Weyl group

In mathematics, in particular the theory of Lie algebras, the Weyl group (named after Hermann Weyl) of a root system Φ is a subgroup of the isometry group of that root system. Specifically, it is the subgroup which is generated by reflections through the hyperplanes orthogonal to the roots, and as such is a finite reflection group. In fact it turns out that most finite reflection groups are Weyl groups.[1] Abstractly, Weyl groups are finite Coxeter groups, and are important examples of these.

The Weyl group of a semisimple Lie group, a semisimple Lie algebra, a semisimple linear algebraic group, etc. is the Weyl group of the root system of that group or algebra.

The figure illustrates the case of the A2 root system. The "hyperplanes" (in this case, one dimensional) orthogonal to the roots are indicated by dashed lines. The six 60-degree sectors are the Weyl chambers and the shaded region is the fundamental Weyl chamber associated to the indicated base.

Theorem: The Weyl group acts freely and transitively on the Weyl chambers. Thus, the order of the Weyl group is equal to the number of Weyl chambers.

Weyl groups have a Bruhat order and length function in terms of this presentation: the length of a Weyl group element is the length of the shortest word representing that element in terms of these standard generators. There is a unique longest element of a Coxeter group, which is opposite to the identity in the Bruhat order.

Above, the Weyl group was defined as a subgroup of the isometry group of a root system. There are also various definitions of Weyl groups specific to various group-theoretic and geometric contexts (Lie algebra, Lie group, symmetric space, etc.). For each of these ways of defining Weyl groups, it is a (usually nontrivial) theorem that it is a Weyl group in the sense of the definition at the top of this article, namely the Weyl group of some root system associated with the object. A concrete realization of such a Weyl group usually depends on a choice – e.g. of Cartan subalgebra for a Lie algebra, of maximal torus for a Lie group.[5]

For a complex semisimple Lie algebra, the Weyl group is simply defined as the reflection group generated by reflections in the roots – the specific realization of the root system depending on a choice of Cartan subalgebra.

For a Lie group G satisfying certain conditions,[note 1] given a torus T < G (which need not be maximal), the Weyl group with respect to that torus is defined as the quotient of the normalizer of the torus N = N(T) = NG(T) by the centralizer of the torus Z = Z(T) = ZG(T),

If G is compact and connected, and T is a maximal torus, then the Weyl group of G is isomorphic to the Weyl group of its Lie algebra, as discussed above.

For example, for the general linear group GL, a maximal torus is the subgroup D of invertible diagonal matrices, whose normalizer is the generalized permutation matrices (matrices in the form of permutation matrices, but with any non-zero numbers in place of the '1's), and whose Weyl group is the symmetric group. In this case the quotient map NN/T splits (via the permutation matrices), so the normalizer N is a semidirect product of the torus and the Weyl group, and the Weyl group can be expressed as a subgroup of G. In general this is not always the case – the quotient does not always split, the normalizer N is not always the semidirect product of W and Z, and the Weyl group cannot always be realized as a subgroup of G.[5]

If B is a Borel subgroup of G, i.e., a maximal connected solvable subgroup and a maximal torus T = T0 is chosen to lie in B, then we obtain the Bruhat decomposition

which gives rise to the decomposition of the flag variety G/B into Schubert cells (see Grassmannian).

The structure of the Hasse diagram of the group is related geometrically to the cohomology of the manifold (rather, of the real and complex forms of the group), which is constrained by Poincaré duality. Thus algebraic properties of the Weyl group correspond to general topological properties of manifolds. For instance, Poincaré duality gives a pairing between cells in dimension k and in dimension n - k (where n is the dimension of a manifold): the bottom (0) dimensional cell corresponds to the identity element of the Weyl group, and the dual top-dimensional cell corresponds to the longest element of a Coxeter group.