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Clifford module

In mathematics, a Clifford module is a representation of a Clifford algebra. In general a Clifford algebra C is a central simple algebra over some field extension L of the field K over which the quadratic form Q defining C is defined.

The abstract theory of Clifford modules was founded by a paper of M. F. Atiyah, R. Bott and A. Shapiro. A fundamental result on Clifford modules is that the Morita equivalence class of a Clifford algebra (the equivalence class of the category of Clifford modules over it) depends only on the signature $p-q$ mod 8. This is an algebraic form of Bott periodicity.

Matrix representations of real Clifford algebras

We will need to study anticommuting matrices (AB = −BA) because in Clifford algebras orthogonal vectors anticommute
$A cdot B = frac\left\{1\right\}\left\{2\right\}\left(AB + BA \right) = 0$

For the real Clifford algebra $mathbb\left\{R\right\}_\left\{p,q\right\},$, we need p + q mutually anticommuting matrices, of which p have +1 as square and q have −1 as square.

$begin\left\{matrix\right\}$
gamma_a^2 &=& +1 &mbox{if} &1 le a le p gamma_a^2 &=& -1 &mbox{if} &p+1 le a le p+q gamma_a gamma_b &=& -gamma_b gamma_a &mbox{if} &a ne b

end{matrix}

Such a basis of gamma matrices is not unique. One can always obtain another set of gamma matrices satisfying the same Clifford algebra by means of a similarity transformation.

$begin\left\{matrix\right\}$
gamma_{a'} &=& S &gamma_{a } &S^{-1} end{matrix}

where S is a non-singular matrix. The sets γ a' and γ a belong to the same equivalence class.

Real Clifford algebra R3,1

Developed by Ettore Majorana, this Clifford module enables the construction of a Dirac-like equation without complex numbers, and its elements are called Majorana spinors.

The four basis vectors are the three Pauli matrices and a fourth antihermitian matrix. The signature is (+++-). For the signatures (+---) and (---+) often used in physics, 4x4 complex matrices or 8x8 real matrices are needed.

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