Weyl character formula

In mathematics, the Weyl character formula in representation theory describes the characters of irreducible representations of compact Lie groups in terms of their highest weights.[1] It was proved by Hermann Weyl (1925, 1926a, 1926b). There is a closely related formula for the character of an irreducible representation of a semisimple Lie algebra.[2] In Weyl's approach to the , the proof of the character formula is a key step in proving that every dominant integral element actually arises as the highest weight of some irreducible representation.[3] Important consequences of the character formula are the Weyl dimension formula and the Kostant multiplicity formula.

The character formula can be expressed in terms of representations of complex semisimple Lie algebras or in terms of the (essentially equivalent) representation theory of compact Lie groups.

Using the Weyl denominator formula (described below), the character formula may be rewritten as

(Both numerator and denominator in the character formula have two terms.) It is instructive to verify this formula directly in this case, so that we can observe the cancellation phenomenon implicit in the Weyl character formula.

Since the representations are known very explicitly, the character of the representation can be written down as

We can now easily verify that most of the terms cancel between the two term on the right-hand side above, leaving us with only

In the special case of the trivial 1-dimensional representation the character is 1, so the Weyl character formula becomes the Weyl denominator formula:[9]

In general, the division process can be accomplished by computing a formal reciprocal of the Weyl denominator and then multiplying the numerator in the Weyl character formula by this formal reciprocal.[13] The result gives the character as a finite sum of exponentials. The coefficients of this expansion are the dimensions of the weight spaces, that is, the multiplicities of the weights. We thus obtain from the Weyl character formula a formula for the multiplicities of the weights, known as the Kostant multiplicity formula. An alternative formula, that is more computationally tractable in some cases, is given in the next section.

Hans Freudenthal's formula is a recursive formula for the weight multiplicities that gives the same answer as the Kostant multiplicity formula, but is sometimes easier to use for calculations as there can be far fewer terms to sum. The formula is based on use of the Casimir element and its derivation is independent of the character formula. It states[14]

The Weyl character formula also holds for integrable highest weight representations of Kac–Moody algebras, when it is known as the Weyl–Kac character formula. Similarly there is a denominator identity for Kac–Moody algebras, which in the case of the affine Lie algebras is equivalent to the Macdonald identities. In the simplest case of the affine Lie algebra of type A1 this is the Jacobi triple product identity

The character formula can also be extended to integrable highest weight representations of generalized Kac–Moody algebras, when the character is given by

Here S is a correction term given in terms of the imaginary simple roots by

where the sum runs over all finite subsets I of the imaginary simple roots which are pairwise orthogonal and orthogonal to the highest weight λ, and |I| is the cardinality of I and ΣI is the sum of the elements of I.

The denominator formula for the monster Lie algebra is the product formula

Peterson gave a recursion formula for the multiplicities mult(β) of the roots β of a symmetrizable (generalized) Kac–Moody algebra, which is equivalent to the Weyl–Kac denominator formula, but easier to use for calculations: