# Nilpotent group

Intuitively, a nilpotent group is a group that is "almost abelian". This idea is motivated by the fact that nilpotent groups are solvable, and for finite nilpotent groups, two elements having relatively prime orders must commute. It is also true that finite nilpotent groups are supersolvable. The concept is credited to work in the 1930s by Russian mathematician Sergei Chernikov.^{[1]}

Nilpotent groups arise in Galois theory, as well as in the classification of groups. They also appear prominently in the classification of Lie groups.

Analogous terms are used for Lie algebras (using the Lie bracket) including **nilpotent**, **lower central series**, and **upper central series**.

The definition uses the idea of a central series for a group. The following are equivalent definitions for a nilpotent group G:

Equivalently, the nilpotency class of G equals the length of the lower central series or upper central series.
If a group has nilpotency class at most n, then it is sometimes called a **nil-n group**.

It follows immediately from any of the above forms of the definition of nilpotency, that the trivial group is the unique group of nilpotency class 0, and groups of nilpotency class 1 are exactly the non-trivial abelian groups.^{[2]}^{[3]}

An abelian group is precisely one for which the adjoint action is not just nilpotent but trivial (a 1-Engel group).

Since each successive factor group *Z*_{i+1}/*Z*_{i} in the upper central series is abelian, and the series is finite, every nilpotent group is a solvable group with a relatively simple structure.

Every subgroup of a nilpotent group of class *n* is nilpotent of class at most *n*;^{[9]} in addition, if *f* is a homomorphism of a nilpotent group of class *n*, then the image of *f* is nilpotent^{[9]} of class at most *n*.

The following statements are equivalent for finite groups,^{[10]} revealing some useful properties of nilpotency:

Proof:
(a)→(b): By induction on |*G*|. If *G* is abelian, then for any *H*, *N*_{G}(*H*)=*G*. If not, if *Z*(*G*) is not contained in *H*, then *h*_{Z}*H*_{Z}^{−1}*h ^{−1}*=

*h'*=

**H'**h^{−1}*H*, so

*H*·

*Z*(

*G*) normalizers

*H*. If

*Z*(

*G*) is contained in

*H*, then

*H*/

*Z*(

*G*) is contained in

*G*/

*Z*(

*G*). Note,

*G*/

*Z*(

*G*) is a nilpotent group. Thus, there exists an subgroup of

*G*/

*Z*(

*G*) which normalizers

*H*/

*Z*(

*G*) and

*H*/

*Z*(

*G*) is a proper subgroup of it. Therefore, pullback this subgroup to the subgroup in

*G*and it normalizes

*H*. (This proof is the same argument as for

*p*-groups – the only fact we needed was if

*G*is nilpotent then so is

*G*/

*Z*(

*G*) – so the details are omitted.)

(b)→(c): Let *p*_{1},*p*_{2},...,*p*_{s} be the distinct primes dividing its order and let *P*_{i} in *Syl*_{pi}(*G*),1≤*i*≤*s*. Let *P*=*P*_{i} for some *i* and let *N*=*N*_{G}(*P*). Since *P* is a normal subgroup of *N*, *P* is characteristic in *N*. Since *P* char *N* and *N* is a normal subgroup of *N*_{G}(*N*), we get that *P* is a normal subgroup of *N*_{G}(*N*). This means *N*_{G}(*N*) is a subgroup of *N* and hence *N*_{G}(*N*)=*N*. By (b) we must therefore have *N*=*G*, which gives (c).

(c)→(d): Let *p*_{1},*p*_{2},...,*p*_{s} be the distinct primes dividing its order and let *P*_{i} in *Syl*_{pi}(*G*),1≤*i*≤*s*. For any *t*, 1≤*t*≤*s* we show inductively that *P*_{1}*P*_{2}...*P*_{t} is isomorphic to *P*_{1}×*P*_{2}×...×*P*_{t}.
Note first that each *P*_{i} is normal in *G* so *P*_{1}*P*_{2}...*P*_{t} is a subgroup of *G*. Let *H* be the product *P*_{1}*P*_{2}...*P*_{t-1} and let *K*=*P*_{t}, so by induction *H* is isomorphic to *P*_{1}×*P*_{2}×...×*P*_{t-1}. In particular,|*H*|=|*P*_{1}|·|*P*_{2}|·...·|*P*_{t-1}|. Since |*K*|=|*P*_{t}|, the orders of *H* and *K* are relatively prime. Lagrange's Theorem implies the intersection of *H* and *K* is equal to 1. By definition,*P*_{1}*P*_{2}...*P*_{t}=*HK*, hence *HK* is isomorphic to *H*×*K* which is equal to *P*_{1}×*P*_{2}×...×*P*_{t}. This completes the induction. Now take *t*=*s* to obtain (d).

(d)→(e): Note that a P-group of order *p*^{k} has a normal subgroup of order *p*^{m} for all 1≤*m*≤*k*. Since *G* is a direct product of its Sylow subgroups, and normality is preserved upon direct product of groups, *G* has a normal subgroup of order *d* for every divisor *d* of |*G*|.

(e)→(a): For any prime *p* dividing |*G*|, the Sylow *p*-subgroup is normal. Thus we can apply (c) (since we already proved (c)→(e)).

Statement (d) can be extended to infinite groups: if *G* is a nilpotent group, then every Sylow subgroup *G*_{p} of *G* is normal, and the direct product of these Sylow subgroups is the subgroup of all elements of finite order in *G* (see torsion subgroup).

Many properties of nilpotent groups are shared by hypercentral groups.