Questions tagged [representation-theory]

The systematic study of group representations, which describe abstract groups in terms of linear transformations of vector spaces, such that group elements or their generators are represented as matrices, reducing group-theoretic problems to linear-algebraic ones.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
63
votes
21answers
32k 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 ...
57
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
53
votes
1answer
4k views

Why exactly do sometimes universal covers, and sometimes central extensions feature in the application of a symmetry group to quantum physics?

There seem to be two different things one must consider when representing a symmetry group in quantum mechanics: The universal cover: For instance, when representing the rotation group $\mathrm{SO}(3)...
49
votes
2answers
8k 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 ...
38
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
34
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there an elegant proof of the existence of Majorana spinors?

Almost all standard sources on the existence of Majorana spinors (e.g. Appendix B.1 to Polchinski's "String Theory", Vol. 2) do so in a way I consider inherently ugly: A priori, we are dealing with ...
30
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the difference between a spinor and a vector or a tensor?

Why do we call a 1/2 spin particle satisfying the Dirac equation a spinor, and not a vector or a tensor?
29
votes
4answers
8k views

Irreducible tensors concept

This might be a little naive question, but I am having difficulty grasping the concept of irreducible tensors. Particularly, why do we decompose tensors into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts? I have ...
28
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
1k 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-...
27
votes
5answers
30k views

Adding 3 electron spins

I've learned how to add two 1/2-spins, which you can do with C-G-coefficients. There are 4 states (one singlet, three triplet states). States are symmetric or antisymmetric and the quantum numbers ...
25
votes
1answer
4k views

Mathematically, what is color charge?

A similar question was asked here, but the answer didn't address the following, at least not in a way that I could understand. Electric charge is simple - it's just a real scalar quantity. Ignoring ...
25
votes
4answers
6k views

Dimension of Dirac $\gamma$ matrices

While studying the Dirac equation, I came across this enigmatic passage on p. 551 in From Classical to Quantum Mechanics by G. Esposito, G. Marmo, G. Sudarshan regarding the $\gamma$ matrices: $$\...
25
votes
7answers
4k 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. ...
24
votes
2answers
3k views

Introduction to spinors in physics, and their relation to representations

First, I shall say that I am familiar with the intuitive idea that a spinor is like a vector (or tensor) that only transforms "up to a sign" when acted on by the rotation group. I have even rotated a ...
24
votes
1answer
3k views

What really are superselection sectors and what are they used for?

When reading the term superselection sector, I always wrongly thought this must have something to do with supersymmetry ... DON'T laugh at me ... ;-) But now I have read in this answer, that for ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Vibrational anharmonic coupling and noise-induced spontaneous symmetry breaking in a hexagonal finite mechanical lattice

Happy holidays, everyone! The following is part question, part visual gallery, and part classical mechanics problem. Inspired by snow over the weekend I began simulating the vibrations of the ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

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 $...
22
votes
5answers
380 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
votes
2answers
2k views

Wick rotation and spinors

I am quite familiar with use of Wick rotations in QFT, but one thing annoys me: let's say we perform it for treating more conveniently (ie. making converge) a functional integral containing spinors; ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
20
votes
6answers
4k views

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
votes
2answers
3k views

Can any rank tensor be decomposed into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts?

I know that rank 2 tensors can be decomposed as such. But I would like to know if this is possible for any rank tensors?
19
votes
3answers
2k 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 $\mathrm{SU}(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does spin have a discrete spectrum?

Why is it that unlike other quantum properties such as momentum and velocity, which usually are given through (probabilistic) continuous values, spin has a (probabilistic) discrete spectrum?
18
votes
2answers
5k views

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
votes
4answers
3k 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}} = \...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

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 $...
18
votes
1answer
578 views

Why do we classify states under covering groups instead of the group itself?

Why do we always classify states under covering group representations instead of the group itself? For example see the following picture I lifted from 'Symmetry in physics' by Gross So in the first ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

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}+\...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Why particles are thought as irreducible representation in plain English?

I'm a PhD student in mathematics and I have no problem in understanding what irriducible representation are. I mean that the mathematical side is not a particular problem. Nevertheless I have some ...
17
votes
2answers
619 views

When are there enough Casimirs?

I know that a Casimir for a Lie algebra $\mathfrak{g}$ is a central element of the universal enveloping algebra. For example in $\mathfrak{so}(3)$ the generators are the angular momentum operators $...
17
votes
2answers
6k views

Proof that the One-Dimensional Simple Harmonic Oscillator is Non-Degenerate?

The standard treatment of the one-dimensional quantum simple harmonic oscillator (SHO) using the raising and lowering operators arrives at the countable basis of eigenstates $\{\vert n \rangle\}_{n = ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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. ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do we say that irreducible representation of Poincare group represents the one-particle state?

Only because Rep is unitary, so saves positive-definite norm (for possibility density), Casimir operators of the group have eigenvalues $m^{2}$ and $m^2s(s + 1)$, so characterizes mass and spin, and ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are non-Abelian gauge theories Lorentz invariant quantum mechanically?

I seem to be missing something regarding why Yang-Mills theories are Lorentz invariant quantum mechanically. Start by considering QED. If we just study the physics of a massless $U(1)$ gauge field ...
16
votes
1answer
248 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 $SU(3)$. ...
15
votes
4answers
7k views

Trace and adjoint representation of $SU(N)$

In the adjoint representation of $SU(N)$, the generators $t^a_G$ are chosen as $$ (t^a_G)_{bc}=-if^{abc} $$ The following identity can be found in Taizo Muta's book "Foundations of Quantum ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Why isn't there a second baryon octet?

Let's temporarily ignore spin. If 3 denotes the standard representation of $SU(3)_F$, 1 the trivial rep, 8 the adjoint rep and 10 the symmetric cube, then it's well-known that $$ 3 \otimes 3 \otimes ...
15
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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 $\mathbb{...
15
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...

1 2 3 4 5 28