Abstract Nonsense

Crushing one theorem at a time

Frobenius Reciprocity

Point of Post: In this post we discuss the Frobenius Reciprocity Theorem and discuss some of its consequences including its obvious relation to multiplicities.

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In our last post we saw that given a finite group G and some H\leqslant G there is a natural map \text{Cl}(H)\to\text{Cl}(G) by extending linearly the map \displaystyle \chi\mapsto \text{Ind}^G_H(\chi) for every \chi\in\text{irr}(H) where \text{Ind}^G_H(\chi) is the induced character. We saw dually there was a map \text{Res}^H_G:\text{Cl}(G)\to\text{Cl}(H) which just took a class function on G and restricted it to H. In this post we prove the amazing fact that the maps \text{Ind}^G_H and \text{Res}^H_G are adjoint, in the sense that \left\langle f_1,\text{Res}^H_G(f_2)\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(H)}=\left\langle\text{Ind}^G_H(f_1),f_2\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(G)}. What of course then shall be true is that the maps \bigtriangleup and \bigtriangledown are adjoint. From this we shall derive a fascinating result about the relation between how often an irrep occurs in the decomposition of \rho and how often it occurs in \text{Ind}^G_H(\rho).

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Frobenius Reciprocity Theorem

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We waste no time and proceed with the theorem. The most beautiful thing about this theorem though is how simple the proof is–it’s literally just a simple computation, but it is very, very powerful.

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Theorem (Frobenius Reciprocity): Let G be a finite group and H\leqslant G. Then, the two maps \text{Ind}^G_H:\text{Cl}(H)\to\text{Cl}(G) and \text{Res}^H_G:\text{Cl}(G)\to\text{Cl}(H) are adjoint. In other words, for any f_1\in\text{Cl}(H) and f_2\in\text{Cl}(G)

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\displaystyle \left\langle f_1,\text{Res}^H_G(f_2)\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(H)}=\left\langle \text{Ind}^G_H(f_1),f_2\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(G)}

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Proof: Let f_1\in\text{Cl}(H) and f_2\in\text{Cl}(G) be arbitrary and we recall that if we fix some transveral \mathscr{T} for G/H then

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\displaystyle \text{Ind}(f)(g)=\sum_{g\in G}f^\circ\left(t^{-1}gt\right)=\frac{1}{|H|}\sum_{k\in G}f^\circ\left(k^{-1}gk\right)

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where f^\circ is zero on G-H and f on H. Then, by definition one has

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\displaystyle \begin{aligned}\left\langle \text{Ind}^G_H(f_1),f_2\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(G)} &= \frac{1}{|G|}\sum_{g\in G}\text{Ind}^G_H(f_1)(g)\overline{f_2(g)}\\ &= \frac{1}{|G||H|}\sum_{g\in G}\left(\sum_{k\in G}f_1^\circ\left(k^{-1}gk\right)\right)\overline{f_2(g)}\\ &= \frac{1}{|G||H|}\sum_{k\in G}\sum_{g\in G}f_1^\circ\left(k^{-1}gk\right)\overline{f_2(g)}\\ &= \frac{1}{|G||H|}\sum_{k\in G}\sum_{h\in H}f_1^\circ(h)\overline{f_2\left(khk^{-1}\right)}\\&= \frac{1}{|G||H|}\sum_{k\in G}\sum_{h\in H}f_1(h)\overline{f_2(h)}\\ &= \frac{1}{|H|}\sum_{h\in H}f_1(h)\overline{f_2(h)}\\ &= \left\langle f_1,\text{Res}^H_G\left(f_2\right)\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(H)}\end{aligned}

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where we used the obvious fact that the only places where k^{-1}gk\in H is precisely kHk^{-1} and summing over this is precisely summing over H where we replace g by khk^{-1}–and the fact that f_2 is a class function on G so that f_2\left(khk^{-1}\right)=f_2(h) for every h\in H. \blacksquare

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Note that if we were doing character theory and solely interested in the characters of G and not the representations then we could have defined the induced map \text{Ind}^G_H to be equal to the unique adjoint of \text{Res}^H_G and then defined the induced character of a character \chi in H to be \text{Ind}^G_H(\chi)=\bigtriangleup(\chi) the fact that it would be character follows from the following:

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Multiplicities of Irreps

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We now discuss a fantastic corollary of the Frobenius Reciprocity theorem. The beginnings of which come from the offhand remark at the end of the above section. Namely that it somehow follows from the Frobenius Reciprocity theorem that \bigtriangleup(\chi) is a character of G whenever \chi is a character of H. We’ll recall that this reduces to showing that \bigtriangleup(\chi)\in\text{span}_{\mathbb{N}}(\text{irr}(G)) or that \left\langle \bigtriangleup(\chi),\mu\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(G)}\in\mathbb{N} for every \mu\in\text{irr}(G). But, it’s trivial that \text{Res}^H_G(\mu) is a character of H (it’s the character of the restriction of \rho to \rho_{\mid H} if \rho is the character for \mu) and so \left\langle \chi,\text{Res}^H_G(\mu)\right\rangle_{\text{Cl}(H)}\in\mathbb{N} from where the rest follows from Frobenius Reciprocity theorem. We’d now like to extend this observation to show a brilliant fact about the multiplicities of an induced representation. Namely, for a group K and a representation \rho on K we define, for each \alpha\in\widehat{G}, the multiplicity of \alpha in K denoted \text{mult}\left(\rho,\alpha\right) to be the number of times an element of \alpha occurs in the decomposition of \rho into irreps. But, it’s trivial using the orthogonality of irreducible characters to note that \displaystyle \text{mult}\left(\rho,\alpha\right)=\left\langle\rho,\chi^{(\alpha)}\right\rangle. The brilliant thing though is that given two irreps\rho^{(\alpha)} of G and \psi^{(\beta)} of H we see that

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\text{mult}\left(\text{Ind}^G_H(\psi^{(\beta)}),\alpha\right)=\left\langle \bigtriangleup\left(\chi^{(\beta)}\right),\chi^{(\alpha)}\right\rangle=\left\langle \chi^{(\beta)},\bigtriangledown\left(\chi^{(\alpha)}\right)\right\rangle=\text{mult}\left(\text{Res}^H_G\left(\rho^{(\alpha)}\right),\beta\right)

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Which, when you think about it, is a crazy thing. The number of times something in \alpha occurs in the decomposition of an induced representation of something in \beta is equal to the number of times something in \beta appears in the decomposition of the restriction. Just amazing.

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1. Simon, Barry. Representations of Finite and Compact Groups. Providence, RI: American Math. Soc., 1996. Print.


May 1, 2011 - Posted by | Algebra, Representation Theory | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] and are the same representation. In general this may be a very messy task, but thanks to the Frobenius Reciprocity theorem this becomes almost obvious in the sense that since is the adjoint of it suffices to show that […]

    Pingback by Induced Representation is ‘Inductive’ « Abstract Nonsense | May 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] of . The idea is simple, namely we know that being an irrep is equivalent to having but from Frobenius Reciprocity theorem we know that this is equivalent to showing the slightly more scary looking   . But, thanks to […]

    Pingback by Mackey Irreducibility Criterion « Abstract Nonsense | May 6, 2011 | Reply

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