The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

(Fake) Frobenius Reciprocity

Today, we can prove the Frobenius’ reciprocity formula, which relates induced characters to restricted ones.

Now, naïvely we might hope that induction and restriction would be inverse processes. But this is clearly impossible, since if we start with a G-module V with dimension d, it restricts to an H-module V\!\!\downarrow^G_H which also has dimension d. Then we can induce it to a G-module V\!\!\downarrow^G_H\uparrow_H^G with dimension d\tfrac{\lvert G\rvert}{\lvert H\rvert}. This can’t be the original representation unless H=G, which is a pretty trivial example indeed.

So, instead we have the following “reciprocity” relation. If \chi is a character of the group G and \psi is a character of the subgroup H, we find that


Where the left inner product is that of class functions on H, while the right is that of class functions on G. We calculate the inner products using our formula

\displaystyle\begin{aligned}\langle\chi,\psi\!\!\uparrow_H^G\rangle_G&=\frac{1}{\lvert G\rvert}\sum\limits_{g\in G}\chi(g^{-1})\psi\!\!\uparrow_H^G(g)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert G\rvert}\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{g\in G}\sum\limits_{x\in G}\chi(g^{-1})\psi(x^{-1}gx)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert G\rvert}\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{x\in G}\sum\limits_{y\in G}\chi(xy^{-1}x^{-1})\psi(y)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert G\rvert}\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{x\in G}\sum\limits_{y\in G}\chi(y^{-1})\psi(y)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{y\in G}\chi(y^{-1})\psi(y)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{y\in H}\chi(y^{-1})\psi(y)\\&=\frac{1}{\lvert H\rvert}\sum\limits_{y\in H}\chi\!\!\downarrow^G_H(y^{-1})\psi(y)\\&=\langle\chi\!\!\downarrow^G_H,\psi\rangle_H\end{aligned}

where we have also used the fact that \chi is a class function on G, and that \psi is defined to be zero away from H.

As a special case, let \chi^{(i)} and \chi^{(j)} be irreducible characters of G and H respectively, so the inner products are multiplicities. For example,


is the multiplicity of \chi^{(i)} in the representation obtained by inducing \chi^{(j)} to a representation of G. On the other hand,


is the multiplicity of \chi^{(j)} in the representation obtained by restricting \chi^{(i)} down to H. The Frobenius reciprocity theorem asserts that these multiplicities are identical.

Now, why did I call this post “fake” Frobenius reciprocity? Well, this formula gets a lot of press. But really it’s a pale shadow of the real Frobenius reciprocity theorem. This one is a simple equation that holds at the level of characters, while the real one is a natural isomorphism that holds at the level of representations themselves.


November 30, 2010 - Posted by | Algebra, Group theory, Representation Theory


  1. […] and Restriction are Additive Functors Before we can prove the full version of Frobenius reciprocity, we need to see that induction and restriction are actually additive […]

    Pingback by Induction and Restriction are Additive Functors « The Unapologetic Mathematician | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] we come to the real version of Frobenius reciprocity. It takes the form of an adjunction between the functors of induction and […]

    Pingback by (Real) Frobenius Reciprocity « The Unapologetic Mathematician | December 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] is our “fake” Frobenius reciprocity […]

    Pingback by Dual Frobenius Reciprocity « The Unapologetic Mathematician | December 3, 2010 | Reply

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