# Core (group theory)

In group theory, a branch of mathematics, a **core** is any of certain special normal subgroups of a group. The two most common types are the **normal core** of a subgroup and the ** p-core** of a group.

For a group *G*, the **normal core** or **normal interior**^{[1]} of a subgroup *H* is the largest normal subgroup of *G* that is contained in *H* (or equivalently, the intersection of the conjugates of *H*). More generally, the core of *H* with respect to a subset *S* ⊆ *G* is the intersection of the conjugates of *H* under *S*, i.e.

Under this more general definition, the normal core is the core with respect to *S* = *G*. The normal core of any normal subgroup is the subgroup itself.

Normal cores are important in the context of group actions on sets, where the normal core of the isotropy subgroup of any point acts as the identity on its entire orbit. Thus, in case the action is transitive, the normal core of any isotropy subgroup is precisely the kernel of the action.

A **core-free subgroup** is a subgroup whose normal core is the trivial subgroup. Equivalently, it is a subgroup that occurs as the isotropy subgroup of a transitive, faithful group action.

The solution for the hidden subgroup problem in the abelian case generalizes to finding the normal core in case of subgroups of arbitrary groups.

In this section *G* will denote a finite group, though some aspects generalize to locally finite groups and to profinite groups.

The *p*-core can also be defined as the unique largest subnormal *p*-subgroup; the *p*′-core as the unique largest subnormal *p*′-subgroup; and the *p*′,*p*-core as the unique largest subnormal *p*-nilpotent subgroup.

The *p*′ and *p*′,*p*-core begin the **upper p-series**. For sets

*π*

_{1},

*π*

_{2}, ...,

*π*

_{n+1}of primes, one defines subgroups O

_{π1, π2, ..., πn+1}(

*G*) by:

Every nilpotent group is *p*-nilpotent, and every *p*-nilpotent group is *p*-soluble. Every soluble group is *p*-soluble, and every *p*-soluble group is *p*-constrained. A group is *p*-nilpotent if and only if it has a **normal p-complement**, which is just its

*p*′-core.

Just as normal cores are important for group actions on sets, *p*-cores and *p*′-cores are important in modular representation theory, which studies the actions of groups on vector spaces. The *p*-core of a finite group is the intersection of the kernels of the irreducible representations over any field of characteristic *p*. For a finite group, the *p*′-core is the intersection of the kernels of the ordinary (complex) irreducible representations that lie in the principal *p*-block. For a finite group, the *p*′,*p*-core is the intersection of the kernels of the irreducible representations in the principal *p*-block over any field of characteristic *p*. Also, for a finite group, the *p*′,*p*-core is the intersection of the centralizers of the abelian chief factors whose order is divisible by *p* (all of which are irreducible representations over a field of size *p* lying in the principal block). For a finite, *p*-constrained group, an irreducible module over a field of characteristic *p* lies in the principal block if and only if the *p*′-core of the group is contained in the kernel of the representation.