Group isomorphism

Group isomorphism

In abstract algebra, a group isomorphism is a function between two groups that sets up a one-to-one correspondence between the elements of the groups in a way that respects the given group operations. If there exists an isomorphism between two groups, then the groups are called isomorphic. From the standpoint of group theory, isomorphic groups have the same properties and need not be distinguished.

Definition and notation

Given two groups (G, *) and (H, odot), a "group isomorphism" from (G, *) to (H, odot) is a bijective group homomorphism from G to H. Spelled out, this means that a group isomorphism is a bijective function f : G ightarrow H such that for all u and v in G it holds that: f(u * v) = f(u) odot f(v).

The two groups (G, *) and (H, odot) are isomorphic if an isomorphism exists. This is written:: (G, *) cong (H, odot)

Often shorter and simpler notations can be used. Often there is no ambiguity about the group operation, and it can be omitted:: G cong H

Sometimes one can even simply write G = H. Whether such a notation is possible without confusion or ambiguity depends on context. For example, the equals sign is not very suitable when the groups are both subgroups of the same group. See also the examples.

Conversely, given a group (G, *), a set H, and a bijection f : G ightarrow H, we can make H a group (H, odot) by defining: f(u) odot f(v) = f(u * v).

If H = G and odot = * then the bijection is an automorphism ("q.v.")

Intuitively, group theorists view two isomorphic groups as follows: For every element "g" of a group "G", there exists an element "h" of "G" such that "h" 'behaves in the same way' as "g" (operates with other elements of the group in the same way as "g"). For instance, if "g" generates "G", then so does "h". This implies in particular that "G" and "H" are in bijective correspondence. So the definition of an isomorphism is quite natural.


* The group of all real numbers with addition, (mathbb{R},+), is isomorphic to the group of all positive real numbers with multiplication (mathbb{R}+,×):: (mathbb{R}, +) cong (mathbb{R}^+, imes)

via the isomorphism: f(x) = e^x(see exponential function).

* The group mathbb{Z} of integers (with addition) is a subgroup of mathbb{R}, and the factor group mathbb{R}/mathbb{Z} is isomorphic to the group S^1 of complex numbers of absolute value 1 (with multiplication):: mathbb{R}/mathbb{Z} cong S^1An isomorphism is given by: f(x + mathbb{Z}) = e^{2 pi xi}for every x in mathbb{R}.

* The Klein four-group is isomorphic to the direct product of two copies of mathbb{Z}_2 = mathbb{Z}/2mathbb{Z} (see modular arithmetic), and can therefore be written mathbb{Z}_2 imes mathbb{Z}_2. Another notation is Dih2, because it is a dihedral group.

* If ("G", *) is an infinite cyclic group, then ("G", *) is isomorphic to the integers (with the addition operation). From n algebraic point of view, this means that the set of all integers (with the addition operation) is the 'only' infinite cyclic group.

Some groups can be proven to be isomorphic, relying on the axiom of choice, while it is even theoretically impossible to construct concrete isomorphisms. Examples:
* The group (mathbb{R}, +) is isomorphic to the group (mathbb{C}, +) of all complex numbers with addition.
* The group (mathbb{C}*, ·) of non-zero complex numbers with multiplication as operation is isomorphic to the group "S"1 mentioned above.


* The kernel of an isomorphism from ("G", *) to ("H", odot), is always {eG} where eG is the identity of the group ("G", *)

* If ("G", *) is isomorphic to ("H",odot), and if "G" is abelian then so is "H".

* If ("G", *) is a finite group that is isomorphic to ("H", odot) [where "f" is the isomorphism] , then if "a" belongs to "G" and has order "n", then so does "f(a)".

* If ("G", *) is a locally finite group that is isomorphic to ("H", odot), then ("H", odot) is also locally finite.

* The previous examples illustrate that 'group properties' are always preserved by isomorphisms.


From the definition, it follows that any isomorphism f : G ightarrow H will map the identity element of G to the identity element of H, : f(e_G) = e_Hthat it will map inverses to inverses,: f(u^{-1}) = left [ f(u) ight] ^{-1}and more generally, "n"th powers to "n"th powers,: f(u^n)= left [ f(u) ight] ^n for all u in G,and that the inverse map f^{-1} : H ightarrow G is also a group isomorphism.

The relation "being isomorphic" satisfies all the axioms of an equivalence relation. If f is an isomorphism between two groups G and H, then everything that is true about G that is only related to the group structure can be translated via f into a true ditto statement about H, and vice versa.


An isomorphism from a group (G,*) to itself is called an automorphism of this group. Thus it is a bijection f : G ightarrow G such that: f(u) * f(v) = f(u * v).

An automorphism always maps the identity to itself. The image under an automorphism of a conjugacy class is always a conjugacy class (the same or another). The image of an element has the same order as that element.

The composition of two automorphisms is again an automorphism, and with this operation the set of all automorphisms of a group G, denoted by Aut(G), forms itself a group, the "automorphism group" of G.

For all Abelian groups there is at least the automorphism that replaces the group elements by their inverses. However, in groups where all elements are equal to their inverse this is the trivial automorphism, e.g. in the Klein four-group. For that group all permutations of the three non-identity elements are automorphisms, so the automorphism group is isomorphic to S3 and Dih3.

In Zp for a prime number p, one non-identity element can be replaced by any other, with corresponding changes in the other elements. The automorphism group is isomorphic to Zp − 1. For example, for n = 7, multiplying all elements of Z7 by 3, modulo 7, is an automorphism of order 6 in the automorphism group, because 36 = 1 ( modulo 7 ), while lower powers do not give 1. Thus this automorphism generates Z6. There is one more automorphism with this property: multiplying all elements of Z7 by 5, modulo 7. Therefore, these two correspond to the elements 1 and 5 of Z6, in that order or conversely.

The automorphism group of Z6 is isomorphic to Z2, because only each of the two elements 1 and 5 generate Z6, so apart from the identity we can only interchange these.

The automorphism group of Z2 × Z2 × Z2 = Dih2 × Z2 has order 168, as can be found as follows. All 7 non-identity elements play the same role, so we can choose which plays the role of (1,0,0). Any of the remaining 6 can be chosen to play the role of (0,1,0). This determines which corresponds to (1,1,0). For (0,0,1) we can choose from 4, which determines the rest. Thus we have 7 × 6 × 4 = 168 automorphisms. They correspond to those of the Fano plane, of which the 7 points correspond to the 7 non-identity elements. The lines connecting three points correspond to the group operation: a, b, and c on one line means a+b=c, a+c=b, and b+c=a. See also general linear group over finite fields.

For Abelian groups all automorphisms except the trivial one are called outer automorphisms.

Non-Abelian groups have a non-trivial inner automorphism group, and possibly also outer automorphisms.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Group isomorphism problem — In abstract algebra, the group isomorphism problem is the decision problem of determining whether two group presentations present isomorphic groups.The isomorphism problem was identified by Max Dehn in 1911 as one of three fundamental decision… …   Wikipedia

  • Isomorphism (disambiguation) — Isomorphism may refer to:* Isomorphism, in mathematics, a mapping that preserves the structure * Group isomorphism, in mathematics, a mapping that preserves the group structure * Ring isomorphism, in mathematics, a mapping that preserves both the …   Wikipedia

  • Group — can refer to: Sociology * Group action (sociology) * Group behaviour * Groups of people, a description of various different human groups ** Peer group ** Workgroup * Group dynamics * Group (sociology), a sub set of a culture or of a society *… …   Wikipedia

  • Isomorphism — In abstract algebra, an isomorphism (Greek: ἴσος isos equal , and μορφή morphe shape ) is a bijective map f such that both f and its inverse f −1 are homomorphisms, i.e., structure preserving mappings.In the more general setting of category… …   Wikipedia

  • Group homomorphism — In mathematics, given two groups ( G , *) and ( H , ·), a group homomorphism from ( G , *) to ( H , ·) is a function h : G → H such that for all u and v in G it holds that: h(u*v) = h(u) h(v) where the group operation on the left hand side of the …   Wikipedia

  • Isomorphism problem — The isomorphism problem in mathematics may refer to* The graph isomorphism problem * The group isomorphism problem …   Wikipedia

  • Group theory — is a mathematical discipline, the part of abstract algebra that studies the algebraic structures known as groups. The development of group theory sprang from three main sources: number theory, theory of algebraic equations, and geometry. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Isomorphism theorem — In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, the isomorphism theorems are three theorems that describe the relationship between quotients, homomorphisms, and subobjects. Versions of the theorems exist for groups, rings, vector spaces, modules,… …   Wikipedia

  • Isomorphism of categories — In category theory, two categories C and D are isomorphic if there exist functors F : C rarr; D and G : D rarr; C which are mutually inverse to each other, i.e. FG = 1 D (the identity functor on D ) and GF = 1 C . This means that both the objects …   Wikipedia

  • Group extension — In mathematics, a group extension is a general means of describing a group in terms of a particular normal subgroup and quotient group. If Q and N are two groups, then G is an extension of Q by N if there is a short exact sequence:1 ightarrow N… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”