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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51
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10answers
5k views

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

Noether's theorem states that, for every continuous symmetry of an action, there exists a conserved quantity, e.g. energy conservation for time invariance, charge conservation for $U(1)$. Is there any ...
43
votes
16answers
14k 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 ...
35
votes
0answers
1k views

Orbits of maximally entangled mixed states

It is well known (Please, see for example Geometry of quantum states by Bengtsson and Życzkowski ) that the set of $N$-dimensional density matrices is stratified by the adjoint action of $U(N)$, where ...
31
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 ...
30
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
25
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 ...
24
votes
1answer
3k 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 Show, by explicit calculation, that $(1/2,1/2)$ is the Lorentz Vector. I see that the ...
24
votes
5answers
2k views

Elegant approaches to quantum field theory

I have been reading Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development by L. Ballentine. I like the way everything is deduced starting from symmetry principles. I was wondering if anyone familiar with the book ...
21
votes
5answers
278 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 $|\phi\rangle=...
21
votes
2answers
760 views

Why are only linear representations of the Lorentz group considered as fundamental quantum fields?

As described in many Q&As around here, fundamental quantum fields are expressed as irreducible representations of the Lorentz group. This argument is entirely clear - we live in a Lorentz-...
21
votes
7answers
2k 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. ...
20
votes
1answer
213 views

Any use for $F_4$ in hep-th?

In high energy physics, the use of the classical Lie groups are common place, and in the Grand Unification the use of $E_{6,7,8}$ is also common place. In string theory $G_2$ is sometimes utilized, ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

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

In John Preskill's review of monopoles he states on p. 471 Nowadays, we have another way of understanding why electric charge is quantized. Charge is quantized if the electromagnetic $U(l)_{\rm em}...
17
votes
2answers
932 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. ...
17
votes
2answers
188 views

Can symmetry generators be used for quantization?

Take the Poincaré group for example. The conservation of rest-mass $m_0$ is generated by the invariance with respect to $p^2 = -\partial_\mu\partial^\mu$. Now if one simply claims The state where ...
17
votes
3answers
705 views

Homotopy $\pi_4(SU(2))=\mathbb{Z}_2$

Recently I read a paper using $$\pi_4(SU(2))=\mathbb{Z}_2.$$ Do you have any visualization or explanation of this result? More generally, how do physicists understand or calculate high dimension ...
17
votes
1answer
596 views

Why do we need complex representations in Grand Unified Theories?

EDIT4: I think I was now able to track down where this dogma originally came from. Howard Georgi wrote in TOWARDS A GRAND UNIFIED THEORY OF FLAVOR There is a deeper reason to require ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What does a $SU(2)$ doublet really mean?

What do we really mean when we say that the neutron and proton wavefunctions together form an $SU(2)$ doublet? What is the significance of this? What does this transformation really doing to the ...
16
votes
1answer
546 views

How to evaluate this sum of coupling coefficients?

I would like to evaluate the following summation of Clebsch-Gordan and Wigner 6-j symbols in closed form: $$\sum_{l,m} C_{l_2,m_2,l_1,m_1}^{l,m} C_{\lambda_2,\mu_2,\lambda_1,\mu_1}^{l,m} \left\{ \...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the Symmetry Group for the Electroweak force $SU(2) \times U(1)$ 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
965 views

Can someone please qualitatively explain unitary group from a physics perspective?

Unitary Groups is the most mysterious thing for me when studying physics. All my physics endeavor ends when author starts talking about unitary groups. This is often the case because in a lot of the ...
15
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
121 views

Counting complete sets of mutually unbiased bases composed of stabilizer states

Consider $N$ qubits. There are many complete sets of $2^N+1$ mutually unbiased bases formed exclusively of stabilizer states. How many? Each complete set can be constructed as follows: partition the ...
14
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
583 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Hypercharge for $U(1)$ in $SU(2)\times U(1)$ model

I understand that the fundamental representation of $U(1)$ amounts to a multiplication by a phase factor, e.g. EM. I thought that when it is extended to higher dimensional representations, it would ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

$\mathrm{SU(3)}$ decomposition of $\mathbf{3} \otimes \mathbf{\bar{3}} = \mathbf{8} \oplus \mathbf{1}$?

I have a question about the tensor decomposition of $\mathrm{SU(3)}$. According to Georgi (page 142 and 143), a tensor $T^i{}_j$ decomposes as: \begin{equation} \mathbf{3} \otimes \mathbf{\bar{3}} = \...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

In what sense is the renormalization group equation a group?

The renormalization group equation is given by: \begin{equation} \left[\mu \frac{\partial}{\partial \mu} + \beta \frac{\partial}{\partial g} + m \gamma_{m^2} \frac{\partial}{\partial m} - n \gamma_d \...
13
votes
1answer
207 views

Highest symmetric non-maximally symmetric spacetime

What is the highest number of symmetries (Killing vectors) that a (4-dimensional) spacetime can have without being maximally symmetric? From what I can see, it seems to be 7 (which includes the ...
13
votes
1answer
740 views

Is this a quaternion representation of the equations of motion of General Relativity?

In The Quaternion Group and Modern Physics by P.R. Girard, the quaternion form of the general relativistic equation of motion is derived from $du'/ds = (d a / d s ) u {a_c}^* + a u ( d {a_c}^* / ...
12
votes
6answers
3k 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?
12
votes
3answers
4k views

How to derive addition of velocities without the Lorentz transformation?

Lorentz contraction and time dilatation can be deduced without Lorentz transformation. Can you deduce also the theorem of addition of velocities $$w~=~\dfrac{u+v}{1+uv/c^2}$$ without Lorentz ...
12
votes
3answers
386 views

Why gauge $SU(N)$ and not $SO(N)$?

When building models people typically gauge $SU(N)$ but rarely try to gauge $SO(N)$ (the only example I know about is $SO(10)$, but even that isn't quite $SO(10)$ but actually its double cover). At ...
12
votes
1answer
216 views

Triality and charge

I have a few questions about triality for the representations of $SU(3)$. (I have seen the wikipedia page, but it does not make the connection with physics.) What is triality, how can you compute ...
12
votes
2answers
396 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k 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 \Lambda^T=...
11
votes
2answers
1k 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 $SU(5)$"...
11
votes
2answers
748 views

Lie algebra in simple terms [closed]

My question is regarding a vector space and Lie algebra. Why is it that whenever I read advanced physics texts I always hear about Lie algebra? What does it mean to "endow a vector space with a lie ...
11
votes
3answers
1k 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?
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does photon have only two possible eigenvalues of helicity? [duplicate]

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 ...
11
votes
3answers
283 views

Group representations as vectors and isomorphism between weights and matrix generators

This might be something basic, but it is unclear to me. So I am used to work with representations of groups as matrices. These matrices represent the structure of the Lie algebra by satisfying the ...
10
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
909 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
313 views

What's a lepto-diquark?

This questions refers to Slansky's Group theory for unified model building, page 106 of chapter 7. He assigns the weight $(1)(01)$, which is stepwise projected from $E_6$ to $SU(2)\times SU(3)$, to a ...
10
votes
2answers
817 views

Geometric/Visual Interpretation of Virasoro Algebra

I've been trying to gain some intuition about Virasoro Algebras, but have failed so far. The Mathematical Definition seems to be clear (as found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virasoro_algebra). I ...
10
votes
2answers
488 views

Vector spaces for the irreducible representations of the Lorentz Group

EDIT: The vector space for the $(\frac{1}{2},0)$ Representation is $\mathbb{C}^2$ as mentioned by Qmechanic in the comments to his answer below! The vector spaces for the other representations remain ...
10
votes
1answer
333 views

Assumptions of the Coleman-Mandula Theorem

In the original paper All Possible Symmetries of the S-Matrix, by S. Coleman and J. Mandula, they prove their famous 'no go' theorem regarding the possible extensions of Poincaré symmetry. The ...