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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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 ...
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 ...
22
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 ...
22
votes
0answers
398 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
1answer
149 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
5answers
972 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
795 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. ...
17
votes
2answers
157 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
463 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
327 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
86 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 ...
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. ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
542 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
0answers
322 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\{ ...
11
votes
2answers
503 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
448 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
398 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}} = ...
10
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
350 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
272 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
167 views

From representations to field theories

The one-particle states as well as the fields in quantum field theory are regarded as representations of Poincare group, e.g. scalar, spinor, and vector representations. Is there any systematical ...
9
votes
1answer
251 views

Why does the eightfold way work?

Last year I attended an introductory particle physics course, in which the Eigthfold Way for classifying hadrons has been discussed. The main idea consists in grouping hadrons in multiplets (i.e ...
9
votes
2answers
367 views

How to model a symmetry using Lie Groups?

I have been reading lately about Lie groups, and although all books keep listing the groups, and talk about Lie algebras and all that, one thing I still don't know how is it made, and I guess it's the ...
9
votes
5answers
813 views

Simple applications of group theory which can be understood by a senior undergrad

I am looking for references (books or web links) which have "simple" examples on the use of group theory in physics or science in general. I have looked at many books on the subject unfortunately ...
9
votes
3answers
220 views

The $U(1)$ charge of a representation

My question is about the reduction of a representation of a group $SU(5)$ to irreps of the subgroup $SU(3)\times SU(2) \times U(1)$. For example the weights of the 10 dimensional representation of ...
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
549 views

Schwinger representation of operators for n-particle 2-mode symmetric states

A bosonic (i.e. permutation-symmetric) state of $n$ particles in $2$ modes can be written as a homogenous polynomial in the creation operators, that is $$\left(c_0 \hat{a}^{\dagger n} + c_1 ...
9
votes
0answers
152 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 ...
9
votes
0answers
511 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 ...
8
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?
8
votes
3answers
880 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 ...
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 $$[J_{ab},J_{cd}] ~=~ i(\eta_{ad} J_{bc} + \eta_{bc} J_{ad} - \eta_{ac} J_{bd} - \eta_{bd}J_{ac}),$$ ...
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 ...
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
725 views

Modern and complete references for the $k\cdot p$ method?

I've recently started studying the $k\cdot p$ method for describing electronic bandstructures near the centre of the Brillouin zone and I've been finding it hard to find any pedagogical references on ...
8
votes
3answers
186 views

What are particle multiplets in the Standard Model?

The particles of the standard model are often displayed in groupings known as multiplets. I know that this somehow relates to the underlying symmetries of the standard model, which can be viewed as ...
8
votes
4answers
259 views

What does “carry a representation” mean (in SUSY algebra)?

I come from a maths background and am struggling with some of the more physical texts on SUSY. In particular they claim that the fermionic generators $Q_A^i$ carry a representation of the Lorentz ...
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?
8
votes
2answers
122 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
265 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
153 views

Rank of the Poincare group

There are two Casimirs of the Poincare group: $$ C_1 = P^\mu P_\mu, \quad C_2 = W^\mu W_\mu $$ with the Pauli-Lubanski vector $W_\mu$. This implies the Poincare group has rank 2. Is there a way to ...
8
votes
2answers
197 views

Wilson Loops in Chern-Simons theory with non-compact gauge groups

VEVs of Wilson loops in Chern-Simons theory with compact gauge groups give us colored Jones, HOMFLY and Kauffman polynomials. I have not seen the computation for Wilson loops in Chern-Simons theory ...
8
votes
1answer
145 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 ...