Center (group theory)

In abstract algebra, the center of a group "G" is the set "Z"("G") of all elements in "G" which commute with all the elements of "G". That is,

:Z(G) = {z in G | gz = zg ;forall,g in G}.

Note that "Z"("G") is a subgroup of "G", because
# "Z"("G") contains "e", the identity element of "G", because "eg" = "g" = "ge" for all "g" ∈ G by definition of "e", so by definition of "Z"("G"), "e" ∈ "Z"("G");
# If "x" and "y" are in "Z"("G"), then ("xy")"g" = "x"("yg") = "x"("gy") = ("xg")"y" = ("gx")"y" = "g"("xy") for each "g" ∈ "G", and so "xy" is in "Z"("G") as well (i.e., "Z"("G") exhibits closure);
# If "x" is in "Z"("G"), then "gx" = "xg", and multiplying twice, once on the left and once on the right, by "x"−1, gives "x"−1"g" = "gx"−1 — so "x"−1 ∈ "Z"("G").

Moreover, "Z"("G") is an abelian subgroup of "G", a normal subgroup of "G", and even a strictly characteristic subgroup of "G", but not always fully characteristic.

The center of "G" is all of "G" if and only if "G" is an abelian group. At the other extreme, a group is said to be centerless if "Z"("G") is trivial, i.e. consists only of the identity element.


Consider the map "f": "G" → Aut("G") from "G" to the automorphism group of "G" defined by "f"("g") = "g", where "g" is the automorphism of "G" defined by :phi_g(h) = ghg^{-1} ,.This is a group homomorphism, and its kernel is precisely the center of "G", and its image is called the inner automorphism group of "G", denoted Inn("G"). By the first isomorphism theorem we get:G/Z(G)cong m{Inn}(G).The cokernel of this map is the group operatorname{Out}(G) of outer automorphisms, and these form the exact sequence::1 o Z(G) o G o operatorname{Aut}(G) o operatorname{Out}(G) o 1.


* The center of the group mbox{GL}_n(F) of "n"-by-"n" invertible matrices over the field F is the collection of scalar matrices { sI_n | s in Fsetminus{0} }.
* The center of the orthogonal group O(n, F) is { I_n,-I_n }.
* The center of the quaternion group Q = {1, -1, i, -i, j, -j, k, -k} is {1, -1}.
* The center of the multiplicative group of non-zero quaternions is the multiplicative group of non-zero real numbers.
* Using the class equation one can prove that the center of any non-trivial finite p-group is non-trivial.
* Non-abelian simple groups are centerless.
* If the quotient group G/Z(G) is cyclic, G is abelian.

Higher centers

Quotienting out by the center of a group yields a sequence of groups called the upper central series::G_0 = G o G_1 = G_0/Z(G_0) o G_2 = G_1/Z(G_1) o cdotsThe kernel of the map G o G_i is the "i"th center of "G" (second center, third center, etc.), and is denoted Z^i(G).Following this definition, one can define the 0th center of a group to be the identity subgroup. This can be continued to transfinite ordinals by transfinite induction; the union of all the higher centers is called the hypercenter. [This union will include transfinite terms if the UCS does not stabilize at a finite stage.]

The ascending chain of subgroups:1 leq Z(G) leq Z^2(G) leq cdotsstabilizes at "i" (equivalently, Z^i(G) = Z^{i+1}(G)) if and only if G_i is centerless.


* For a centerless group, all higher centers are zero, which is the case Z^0(G)=Z^1(G) of stabilization.
* By Grün's lemma, the quotient of a perfect group by its center is centerless, hence all higher centers equal the center. This is a case of stabilization at Z^1(G)=Z^2(G).


ee also

*center (algebra)
*centralizer and normalizer
*conjugacy class.

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