The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

Representations of Bialgebras

What’s so great about bialgebras? Their categories of representations are monoidal!

Let’s say we have two algebra representations \rho:A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(V,V) and \sigma:A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(W,W). These are morphisms in the category of \mathbb{F}-algebras, and so of course we can take their tensor product \rho\otimes\sigma. But this is not a representation of the same algebra. It’s a representation of the tensor square of the algebra:

\rho\otimes\sigma:A\otimes A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(V,V)\otimes\hom_\mathbb{F}(W,W)\cong\hom_\mathbb{F}(V\otimes W,V\otimes W)

Ah, but if we have a way to send A to A\otimes A (an algebra homomorphism, that is), then we can compose it with this tensor product to get a representation of A. And that’s exactly what the comultiplication \Delta does for us. We abuse notation slightly and write:

\rho\otimes\sigma:A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(V\otimes W,V\otimes W)

where the homomorphism of this representation is the comultiplication \Delta followed by the tensor product of the two homomorphisms, followed by the equivalence of \hom algebras.

Notice here that the underlying vector space of the tensor product of two representations \rho\otimes\sigma is the tensor product of their underlying vector spaces V\otimes W. That is, if we think (as many approaches to representation theory do) of the vector space as fundamental and the homomorphism as extra structure, then this is saying we can put the structure of a representation on the tensor product of the vector spaces.

Which leads us to the next consideration. For the tensor product to be a monoidal structure we need an associator. And the underlying linear map on vector spaces must clearly be the old associator for \mathbf{Vect}(\mathbb{F}). We just need to verify that it commutes with the action of A.

So let’s consider three representations \rho:A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(U,U), \sigma\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(V,V), and \tau:A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(W,W). Given an algebra element a and vectors u, v, and w, we have the action

\begin{aligned}\left[\left[(\rho\otimes\sigma)\otimes\tau\right](a)\right]((u\otimes v)\otimes w)=\\\left(\left[\rho\left(\left(a_{(1)}\right)_{(1)}\right)\right](u)\otimes\left[\sigma\left(\left(a_{(1)}\right)_{(2)}\right)\right](v)\right)\otimes\left[\tau\left(a_{(2)}\right)\right](v)\end{aligned}

On the other hand, if we associate the other way we have the action

\begin{aligned}\left[\left[\rho\otimes(\sigma\otimes\tau)\right](a)\right](u\otimes(v\otimes w))=\\\left[\rho\left(a_{(1)}\right)\right](u)\otimes\left(\left[\sigma\left(\left(a_{(2)}\right)_{(1)}\right)\right](v)\otimes\left[\tau\left(\left(a_{(2)}\right)_{(2)}\right)\right](v)\right)\end{aligned}

Where we have used the Sweedler notation to write out the comultiplications of a. But now we can use the coassociativity of the comultiplication — along with the fact that, as algebra homomorphisms, the representations are linear maps — to show that the associator on \mathbf{Vect}(\mathbb{F}) intertwines these actions, and thus acts as an associator for the category of representations of A as well.

We also need a unit object, and similar considerations to those above tell us it should be based on the vector space unit object. That is, we need a homomorphism A\rightarrow\hom_\mathbb{F}(\mathbb{F},\mathbb{F}). But linear maps from the base field to itself (considered as a one-dimensional vector space) are just multiplications by field elements! That is, the \hom algebra is just the field \mathbb{F} itself, and we need a homomorphism A\rightarrow\mathbb{F}. This is precisely what the counit \epsilon provides! I’ll leave it to you to verify that the left and right unit maps from vector spaces intertwine the relevant representations.

November 11, 2008 - Posted by | Algebra, Category theory, Representation Theory


  1. […] of Hopf Algebras I We’ve seen that the category of representations of a bialgebra is monoidal. What do we get for Hopf algebras? What does an antipode buy us? Duals! At least when we restrict […]

    Pingback by Representations of Hopf Algebras I « The Unapologetic Mathematician | November 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] we showed that the category of representations of a Hopf algebra has duals. This is on top of our earlier result that the category of representations of any bialgebra is monoidal. Let’s look at this a […]

    Pingback by The Category of Representations of a Hopf Algebra « The Unapologetic Mathematician | November 18, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] buy us? It turns out that the category of representations of a cocommutative bialgebra is not only monoidal, but it’s also symmetric! Indeed, given representations and , we have the tensor product […]

    Pingback by Cocommutativity « The Unapologetic Mathematician | November 19, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] have a group . This gives us a cocommutative Hopf algebra. Thus the category of representations of is monoidal — symmetric, even — and has duals. Let’s consider these structures a bit more […]

    Pingback by The Category of Representations of a Group « The Unapologetic Mathematician | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  5. […] is even easier than tensor products were, and we don’t even need to be a bialgebra. An element of is just a pair with and . […]

    Pingback by Direct Sums of Representations « The Unapologetic Mathematician | December 9, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 412 other followers

%d bloggers like this: