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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25
votes
13answers
4k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
583 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
460 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
589 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 $$[J_{ab},J_{cd}] ~=~ i(\eta_{ad} J_{bc} + \eta_{bc} J_{ad} - \eta_{ac} J_{bd} - \eta_{bd}J_{ac}),$$ ...
33
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 ...
18
votes
6answers
788 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. ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
646 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
442 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
979 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
404 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
877 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
444 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
403 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
2answers
360 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
519 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
344 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
202 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
2answers
121 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 ...
21
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 ...
13
votes
2answers
706 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. ...
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
136 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
1answer
349 views

What is the meaning of non-compactness in the context of $U(1)$ in gauge theories?

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
360 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?
9
votes
2answers
404 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
1answer
230 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
2answers
254 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}] = ...
6
votes
2answers
151 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
2answers
470 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
134 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
84 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
145 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
495 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
1answer
277 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
217 views

Is the spin-rotation symmetry of Kitaev model $D_2$ or $Q_8$?

It is known that the Kitaev Hamiltonian and its spin-liquid ground state both break the $SU(2)$ spin-rotation symmetry. So what's the spin-rotation-symmetry group for the Kitaev model? It's obvious ...
3
votes
3answers
560 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
103 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 $$ ...
2
votes
1answer
130 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
73 views

Matrix separability preservation under conjugation?

Someone know any paper about matrix separability preservation under conjugation? A well know result is that Clifford group preserve the Pauli group under conjugation or, in other words: $C(P_{1} ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

What is an isoscalar factor?

I need to find a definition for "the isoscalar factors of 3j-symbols for the restriction $SO(n)\supset SO(n-1)$...denoted by brackets with a composite subscript $(n: n-1)$..." They are given as: $$ ...
0
votes
2answers
127 views

Reasons for choosing $SU(3)$ as the color group vs. $SO(4)$

What are the reasons that $SU(3)$ is used for QCD? Why wouldn't the simpler & smaller group $SO(4)$ make a better candidate?
21
votes
5answers
158 views

Which symmetric pure qudit states can be reached within local operations?

There are two pure symmetric states $|\psi\rangle$ and $|\phi\rangle$ of $n$ qudits. Is there any known set of invariants $\{I_i:i\in\{1,\ldots,k\}\}$ which is equal for both states iff ...
9
votes
0answers
510 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
471 views

Do Lorentz Boosts in the same direction form a group?

I know that two consecutive Lorentz Boosts in different directions produce a rotation and therefore Lorentz Boosts don't form a group. But, my intuition tells me that, Lorentz Boosts in the same ...
2
votes
1answer
245 views

What exactly means “is a singlet under $SU(N)$” [duplicate]

I don't get a grip of what that exactly means. What IS an abstract singlet, doublet,... under $SU(N)$ or other groups?
2
votes
2answers
393 views

Two ways to form SU(2) singlets?

I am trying to reconcile the two ways of forming SU(2) singlets out of a pair of doublets. Method (1): If $v=\begin{pmatrix}v^1\\ v^2\end{pmatrix}$ and $w=\begin{pmatrix}w^1\\ w^2\end{pmatrix}$ are ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

Charge of a field under the action of a group

What does it mean for a field (say, $\phi$) to have a charge (say, $Q$) under the action of a group (say, $U(1)$)?