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Tag: Mathieu

sporadic simple games

About a year ago I did a series of posts on games associated to the Mathieu sporadic group $M_{12} $, starting with a post on Conway’s puzzle M(13), and, continuing with a discussion of mathematical blackjack. The idea at the time was to write a book for a general audience, as discussed at the start of the M(13)-post, ending with a series of new challenging mathematical games. I asked : “What kind of puzzles should we promote for mathematical thinking to have a fighting chance to survive in the near future?”

Now, Scientific American has (no doubt independently) taken up this lead. Their July 2008 issue features the article Rubik’s Cube Inspired Puzzles Demonstrate Math’s “Simple Groups” written by Igor Kriz and Paul Siegel.

By far the nicest thing about this article is that it comes with three online games based on the sporadic simple groups, the Mathieu groups $M_{12} $, $M_{24} $ and the Conway group $.0 $.

the M(12) game

Scrambles to an arbitrary permutation in $M_{12} $ and need to use the two generators $INVERT=(1,12)(2,11)(3,10)(4,9)(5,8)(6,7) $ and $MERGE=(2,12,7,4,11,6,10,8,9,5,3) $ to return to starting position.

Here is the help-screen :

They promise the solution by july 27th, but a few-line GAP-program cracks the puzzle instantly.

the M(24) game

Similar in nature, again using two generators of $M_{24} $. GAP-solution as before.

This time, they offer this help-screen :

the .0 game

Their most original game is based on Conway’s $.0 $ (dotto) group. Unfortunately, they offer only a Windows-executable version, so I had to install Bootcamp and struggle a bit with taking screenshots on a MacBook to show you the game’s starting position :


Dotto, our final puzzle, represents the Conway group Co0, published in 1968 by mathematician John H. Conway of Princeton University. Co0 contains the sporadic simple group Co1 and has exactly twice as many members as Co1. Conway is too modest to name Co0 after himself, so he denotes the group “.0” (hence the pronunciation “dotto”).

In Dotto, there are four moves. This puzzle includes the M24 puzzle. Look at the yellow/blue row in the bottom. This is, in fact, M24, but the numbers are arranged in a row instead of a circle. The R move is the “circle rotation to the right”: the column above the number 0 stays put, but the column above the number 1 moves to the column over the number 2 etc. up to the column over the number 23, which moves to the column over the number 1. You may also click on a column number and then on another column number in the bottom row, and the “circle rotation” moving the first column to the second occurs. The M move is the switch, in each group of 4 columns separated by vertical lines (called tetrads) the “yellow” columns switch and the “blue” columns switch. The sign change move (S) changes signs of the first 8 columns (first two tetrads). The tetrad move (T) is the most complicated: Subtract in each row from each tetrad 1/2 times the sum of the numbers in that tetrad. Then in addition to that, reverse the signs of the columns in the first tetrad.

Strategy hints: Notice that the sum of squares of the numbers in each row doesn’t change. (This sum of squares is 64 in the first row, 32 in every other row.) If you manage to get an “8”in the first row, you have almost reduced the game to M24 except those signs. To have the original position, signs of all numbers on the diagonal must be +. Hint on signs: if the only thing wrong are signs on the diagonal, and only 8 signs are wrong, those 8 columns can be moved to the first 8 columns by using only the M24 moves (M,R).

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Arnold’s trinities version 2.0

Arnold has written a follow-up to the paper mentioned last time called “Polymathematics : is mathematics a single science or a set of arts?” (or here for a (huge) PDF-conversion).

On page 8 of that paper is a nice summary of his 25 trinities :

I learned of this newer paper from a comment by Frederic Chapoton who maintains a nice webpage dedicated to trinities.

In his list there is one trinity on sporadic groups :

where $F_{24} $ is the Fischer simple group of order $2^{21}.3^{16}.5^2.7^ = 1255205709190661721292800 $, which is the third largest sporadic group (the two larger ones being the Baby Monster and the Monster itself).

I don’t know what the rationale is behind this trinity. But I’d like to recall the (Baby)Monster history as a warning against the trinity-reflex. Sometimes, there is just no way to extend a would be trinity.

The story comes from Mark Ronan’s book Symmetry and the Monster on page 178.

Let’s remind ourselves how we got here. A few years earlier, Fischer has created his ‘transposition’ groups Fi22, Fi23, and Fi24. He had called them M(22), M(23), and M(24), because they were related to Mathieu’s groups M22,M23, and M24, and since he used Fi22 to create his new group of mirror symmetries, he tentatively called it $M^{22} $.
It seemed to appear as a cross-section in something even bigger, and as this larger group was clearly associated with Fi24, he labeled it $M^{24} $. Was there something in between that could be called $M^{23} $?
Fischer visited Cambridge to talk on his new work, and Conway named these three potential groups the Baby Monster, the Middle Monster, and the Super Monster. When it became clear that the Middle Monster didn’t exist, Conway settled on the names Baby Monster and Monster, and this became the standard terminology.

Marcus du Sautoy’s account in Finding Moonshine is slightly different. He tells on page 322 that the Super Monster didn’t exist. Anyone knowing the factual story?

Some mathematical trickery later revealed that the Super Monster was going to be impossible to build: there were certain features that contradicted each other. It was just a mirage, which vanished under closer scrutiny. But the other two were still looking robust. The Middle Monster was rechristened simply the Monster.

And, the inclusion diagram of the sporadic simples tells yet another story.

Anyhow, this inclusion diagram is helpful in seeing the three generations of the Happy Family (as well as the Pariahs) of the sporadic groups, terminology invented by Robert Griess in his 100+p Inventiones paper on the construction of the Monster (which he liked to call, for obvious reasons, the Friendly Giant denoted by FG).
The happy family appears in Table 1.1. of the introduction.

It was this picture that made me propose the trinity on the left below in the previous post. I now like to add another trinity on the right, and, the connection between the two is clear.

Here $Golay $ denotes the extended binary Golay code of which the Mathieu group $M_{24} $ is the automorphism group. $Leech $ is of course the 24-dimensional Leech lattice of which the automorphism group is a double cover of the Conway group $Co_1 $. $Griess $ is the Griess algebra which is a nonassociative 196884-dimensional algebra of which the automorphism group is the Monster.

I am aware of a construction of the Leech lattice involving the quaternions (the icosian construction of chapter 8, section 2.2 of SPLAG). Does anyone know of a construction of the Griess algebra involving octonions???


Arnold’s trinities

Referring to the triple of exceptional Galois groups $L_2(5),L_2(7),L_2(11) $ and its connection to the Platonic solids I wrote : “It sure seems that surprises often come in triples…”. Briefly I considered replacing triples by trinities, but then, I didnt want to sound too mystic…

David Corfield of the n-category cafe and a dialogue on infinity (and perhaps other blogs I’m unaware of) pointed me to the paper Symplectization, complexification and mathematical trinities by Vladimir I. Arnold. (Update : here is a PDF-conversion of the paper)

The paper is a write-up of the second in a series of three lectures Arnold gave in june 1997 at the meeting in the Fields Institute dedicated to his 60th birthday. The goal of that lecture was to explain some mathematical dreams he had.

The next dream I want to present is an even more fantastic set of theorems and conjectures. Here I also have no theory and actually the ideas form a kind of religion rather than mathematics.
The key observation is that in mathematics one encounters many trinities. I shall present a list of examples. The main dream (or conjecture) is that all these trinities are united by some rectangular “commutative diagrams”.
I mean the existence of some “functorial” constructions connecting different trinities. The knowledge of the existence of these diagrams provides some new conjectures which might turn to be true theorems.

Follows a list of 12 trinities, many taken from Arnold’s field of expertise being differential geometry. I’ll restrict to the more algebraically inclined ones.

1 : “The first trinity everyone knows is”

where $\mathbb{H} $ are the Hamiltonian quaternions. The trinity on the left may be natural to differential geometers who see real and complex and hyper-Kaehler manifolds as distinct but related beasts, but I’m willing to bet that most algebraists would settle for the trinity on the right where $\mathbb{O} $ are the octonions.

2 : The next trinity is that of the exceptional Lie algebras E6, E7 and E8.

with corresponding Dynkin-Coxeter diagrams

Arnold has this to say about the apparent ubiquity of Dynkin diagrams in mathematics.

Manin told me once that the reason why we always encounter this list in many different mathematical classifications is its presence in the hardware of our brain (which is thus unable to discover a more complicated scheme).
I still hope there exists a better reason that once should be discovered.

Amen to that. I’m quite hopeful human evolution will overcome the limitations of Manin’s brain…

3 : Next comes the Platonic trinity of the tetrahedron, cube and dodecahedron

Clearly one can argue against this trinity as follows : a tetrahedron is a bunch of triangles such that there are exactly 3 of them meeting in each vertex, a cube is a bunch of squares, again 3 meeting in every vertex, a dodecahedron is a bunch of pentagons 3 meeting in every vertex… and we can continue the pattern. What should be a bunch a hexagons such that in each vertex exactly 3 of them meet? Well, only one possibility : it must be the hexagonal tiling (on the left below). And in normal Euclidian space we cannot have a bunch of septagons such that three of them meet in every vertex, but in hyperbolic geometry this is still possible and leads to the Klein quartic (on the right). Check out this wonderful post by John Baez for more on this.

4 : The trinity of the rotation symmetry groups of the three Platonics

where $A_n $ is the alternating group on n letters and $S_n $ is the symmetric group.

Clearly, any rotation of a Platonic solid takes vertices to vertices, edges to edges and faces to faces. For the tetrahedron we can easily see the 4 of the group $A_4 $, say the 4 vertices. But what is the 4 of $S_4 $ in the case of a cube? Well, a cube has 4 body-diagonals and they are permuted under the rotational symmetries. The most difficult case is to see the $5 $ of $A_5 $ in the dodecahedron. Well, here’s the solution to this riddle

there are exactly 5 inscribed cubes in a dodecahedron and they are permuted by the rotations in the same way as $A_5 $.

7 : The seventh trinity involves complex polynomials in one variable

the Laurant polynomials and the modular polynomials (that is, rational functions with three poles at 0,1 and $\infty $.

8 : The eight one is another beauty

Here ‘numbers’ are the ordinary complex numbers $\mathbb{C} $, the ‘trigonometric numbers’ are the quantum version of those (aka q-numbers) which is a one-parameter deformation and finally, the ‘elliptic numbers’ are a two-dimensional deformation. If you ever encountered a Sklyanin algebra this will sound familiar.

This trinity is based on a paper of Turaev and Frenkel and I must come back to it some time…

The paper has some other nice trinities (such as those among Whitney, Chern and Pontryagin classes) but as I cannot add anything sensible to it, let us include a few more algebraic trinities. The first one attributed by Arnold to John McKay

13 : A trinity parallel to the exceptional Lie algebra one is

between the 27 straight lines on a cubic surface, the 28 bitangents on a quartic plane curve and the 120 tritangent planes of a canonic sextic curve of genus 4.

14 : The exceptional Galois groups

explained last time.

15 : The associated curves with these groups as symmetry groups (as in the previous post)

where the ? refers to the mysterious genus 70 curve. I’ll check with one of the authors whether there is still an embargo on the content of this paper and if not come back to it in full detail.

16 : The three generations of sporadic groups

Do you have other trinities you’d like to worship?

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bloomsday 2 : BistroMath

Exactly one year ago this blog was briefly renamed MoonshineMath. The concept being that it would focus on the mathematics surrounding the monster group & moonshine. Well, I got as far as the Mathieu groups…

After a couple of months, I changed the name back to neverendingbooks because I needed the freedom to post on any topic I wanted. I know some people preferred the name MoonshineMath, but so be it, anyone’s free to borrow that name for his/her own blog.

Today it’s bloomsday again, and, as I’m a cyclical guy, I have another idea for a conceptual blog : the bistromath chronicles (or something along this line).

Here’s the relevant section from the Hitchhikers guide

Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. …
Numbers written on restaurant checks within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe.
This single statement took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it.So many mathematical conferences got hold in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of math was put back by years.

Right, so what’s the idea? Well, on numerous occasions Ive stated that any math-blog can only survive as a group-blog. I did approach a lot of people directly, but, as you have noticed, without too much success… Most of them couldnt see themselves contributing to a blog for one of these reasons : it costs too much energy and/or it’s way too inefficient. They say : career-wise there are far cleverer ways to spend my energy than to write a blog. And… there’s no way I can argue against this.

Whence plan B : set up a group-blog for a fixed amount of time (say one year), expect contributors to write one or two series of about 4 posts on their chosen topic, re-edit the better series afterwards and turn them into a book.

But, in order to make a coherent book proposal out of blog-post-series, they’d better center around a common theme, whence the BistroMath ploy. Imagine that some of these forgotten “restaurant-check-notes” are discovered, decoded and explained. Apart from the mathematics, one is free to invent new recepies or add descriptions of restaurants with some mathematical history, etc. etc.

One possible scenario (but I’m sure you will have much better ideas) : part of the knotation is found on a restaurant-check of some Italian restaurant. This allow to explain Conway’s theory of rational tangles, give the perfect way to cook spaghetti to experiment with tangles and tell the history of Manin’s Italian restaurant in Bonn where (it is rumoured) the 1998 Fields medals were decided…

But then, there is no limit to your imagination as long as it somewhat fits within the framework. For example, I’d love to read the transcripts of a chat-session in SecondLife between Dedekind and Conway on the construction of real numbers… I hope you get the drift.

I’m not going to rename neverendingbooks again, but am willing to set up the BistroMath blog provided

  • Five to ten people are interested to participate
  • At least one book-editor shows an interest
    update : (16/06) contacted by first publisher

You can leave a comment or, if you prefer, contact me via email (if you’re human you will have no problem getting my address…).

Clearly, people already blogging are invited and are allowed to cross-post (in fact, that’s what I will do if it ever gets so far). Finally, if you are not willing to contribute blog-posts but like the idea and are willing to contribute to it in any other way, we are still auditioning for chanting monks

The small group of monks who had taken up hanging around the major research institutes singing strange chants to the effect that the Universe was only a figment of its own imagination were eventually given a street theater grant and went away.

And, if you do not like this idea, there will be another bloomsday-idea next year…

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Farey symbols of sporadic groups

John Conway once wrote :

There are almost as many different constructions of $M_{24} $ as there have been mathematicians interested in that most remarkable of all finite groups.

In the inguanodon post Ive added yet another construction of the Mathieu groups $M_{12} $ and $M_{24} $ starting from (half of) the Farey sequences and the associated cuboid tree diagram obtained by demanding that all edges are odd. In this way the Mathieu groups turned out to be part of a (conjecturally) infinite sequence of simple groups, starting as follows :

$L_2(7),M_{12},A_{16},M_{24},A_{28},A_{40},A_{48},A_{60},A_{68},A_{88},A_{96},A_{120},A_{132},A_{148},A_{164},A_{196},\ldots $

It is quite easy to show that none of the other sporadics will appear in this sequence via their known permutation representations. Still, several of the sporadic simple groups are generated by an element of order two and one of order three, so they are determined by a finite dimensional permutation representation of the modular group $PSL_2(\mathbb{Z}) $ and hence are hiding in a special polygonal region of the Dedekind’s tessellation

Let us try to figure out where the sporadic with the next simplest permutation representation is hiding : the second Janko group $J_2 $, via its 100-dimensional permutation representation. The Atlas tells us that the order two and three generators act as

e:= (1,84)(2,20)(3,48)(4,56)(5,82)(6,67)(7,55)(8,41)(9,35)(10,40)(11,78)(12, 100)(13,49)(14,37)(15,94)(16,76)(17,19)(18,44)(21,34)(22,85)(23,92)(24, 57)(25,75)(26,28)(27,64)(29,90)(30,97)(31,38)(32,68)(33,69)(36,53)(39,61) (42,73)(43,91)(45,86)(46,81)(47,89)(50,93)(51,96)(52,72)(54,74)(58,99) (59,95)(60,63)(62,83)(65,70)(66,88)(71,87)(77,98)(79,80);

v:= (1,80,22)(2,9,11)(3,53,87)(4,23,78)(5,51,18)(6,37,24)(8,27,60)(10,62,47) (12,65,31)(13,64,19)(14,61,52)(15,98,25)(16,73,32)(17,39,33)(20,97,58) (21,96,67)(26,93,99)(28,57,35)(29,71,55)(30,69,45)(34,86,82)(38,59,94) (40,43,91)(42,68,44)(46,85,89)(48,76,90)(49,92,77)(50,66,88)(54,95,56) (63,74,72)(70,81,75)(79,100,83);

But as the kfarey.sage package written by Chris Kurth calculates the Farey symbol using the L-R generators, we use GAP to find those

L = e*v^-1  and  R=e*v^-2 so

L=(1,84,22,46,70,12,79)(2,58,93,88,50,26,35)(3,90,55,7,71,53,36)(4,95,38,65,75,98,92)(5,86,69,39,14,6,96)(8,41,60,72,61,17, 64)(9,57,37,52,74,56,78)(10,91,40,47,85,80,83)(11,23,49,19,33,30,20)(13,77,15,59,54,63,27)(16,48,87,29,76,32,42)(18,68, 73,44,51,21,82)(24,28,99,97,45,34,67)(25,81,89,62,100,31,94)

R=(1,84,80,100,65,81,85)(2,97,69,17,13,92,78)(3,76,73,68,16,90,71)(4,54,72,14,24,35,11)(5,34,96,18,42,32,44)(6,21,86,30,58, 26,57)(7,29,48,53,36,87,55)(8,41,27,19,39,52,63)(9,28,93,66,50,99,20)(10,43,40,62,79,22,89)(12,83,47,46,75,15,38)(23,77, 25,70,31,59,56)(33,45,82,51,67,37,61)(49,64,60,74,95,94,98)

Defining these permutations in sage and using kfarey, this gives us the Farey-symbol of the associated permutation representation

L=SymmetricGroup(Integer(100))("(1,84,22,46,70,12,79)(2,58,93,88,50,26,35)(3,90,55,7,71,53,36)(4,95,38,65,75,98,92)(5,86,69,39,14,6,96)(8,41,60,72,61,17, 64)(9,57,37,52,74,56,78)(10,91,40,47,85,80,83)(11,23,49,19,33,30,20)(13,77,15,59,54,63,27)(16,48,87,29,76,32,42)(18,68, 73,44,51,21,82)(24,28,99,97,45,34,67)(25,81,89,62,100,31,94)")

R=SymmetricGroup(Integer(100))("(1,84,80,100,65,81,85)(2,97,69,17,13,92,78)(3,76,73,68,16,90,71)(4,54,72,14,24,35,11)(5,34,96,18,42,32,44)(6,21,86,30,58, 26,57)(7,29,48,53,36,87,55)(8,41,27,19,39,52,63)(9,28,93,66,50,99,20)(10,43,40,62,79,22,89)(12,83,47,46,75,15,38)(23,77, 25,70,31,59,56)(33,45,82,51,67,37,61)(49,64,60,74,95,94,98)")

sage: FareySymbol("Perm",[L,R])

[[0, 1, 4, 3, 2, 5, 18, 13, 21, 71, 121, 413, 292, 463, 171, 50, 29, 8, 27, 46, 65, 19, 30, 11, 3, 10, 37, 64, 27, 17, 7, 4, 5], [1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 7, 5, 8, 27, 46, 157, 111, 176, 65, 19, 11, 3, 10, 17, 24, 7, 11, 4, 1, 3, 11, 19, 8, 5, 2, 1, 1], [-3, 1, 4, 4, 2, 3, 6, -3, 7, 13, 14, 15, -3, -3, 15, 14, 11, 8, 8, 10, 12, 12, 10, 9, 5, 5, 9, 11, 13, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1]]

Here, the first string gives the numerators of the cusps, the second the denominators and the third gives the pairing information (where [tex[-2 $ denotes an even edge and $-3 $ an odd edge. Fortunately, kfarey also allows us to draw the special polygonal region determined by a Farey-symbol. So, here it is (without the pairing data) :

the hiding place of $J_2 $…

It would be nice to have (a) other Farey-symbols associated to the second Janko group, hopefully showing a pattern that one can extend into an infinite family as in the inguanodon series and (b) to determine Farey-symbols of more sporadic groups.

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