The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

KLV errata

I just got home from a long discussion with Dr. Zuckerman about this whole business. I’m not quite ready to say exactly what’s going on, but I want to correct a couple errors that I’ve made. Let it not be said that I don’t admit when I’m wrong.

Firstly, in my little added remarks about the Monster group in my “Why We Care” post, I was oversimplifying. First of all, the E_8 lattice is not the Leech lattice. The Leech lattice lives in 24-dimensional space for one thing (doh). Basically, you put together three copies of the E_8 lattice and then tweak it a bit.

Putting them together I can explain. The simplest lattice is just the integers sitting inside the real line. If you move to the plane, the points with integer coordinates sit at the corners of the squares in a checkerboard tiling of the plane. This is “adding two copies of the integer lattice”. For three copies of E_8, we want 24-tuples of numbers so the first eight, second eight, and third eight are each the coordinates of a point in the E_8 lattice.

When you do this, it turns out there’s just enough room to squeeze in some more points to get a new lattice. That’s the Leech lattice. The Monster also isn’t quite just a group of symmetries of this lattice, so there’s still a few more steps to go, but it’s definitely related. So the connection isn’t quite as close as I’d implied, but it’s there.

The other thing is about real forms. I’d forgotten that not every choice of “realification” of the Killing form gives a Lie group, and further that not every choice that does work gives a unique Lie group.

What is true is that to every real form G(\mathbb{R}) of a complex Lie group G, there’s a largest compact subgroup K(\mathbb{R}). This means that its ends curve back in on themselves like the circle or the torus, and don’t run off to infinity like the line or the cylinder. Then we can “complexify” this group to get another complex group K that’s really interesting to us. This group K is a subgroup of G, which will be important. In particular, if we take the compact real form of G, its maximal compact subgroup is just itself, so its complexification K is just G back again.

March 31, 2007 - Posted by | Atlas of Lie Groups


  1. […] Okay, as I’ve found I have to say, I’ve pretty drastically oversimplified things. More info in the […]

    Pingback by Real and complex groups « The Unapologetic Mathematician | March 31, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] I’ve found out I was wrong about how the Monster relates to . More info in the […]

    Pingback by More sketches, and why we care « The Unapologetic Mathematician | March 31, 2007 | Reply

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