Questions tagged [group-theory]

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. Groups are used in physics to describe symmetry operations of physical systems.

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83
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10answers
11k 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 ...
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0answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
47
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2answers
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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 ...
47
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3answers
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Why are relativistic quantum field theories so much more restrictive than non-relativistic ones?

Part of the reason that relativistic QFT is so hard to learn is that there are piles of 'no-go theorems' that rule out simple physical examples and physical intuition. A very common answer to the ...
36
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3answers
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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 ...
34
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5answers
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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 ...
31
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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 ...
28
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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 ...
28
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3answers
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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-...
27
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2answers
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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 ...
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Rigorous 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 ...
26
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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 $U(l)_{\rm em}$...
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What precisely is a *classical* spin-1/2 particle?

I was recently having a Twitter conversation with a UC Riverside Prof. John Carlos Baez about Geometric Quantization, and he said (about his work) that "Right. For example, you can get the ...
25
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7answers
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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. ...
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4answers
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Why do all fields in a QFT transform like *irreducible* representations of some group?

Emphasis is on the irreducible. I get what's special about them. But is there some principle that I'm missing, that says it can only be irreducible representations? Or is it just 'more beautiful' and ...
22
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5answers
375 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=...
22
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2answers
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Dirac spinors under Parity transformation or what do the Weyl spinors in a Dirac spinor really stand for?

My problem is understanding the transformation behaviour of a Dirac spinor (in the Weyl basis) under parity transformations. The standard textbook answer is $$\Psi^P = \gamma_0 \Psi = \begin{...
21
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3answers
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Why is the Yang-Mills gauge group assumed compact and semi-simple?

What is the motivation for including the compactness and semi-simplicity assumptions on the groups that one gauges to obtain Yang-Mills theories? I'd think that these hypotheses lead to physically "...
21
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3answers
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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 ...
21
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2answers
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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 \...
20
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6answers
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Why is there this relationship between quaternions and Pauli matrices?

I've just started studying quantum mechanics, and I've come across this correlation between Pauli matrices ($\sigma_i$) and quaternions which I can't grasp: namely, that $i\sigma_1$, $i\sigma_2$ and $...
20
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2answers
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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 ...
20
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6answers
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Why is $\theta \over 2$ used for a Bloch sphere instead of $\theta$?

I'm a beginner in studying quantum info, and I'm a little confused about the representation of a qubit with a Bloch Sphere. Wikipedia says that we can use $$\lvert\Psi\rangle=\cos\frac{\theta}{2} \...
20
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1answer
332 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, ...
19
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3answers
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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 $\mathrm{SU}(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ ...
18
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2answers
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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
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2answers
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What does a $\rm SU(2)$ isospin doublet really mean?

What do we really mean when we say that the neutron and proton wavefunctions together form an $\rm SU(2)$ isospin doublet? What is the significance of this? What does this transformation really doing ...
18
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2answers
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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 ...
18
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3answers
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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 ...
17
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7answers
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How is it that angular velocities are vectors, while rotations aren't?

Does anyone have an intuitive explanation of why this is the case?
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3answers
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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
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3answers
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$\mathrm{SU(3)}$ 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}} = \...
17
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3answers
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Why is the “actual” gauge group of the standard model $SU(3) \times SU(2) \times U(1) /N$?

In this paper John Baez says the actual gauge group of the standard model is $SU(3) \times SU(2) \times U(1) /N$. Can someone explain the logic behind this line of thought? Firstly, does this group $...
17
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2answers
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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 ...
16
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3answers
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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 ...
16
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1answer
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Different representations of the Lorentz algebra

I've found many definitions of Lorentz generators that satisfy the Lorentz algebra: $$[L_{\mu\nu},L_{\rho\sigma}]=i(\eta_{\mu\sigma}L_{\nu\rho}-\eta_{\mu\rho}L_{\nu\sigma}-\eta_{\nu\sigma}L_{\mu\rho}+\...
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3answers
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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=...
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2answers
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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. ...
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3answers
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Global vs. local gauge group in mathematical sense - physics examples?

Upon reading about the principal bundle picture of (quantum) field theory I encountered two different definitions of the gauge group: Local gauge group $G$. Corresponds to the fibers of the $G$-...
16
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2answers
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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 ...
16
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1answer
245 views

Degeneracy in mass of $8$ and $27$ reps of $SU(3)$ in Coleman's Aspects of Symmetry

In Coleman's Aspect of symmetry he proposes an amusing problem in the first chapter. It asks us to consider a set of eight pseudo-scalar fields transforming in the adjoint representation of $SU(3)$. ...
16
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1answer
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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\{ \...
16
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0answers
451 views

Extended Born relativity, Nambu 3-form and ternary (n-ary) symmetry

Background: Classical Mechanics is based on the Poincare-Cartan two-form $$\omega_2=dx\wedge dp$$ where $p=\dot{x}$. Quantum mechanics is secretly a subtle modification of this. By the other hand, ...
15
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3answers
883 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 ...
15
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3answers
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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
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2answers
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Can we think of the EM tensor as an infinitesimal generator of Lorentz transformations?

I'm asking this question because I'm feeling a bit confused about how Lorentz transformations relate to the electromagnetic tensor, and hope someone can help me clear out my possible misunderstandings....
15
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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3answers
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Why are band maxima / minima often (always?) at high-symmetry points?

(inspired by this question.) In every semiconductor that I can think of, the valence band maximum and conduction band minimum are at a high-symmetry point in the Brillouin Zone (BZ). Often the BZ ...