond to a four- vector or a spin-one object. Right? Does it imply that any four-vector is identical to a spin-one object or ...
4
votes
2answers
366 views

Is there a 1-1 correspondence between symmetry and group theory?

The professor in my class of mathematical physics introduces the definition of groups and said that group theory is the mathematics of symmetry. He gave also some examples of groups such as the set ...
3
votes
1answer
553 views

Why helicity is proportional to the spin of particle and has two values?

How can it be shown without using the little group formalism? Let's have the Wigner's classification for the irreducible represetation of the Poincare group. For the massless case the eigenvalues of ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Could the Periodic Table have been done using group theory?

These three questions are phrased as alternative-history questions, but my real intent is to understand better how well different modeling approaches fit the phenomena they are used to describe; see 1 ...
14
votes
2answers
510 views

Fundamental Representation of $SU(3)$ is a complex representation

Let in a $D(R)$ dimensional representation of $SU(N)$ the generators, $T^a$s follow the following commutation rule: $\qquad \qquad \qquad [T^a_R, T^b_R]=if^{abc}T^c_R$. Now ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Group Theory in General Relativity

In Special Relativity, the Lorentz Group is the set of matrices that preserve the metric, i.e. $\Lambda \eta \Lambda^T=\eta$. Is there any equivalent in General Relativity, like: $\Lambda g ...
12
votes
3answers
459 views

How are symmetries precisely defined?

How are symmetries precisely defined? In basic physics courses it is usual to see arguments on symmetry to derive some equations. This, however, is done in a kind of sloppy way: "we are calculating ...
7
votes
1answer
293 views

Double connectivity of $SO(3)$ group manifold

Is there any physical significance of the fact that the group manifold (parameter space) of $SO(3)$ is doubly connected? EDIT 1: Let me clarify my question. It was too vague. There exists two ...
5
votes
1answer
740 views

Introduction to Physical Content from Adjoint Representations

In particle Physics it's usual to write the physical content of a Theory in adjoint representations of the Gauge group. For example: $24\rightarrow (8,1)_0\oplus (1,3)_0\oplus (1,1)_0\oplus ...
9
votes
3answers
817 views

Why is the Symmetry Group for the Electroweak force SU(2)xU(1) and not U(2)

Let me first say that I'm a layman who's trying to understand group theory and gauge theory, so excuse me if my question doesn't make sense. Before symmetry breaking, the Electroweak force has 4 ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

How is it that angular velocities are vectors, while rotations aren't?

Does anyone have an intuitive explanation of why this is the case?
4
votes
1answer
205 views

Linearizing Quantum Operators

I was reading an article on harmonic generation and came across the following way of decomposing the photon field operator. $$ \hat{A}={\langle}\hat{A}{\rangle}I+ \Delta\hat{a}$$ The right hand side ...
3
votes
3answers
660 views

Textbook on group theory to be able to start QFT

I am very enthusiastic about learning QFT. How much group theory would I need to master? Please could you recommend me a textbook on group theory, which would help me to start QFT?
2
votes
1answer
157 views

How does $SU(2)$ group enters quantum mechanics?

What is the reason that $SU(2)$ group enters quantum mechanics in the context of rotation but not $SO(3)$? What really rotates and which space it rotates? It cannot be the physical electron that ...
3
votes
2answers
136 views

Unitrary groups and infinitesimal transformations - Schwingers way of deriving Lie groups

In Schwinger's source theory book, he suggests if $G_a$ are the hermitian generators of the Unitary group, then we have an infinitesimal transformation is given by : $$ G = \sum_{a=1}^n ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

Lie theory, Representations and particle physics

This is a question that has been posted at many different forums, I thought maybe someone here would have a better or more conceptual answer than I have seen before: Why do physicists care about ...
14
votes
2answers
752 views

Is the G2 Lie algebra useful for anything?

Seems like all the simpler Lie algebras have a use in one or another branch of theoretical physics. Even the exceptional E8 comes up in string theory. But G2? I've always wondered about that one. ...
12
votes
2answers
664 views

How to prove $(\gamma^\mu)^\dagger=\gamma^0\gamma^\mu\gamma^0$?

Studying the basics of spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ QFT, I encountered the gamma matrices. One important property is $(\gamma^5)^\dagger=\gamma^5$, the hermicity of $\gamma^5$. After some searching, I stumbled ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

How to prove that proper orthochronous Lorentz transformations form a group?

Proper orthochronous Loentz transform are Lorentz transforms that satisfy the conditions (sign convention of Minkowskian metric $+---$) $$\det \Lambda=+1, \qquad \Lambda^0{}_0 \geq +1.$$ How to prove ...
6
votes
3answers
290 views

Integrating the generator of the infinitesimal special conformal transformation

(c.f Di Francesco, Conformal Field Theory chapters 2 and 4). The expression for the full generator, $G_a$, of a transformation is $$iG_a \Phi = \frac{\delta x^{\mu}}{\delta \omega_{a}} \partial_{\mu} ...
9
votes
0answers
212 views

Differential geometry of Lie groups

In Weinberg's Classical Solutions of Quantum Field Theory, he states whilst introducing homotopy that groups, such as $SU(2)$, may be endowed with the structure of a smooth manifold after which they ...
7
votes
2answers
545 views

How can one see that the Hydrogen atom has $SO(4)$ symmetry?

For solving hydrogen atom energy level by $SO(4)$ symmetry, where does the symmetry come from? How can one see it directly from the Hamiltonian?
3
votes
0answers
58 views

Why is only the third component of weak isospin used as a conserved quantity?

Using Noether's theorem \begin{equation} \partial_0 \int d^3x \left(\frac{\partial L}{\partial(\partial_0\Psi)} \delta \Psi \right) = 0 \end{equation} we get three conserved quantites $Q_i$ from ...
6
votes
2answers
464 views

Lie group Homomorphism $SU(2) \to SO(3)$

The Lie algebra of $ \mathfrak{so(3)} $ and $ \mathfrak{su(2)} $ are respectively $$ [L_i,L_j] = i\epsilon_{ij}^{\;\;k}L_k $$ $$ [\frac{\sigma_i}{2},\frac{\sigma_j}{2}] = ...
10
votes
1answer
644 views

What is the difference between the properties of Electron spin and Photon polarization/helicity?

What is the difference between a photon's polarization/helicity and an electrons spin half? I know that the photon is spin 1 but isn't its polarization analogous to spin half? This question stems ...
7
votes
1answer
213 views

Representations of the Poincare group

Which type of states carry the irreducible unitary representations of the Poincare group? Multi-particle states or Single-particle states?
7
votes
1answer
488 views

Boosts are non-unitary!

The boost transformations are not unitary unlike rotations, the boost generators are not Hermitian. When this induces transformations in the Hilbert space, will those transformation be unitary? I ...
6
votes
2answers
206 views

Galilean, SE(3), Poincare groups - Central Extension

After having learnt that the Galilean (with its central extension) with an unitary operator $$ U = \sum_{i=1}^3\Big(\delta\theta_iL_i + \delta x_iP_i + \delta\lambda_iG_i +dtH\Big) + ...
5
votes
0answers
203 views

Fields with SO(3) diagonal subgroup symmetry

I read about a Higgs field $\vec{\phi}=\frac{1}{2}a\hat{r}\cdot \vec{\sigma}$ (in the context of 't Hooft-Polyakov monopole) with SO(3) diagonal subgroup symmetry consisting of simultaneous and equal ...
5
votes
2answers
555 views

Number of Components of a Spinor

I'm trying to develop my understanding of spinors. In quantum field theory I've learned that a spinor is a 4 component complex vector field on Minkowski space which transforms under the chiral ...
8
votes
1answer
154 views

Why $SU(3)$ and not $U(3)$?

Is there a good reason not to pick $U(3)$ as the colour group? Is there any experiment or intrinsic reason that would ruled out $U(3)$ as colour group instead?
3
votes
1answer
119 views

Difference Between Algebra of Infinitesimal Conformal Transformations & Conformal Algebra

in Blumenhagen Book on conformal field theory, It is mentioned that the algebra of infinitesimal conformal transformation is different from the conformal algebra and on page 11, conformal algebra is ...
8
votes
0answers
408 views

Why do we identify symmetric 2nd rank tensors with spin-2 particles in string theory?

I am going through Tong's lecture notes on String Theory and came across the following irrep decomposition (Chap 2, p.43) of the bosonic string first excited states: $$\text{traceless symmetric} ...
6
votes
2answers
889 views

Infinitesimal Lorentz transformation is antisymmetric

The Minkowski metric transforms under Lorentz transformations as \begin{align*}\eta_{\rho\sigma} = \eta_{\mu\nu}\Lambda^\mu_{\ \ \ \rho} \Lambda^\nu_{\ \ \ \sigma} \end{align*} I want to show that ...
4
votes
0answers
122 views

explicit matrix elements for a representation decomposed into subgroup by branching rules

I'm looking for a way to construct a representation for a simple Lie group such that one particular subgroup is manifest. I learned the branching rules from Cahn, Georgi and Slansky, but I'm still not ...
4
votes
1answer
370 views

Is the symmetry group of two spin 1/2 particles $SU(2) \times SU(2)$ or $SU(4)$?

This is a simple question. Please forgive me, as I am a lowly experimentalist. Suppose we have two free spin 1/2 particles, i.e. a 4-fold degenerate system. What is the set of symmetry operations ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Real representation is physically real?

In Peskin & Schroder, Introduction to Quantum Field Theory equation (15.82) states that $$ t^a_{\bar{r}} = -(t^a_{r})^* = (t^a_{r})^T $$ Why is the representation which satisfies $$ ...