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Math 741

Fall 2016


Prof: Jordan Ellenberg

Grader: Eric Ramos.

Homework will be due on Wednesdays.

JE's office hours: Monday 12pm-1pm (right after class)

This course, the first semester of the introductory graduate sequence in algebra, will cover the basic theory of groups, group actions, representations, linear and multilinear algebra, and the beginnings of ring theory. A good understanding of the material of 741 and 742 are more than enough preparation for the qualifying exam in algebra.


This is a list of definitions and facts (not complete) with an estimate for when we'll encounter them in the course.


Definition of group. Associativity. Inverse.

Examples of groups: GL_n(R). GL_n(Z). Z/nZ. R. Z. R^*. The free group F_k on k generators.

Homomorphisms. The homomorphisms from F_k to G are in bijection with G^k. Isomorphisms.


The symmetric group (or permutation group) S_n on n letters. Cycle decomposition of a permutation. Order of a permutation. Conjugacy classes of permutations.

Subgroups. Left and right cosets. Lagrange's Theorem. Cyclic groups. The order of an element of a finite group is a divisor of the order of the group.

The sign homomorphism S_n -> +-1.


Normal subgroups. The quotient of a group by a normal subgroup. The first isomorphism theorem. Examples of S_n -> +-1 and S_4 -> S_3 with kernel V_4, the Klein 4-group.

Centralizers and centers. Abelian groups. The center of SL_n(R) is either 1 or +-1.

Groups with presentations. The infinite dihedral group <x,y | x^2 = 1, y^2 = 1>.


More on groups with presentations.

Second and third isomorphism theorems.

Semidirect products.


Group actions, orbits, and stabilizers.

Orbit-stabilizer theorem.

Cayley's theorem.

Cauchy's theorem.


Applications of orbit-stabilizer theorem (p-groups have nontrivial center, first Sylow theorem.)

Classification of finite abelian groups and finitely generated abelian groups.

Composition series and the Jordan-Holder theorem (which we state but don't prove.)

The difference between knowing the composition factors and knowing the group (e.g. all p-groups of the same order have the same composition factors.)


Simplicity of A_n.

Nilpotent groups (main example: the Heisenberg group)

Derived series and lower central series.

Category theory 101: Definition of category and functor. Some examples. A group is a groupoid with one object.


Introduction to representation theory.


Ring theory 101: Rings, ring homomorphisms, ideals, isomorphism theorems. Examples: fields, Z, the Hamilton quaternions, matrix rings, rings of polynomials and formal power series, quadratic integer rings, group rings. Integral domains. Maximal and prime ideals. The nilradical.

Module theory 101: Modules, module homomorphisms, submodules, isomorphism theorems. Noetherian modules and Zorn's lemma. Direct sums and direct products of arbitrary collections of modules.

HOMEWORK 1 (due Sep 14)

1. Suppose that H_1 and H_2 are subgroups of a group G. Prove that the intersection of H_1 and H_2 is a subgroup of G.

2. Recall that S_3 (the symmetric group) is the group of permutations of the set {1..3}. List all the subgroups of S_3.

3. We can define an equivalence relation on rational numbers by declaring two rational numbers to be equal whenever they differ by an integer. We denote the set of equivalence classes by Q/Z. The operation of addition makes Q/Z into a group.

a) For each n, prove that Q/Z has a subgroup of order n.

b) Prove that Q/Z is a divisible group: that is, if x is an element of Q/Z and n is an integer, there exists an element y of Q/Z such that ny = x. (Note that we write the operation in this group as addition rather than multiplication, which is why we write ny for the n-fold product of y with itself rather than y^n)

c) Prove that Q/Z is not finitely generated. (Hint: prove that if x_1, .. x_d is a finite subset of Q/Z, the subgroup of Q/Z generated by x_1, ... x_d is finite.)

d) Conclude that Q is not finitely generated.

4. We will prove that there is no homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z except the one which sends all of SL_2(Z) to 0. Suppose f is a homomorphism from SL_2(Z) to Z.

a) Let U1 be the upper triangular matrix with 1's on the diagonal and a 1 in the upper right hand corner, as in class, and let U2 be the transpose of U1, also as in class. Show that (U1 U2^{-1})^6 = identity (JING 1, TAO 0) and explain why this implies that f(U1) = f(U2).

b) Show that there is a matrix A in SL_2(Z) such that A U1 A^{-1} = U2^{-1}. (Recall that we say U1 and U2^{-1} are "conjugate".) Explain why this also implies that f(U1) = -f(U2).

c) Explain why a) and b) imply that f must be identically 0.

5. How many homomorphisms are there from the free group F_2 on two generators to S_3? How many of these homomorphisms are surjective?