You are on page 1of 5

9

Homomorphisms

Up to now, we have been discussing the groups and their structure. Now we turn to the
discussion of functions from one group to another, which respect the group structure.
These functions are called homomorphisms.

9.1

Homomorphisms: denition and examples

Denition 9.1. A map from one group G to another group G is a homomorphism if


(ab) = (a)(b)

(9.1)

for all a, b G.
Remark.
1. Note that in the l.h.s. of (9.1), the product ab is taken in G, whereas in the
r.h.s. the product (a)(b) is taken in G .
2. Clearly, an isomorphism between two groups is a special example of a homomorphism.
3. For any groups G and G there is always at least one homomorphism : G G ,
namely the trivial homomorphism dened by (g) = e for all g G, where e is the
identity in G . Equation (9.1) then reduces to the true equation e e = e .
Example 9.2.
1. Consider the groups C and R+ under multiplication and the map
: C R+ given by (z) = |z|. Since |z1 z2 | = |z1 | |z2 |, the equation (9.1) is
satised and is a homomorphism.
2. Consider R under addition and the group U of complex numbers z with |z| = 1 under
multiplication. Let : R U be the map (x) = ei2x . Since
(x + y) = ei2(x+y) = ei2x ei2y = (x)(y),
is a homomorphism.
3. Let F (R) be the group of all functions g : R R under addition. Consider the
mapping of F (R) to R under addition, dened by (g) = g(0) for any g F (R).
Recall that, by denition, the sum of two functions f and g is the function f + g
whose value at x is f (x) + g(x). Thus we have
(f + g) = (f + g)(0) = f (0) + g(0) = (f ) + (g),
and (9.1) is satised, so is a homomorphism.
4. Consider the group GL(n, R). Recall that for matrices A, B GL(n, R) we have
det(AB) = det A det B.
This means that det is a homomorphism from GL(n, R) to R under multiplication.
35

5. Fix r Z and let r : Z Z be dened by r (n) = rn for all n Z. For all n, m Z,


we have
r (m + n) = r(m + n) = rm + rn = (m) + (n),
so r is a homomorphism. Note that 0 is the trivial homomorphism, 1 is the identity
map, and 1 maps Z onto Z. For all other r Z, the map r is not onto Z.
6. Fix n N. Let : Z Zn be the map given by (m) = r, where r is the remainder
when m is divided by n. Let us show that is a homomorphism. We need to show
that
(s + t) = (s)(t),
where is addition modulo n (i.e., the group operation in Zn ). Dividing s and t by
n, we get
s = q1 n + r 1 ,
t = q2 n + r 2 ,

0 r1 < n,
0 r2 < n.

Note that (s) = r1 and (t) = r2 . Dividing r1 + r2 by n, we get


r 1 + r 2 = q3 n + r 3 ,

0 r3 < n.

(9.2)

Thus,
s + t = (q1 + q2 + q3 )n + r3 ,
and so (s + t) = r3 . On the other hand, equation (9.2) shows that (s)(t) = r3 .
7. Let G1 and G2 be groups. It is easy to see that the map f : G1 G2 G1 ,
f : (g1 , g2 )  g1 , is a homomorphism, called projection homomorphism.

9.2

Properties of homomorphisms

Theorem 9.3. Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G .


(i) If e is the identity in G, then (e) is the identity e in G .
(ii) If a G, then (a1 ) = (a)1 .
Recall that we have already proven this fact for isomorphisms (Theorem 4.5). The proof
below repeats word for word the proof of Theorem 4.5.
Proof. (i) For any a G, one has
(a)e = (a) = (ae) = (a)(e).
Using the cancellation rule, we get e = (e).
(ii) For any a G, one has
e = (e) = (aa1 ) = (a)(a1 ),
e = (e) = (a1 a) = (a1 )(a).
This shows that (a1 ) = (a)1 .
36

Next, we recall the denition of an image of a set. Let A and B be any two sets, and
f : A B be a mapping.
For S A, f [S] = {y B | x S such that y = f (x)} is the image of S.
Theorem 9.4. Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G . If H is a subgroup
in G, then [H] is a subgroup of G .
Proof. Consider the set [H]. We shall check the two conditions of Theorem 3.7. In order to
check that [H] is closed under the group operation, let (a) and (b) be any two elements
of [H] and consider their product: (a)(b) = (ab). So we see that their product is in
[H], and thus [H] is closed under the group operation.
Next, for any (a) [H], by Theorem 9.3(ii), one has (a)1 = (a1 ) [H].
Corollary 9.5. Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G .
(i) The image [G] of G is a subgroup of G .
(ii) If |G | is nite, then |[G]| is nite and is a divisor of |G |.
Proof. (i) follows from Theorem 9.4(i) with H = G. (ii) follows from (i) by the Theorem
of Lagrange.

9.3

The kernel of a homomorphism

First recall the denition of a pre-image (another term is inverse image) of an element
of a set. Let A and B be any two sets, and f : A B be a mapping. For y B,
f 1 (y) = {x A | f (x) = y} is the pre-image of y.
Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G , and let e be the identity in
G . The set 1 (e ) plays a very important role for the homomorphism and has a special
name.
Denition 9.6. Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G and e be the
identity in G . The set 1 (e ) = {x G | (x) = e } is called a kernel of , denoted by
Ker().
The kernel of a homomorphism : G G is always non-empty: by Theorem 9.3(i),
the identity of G is always in Ker .
Example 9.7.
1. Consider the groups C and R+ under multiplication and the homomorphism : C R+ given by (z) = |z|. The kernel of is the subgroup U of all
z such that |z| = 1.
2. Consider the group R under addition and the homomorphism : R U given by
(x) = ei2x . The kernel of is the subgroup Z of R.
3. Let F (R) be the group of all functions g : R R under addition. Let : F (R) R
be the homomorphism dened by (g) = g(0) for any g F (R). The kernel of is
the subgroup of all g such that g(0) = 0.
37

Theorem 9.8. Let be a homomorphism of a group G into a group G , and let e be the
identity in G . Then the kernel H = Ker() is a normal subgroup of G. For any a G,
one has
1 ((a)) = {x G | (x) = (a)} = aH.
(9.3)
Note that the rst equality in (9.3) is simply the denition of the set 1 ((a)), whereas
the second one is a statement.
Proof. 1. Let us check that H is a subgroup. We shall check the two conditions of Theorem 3.7.
First, suppose a and b are in H, i.e., (a) = (b) = e . Then (ab) = (a)(b) = e e = e
and so ab H.
Next, if a H, then, by Theorem 9.3(ii), (a1 ) = ((a))1 = e 1 = e , and so e H.
2. In order to prove (9.3), let us prove the two inclusions
aH 1 ((a)),

1 ((a)) aH.

(9.4)

For the rst one, suppose that g aH, i.e., g = ah with h H. Then
(g) = (ah) = (a)(h) = (a)e = (a)
and so g 1 ((a)). For the second inclusion, suppose that g 1 ((a)), i.e., (g) =
(a). Then
e = ((a))1 (g) = (a1 g)
and so a1 g = h H. Thus, g = ah and so g aH.
3. Similarly, to (9.4), one proves the inclusions
Ha 1 ((a)),

1 ((a)) Ha.

(9.5)

Thus, aH = 1 ((a)) = Ha, and so the subgroup H is normal.


Corollary 9.9. A group homomorphism : G G is a one-to-one map if and only if
Ker() = {e}.
Proof. If Ker() = {e}, then the elements mapped into (a) are precisely the elements of
the left coset a{e} = {a}, which shows that is one-to-one.
Conversely, suppose is one-to-one. By Theorem 9.3(i), we know that (e) = e . Since
is one-to-one, we see that e is the only element mapped into e by , so Ker() = {e}.
Example 9.10.
1. Consider the homomorphism det : GL(n, R) R . The kernel of
det is the set of all matrices A GL(n, R) such that det A = 1. This set is called
special linear group and denoted by SL(n, R). Theorem 9.8 states that SL(n, R) is a
normal subgroup of GL(n, R).
2. Consider the complex-valued version of the previous example. Consider the homomorphism det : GL(n, C) C . The kernel of det is the subgroup SL(n, C),
consisting of all matrices of GL(n, C) with determinant equal to 1. Theorem 9.8
states that SL(n, C) is a normal subgroup of GL(n, C).
38

3. Fix r Z and let the homomorphism r : Z Z be dened by r (n) = rn for all n


Z. The kernel of is {0}; thus, is one-to-one, which is easy to see straightforwardly.
4. Fix n N. Let n : Z Zn be the homomorphism given by n (m) = r, where r
is the remainder when m is divided by n. The kernel of n consists of all m evenly
divided by n. Thus, Ker(n ) = nZ.
5. Let G1 and G2 be groups and let e1 be the identity in G1 . Consider the homomorphism
f : G1 G2 G1 , f : (g1 , g2 )  g1 . The kernel of f is H = {(e1 , g2 ) | g2 G2 }.
Theorem 9.8 states that H is a normal subgroup of G1 G2 . We are already familiar
with this fact.

39