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In mathematics, the simple Lie groups were classified by Élie Cartan.
The list of simple Lie groups can be used to read off the list of simple Lie algebras and Riemannian symmetric spaces. See also the table of Lie groups for a smaller list of groups that commonly occur in theoretical physics, and the Bianchi classification for groups of dimension at most 3.
## Simple Lie groups

Unfortunately there is no generally accepted definition of a simple Lie group, and in particular it is not necessarily defined as a Lie group that is simple as an abstract group. Authors differ on whether a simple Lie group has to be connected, or on whether it is allowed to have a non-trivial center, or on whether R is a simple Lie group. ## Simple Lie algebras

## Symmetric spaces

## Hermitian symmetric spaces

## Notation

## The list of simple Lie groups

### R (Abelian)

### A_{n} (n ≥ 1) compact

### A_{n} I (n ≥ 1) (split)

### A_{2n−1} II (n ≥ 2)

### A_{n} III (n ≥ 1, p + q = n + 1, 1 ≤ p ≤ q)

### A_{n} (n ≥ 1) complex

### B_{n} (n > 1) compact

### B_{n} I (n > 1)

### B_{n} (n > 1) complex

### C_{n} (n ≥ 3) compact

### C_{n} I (n ≥ 3) (split)

### C_{n} II (n > 2, n = p + q, 1 ≤ p ≤ q)

### C_{n} (n > 2) complex

### D_{n} (n ≥ 4) compact

### D_{n} I(n ≥ 4)

### D_{n} III (n ≥ 4)

### D_{n} (n > 3) complex

### E_{6}^{−78} (compact)

### E_{6}^{6} I (split)

### E_{6}^{2} II

### E_{6}^{−14} III

### E_{6}^{−26} IV

### E_{6} complex

### E_{7}^{−133} (compact)

### E_{7}^{7} V (split)

### E_{7}^{−5} VI

### E_{7}^{−25} VII

### E_{7} complex

### E_{8}^{−248} compact

### E_{8}^{8} VIII (split)

### E_{8}^{−24} IX

### E_{8} complex

### F_{4}^{−52} compact

### F_{4}^{4} I split

### F_{4}^{−20} II

### F_{4} complex

### G_{2}^{−14} compact

### G_{2}^{2} I split

### G_{2} complex

## Simple Lie groups of small dimension

## Symmetric spaces of small dimension or rank

## Further reading

The most common definition implies that simple Lie groups must be connected, and non-abelian, but are allowed to have a non-trivial center.

In this article the connected simple Lie groups with trivial center are listed. Once these are known, the ones with non-trivial center are easy to list as follows. Any simple Lie group with trivial center has a universal cover, whose center is the fundamental group of the simple Lie group. The corresponding simple Lie groups with non-trivial center can be obtained as quotients of this universal cover by a subgroup of the center.

The Lie algebra of a simple Lie group is a simple Lie algebra, and this gives a one to one correspondence between connected simple Lie groups with trivial center and simple Lie algebras of dimension greater than 1. (Authors differ on whether the one dimensional Lie algebra should be counted as simple.)

Over the complex numbers the simple Lie algebras are given by the usual "ABCDEFG" classification. If L is a real simple Lie algebra, its complexification is a simple complex Lie algebra, unless L is already the complexification of a Lie algebra, in which case the complexification of L is a product of two copies of L. This reduces the problem of classifying the real simple Lie algebras to that of finding all the real forms of each complex simple Lie algebra. There are always at least 2 such forms: a split form and a compact form, and there are usually a few others. The different real forms correspond to the classes of automorphisms of order at most 2 of the complex Lie algebra.

Symmetric spaces are classified as follows.

First, the universal cover of a symmetric space is still symmetric, so we can reduce to the case of simply connected symmetric spaces. (For example, the universal cover of a real projective plane is a sphere.)

Second, the product of symmetric spaces is symmetric, so we may as well just classify the irreducible simply connected ones (where irreducible means they cannot be written as a product of smaller symmetric spaces).

The irreducible simply connected symmetric spaces are the real line, and exactly two symmetric spaces corresponding to each non-compact simple Lie group G, one compact and one non-compact. The non-compact one is a cover of the quotient of G by a maximal compact subgroup H, and the compact one is a cover of the quotient of the compact form of G by the same subgroup H. This duality between compact and non-compact symmetric spaces is a generalization of the well known duality between spherical and hyperbolic geometry.

A symmetric space with a compatible complex structure is called Hermitian. The compact simply connected irreducible Hermitian symmetric spaces fall into 4 infinite families with 2 exceptional ones left over, and each has a non-compact dual. In addition the complex plane is also a Hermitian symmetric space; this gives the complete list of irreducible Hermitian symmetric spaces.

The four families are the types A III, B I and D I for p=2, D III, and C I, and the two exceptional ones are types E III and E VII of complex dimensions 16 and 27.

R, C, H, and O stand for the real numbers, complex numbers, quaternions, and octonions.

In the symbols such as E_{6}^{−26} for the exceptional groups, the exponent −26 is the signature of an invariant symmetric bilinear form that is negative definite on the maximal compact subgroup. It is equal to the dimension of the group minus twice the dimension of a maximal compact subgroup.

The fundamental group listed in the table below is the fundamental group of the simple group with trivial center. Other simple groups with the same Lie algebra correspond to subgroups of this fundamental group (modulo the action of the outer automorphism group).

Dimension: 1

Outer automorphism group: R^{*}

Dimension of symmetric space: 1

Symmetric space: R

Remarks: This group is not simple as an abstract group, and according to most (but not all) definitions this is not a simple Lie group. Most authors
do not count its Lie algebra as a simple Lie algebra. It is listed here so that the list of irreducible simply connected symmetric spaces is complete.
Note that R is the only such non-compact symmetric space without a compact dual (although of course it has a compact quotient S^{1}).

Dimension: n(n + 2)

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: Cyclic, order n + 1

Outer automorphism group: 1 if n = 1, 2 if n > 1.

Other names: PSU(n + 1), projective special unitary group.

Remarks: A_{1} is the same as the compact forms of
B_{1} and C_{1}

Dimension: n(n + 2)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: D_{n/2} or B_{(n−1)/2}

Fundamental group: 2 if n ≥ 2, infinite cyclic if n = 1.

Outer automorphism group: 1 if n = 1, 2 if n ≥ 2.

Other names: PSL_{n+1}(R), projective special linear group.

Dimension of symmetric space: n(n + 3)/2

Compact symmetric space: Real structures on C^{n+1} or set of
RP^{n} in CP^{n}. Hermitian if n = 1, in which case it is the sphere.

Non-compact symmetric space: Euclidean structures on R^{n+1}. Hermitian if n = 1, when it is the upper half plane
or unit complex disc.

Remarks:

Dimension: (2n − 1)(2n + 1)

Real rank: n − 1

Maximal compact subgroup: C_{n}

Fundamental group:

Outer automorphism group:

Other names: SL_{n}(H), SU^{*}(2n)

Dimension of symmetric space: (n − 1)(2n + 1)

Compact symmetric space: Quaternionic structures on C^{2n} compatible with the Hermitian structure.

Non-compact symmetric space: Copies of quaternionic hyperbolic space (of dimension n − 1) in complex hyperbolic space (of dimension 2n − 1).

Remarks:

Dimension: n(n + 2)

Real rank: p

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{p−1}A_{q−1}S^{1}

Fundamental group:

Outer automorphism group:

Other names: SU(p,q), A III

Dimension of symmetric space: 2pq

Compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 2. Grassmannian of p subspaces of C^{p+q}.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 2. Grassmannian of maximal positive definite subspaces of C^{p,q}.

Remarks:

Dimension: 2n(n + 2)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{n}

Fundamental group: Cyclic, order n + 1

Outer automorphism group: 2 if n = 1, 4 (noncyclic) if n ≥ 2.

Other names: PSL_{n+1}(C), complex projective special linear group.

Dimension of symmetric space: n(n + 2)

Compact symmetric space: Compact group A_{n}

Non-compact symmetric space: Hermitian forms on C^{n+1}
with fixed volume.

Remarks:

Dimension: n(2n + 1)

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: SO_{2n+1}(R), special orthogonal group.

Remarks: B_{1} is the same as A_{1} and
C_{1}. B_{2} is the same as
C_{2}.

Dimension: n(2n + 1)

Real rank: min(p,q)

Maximal compact subgroup:

Fundamental group:

Outer automorphism group:

Other names: SO(p,q)

Dimension of symmetric space: pq

Compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of R^{p}s in R^{p+q}. This is projective space if p or q is 1. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 4. Hermitian if p or q is 2.

Non-compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of positive definite R^{p}s in R^{p,q}. This is hyperbolic space if p or q is 1. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 4. Hermitian if p or q is 2.

Remarks:

Dimension: 2n(2n + 1)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: B_{n}

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: order 2 (complex conjugation)

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: n(2n + 1)

Compact symmetric space: Compact group B_{n}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: n(2n + 1)

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: Sp(n), Sp(2n), USp(n), USp(2n)

Remarks: C_{1} is the same as B_{1}
and A_{1}. C_{2} is the same as B_{2}.

Dimension: n(2n + 1)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{n−1}S^{1}

Fundamental group: infinite cyclic

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: Symplectic group, Sp_{2n}(R), Sp(2n,R),Sp(2n), Sp(n,R), Sp(n)

Dimension of symmetric space: n(n + 1)

Compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Complex structures of H^{n}. Copies of complex projective space in quaternionic projective space.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Lagrangian subspaces of R^{2n}. Set of complex hyperbolic spaces in quaternionic hyperbolic space. Siegel upper half plane.

Remarks: C_{2} is the same as B_{2}, and
C_{1} is the same as B_{1} and A_{1}.

Dimension: n(2n + 1)

Real rank: min(p,q)

Maximal compact subgroup: C_{p}C_{q}

Fundamental group: Order 2

Outer automorphism group: Trivial unless p=q, in which case it has order 2.

Other names: Sp_{2p,2q}(R)

Dimension of symmetric space: 4pq

Compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of H^{p}s in H^{p+q}. Quaternionic projective space if p or q is 1, in which case it is Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of positive definite H^{p}s in H^{p,q}. Quaternionic hyperbolic space if p or q is 1, in which case it is Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 2n(2n + 1)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: C_{n}

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: Order 2 (complex conjugation)

Other names: Complex symplectic group, Sp_{2n}(C)

Dimension of symmetric space: n(2n + 1)

Compact symmetric space: Compact group C_{n}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: n(2n − 1)

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: Order 4, (cyclic when n is odd).

Outer automorphism group: 2 if n > 4, S_{3} if n = 4.

Other names: PSO_{2n}(R), projective special orthogonal group

Remarks: D_{3} is the same as A_{3},
D_{2} is the same as A_{1}^{2}, and D_{1}
is abelian.

Dimension: n(2n − 1)

Real rank: min(p,q) (p+q=2n)

Maximal compact subgroup:

Fundamental group: Order 8 if p and q are both at least 3.

Outer automorphism group:

Other names: PSO_{p,q}(R)

Dimension of symmetric space: pq

Compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of R^{p}s in R^{p+q}. This is projective space if p or q is 1. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 4. Hermitian if p or q is 2.

Non-compact symmetric space: Grassmannian of positive definite R^{p}s in R^{p,q}. This is hyperbolic space if p or q is 1. Quaternion-Kähler if p or q is 4. Hermitian if p or q is 2.

Remarks:

Dimension: n(2n − 1)

Real rank: n/2 or (n − 1)/2

Lie algebra of maximal compact subgroup: A_{n−1}R^{1}

Fundamental group: Infinite `cyclic

Outer automorphism group: Order 2.

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: n(n − 1)

Compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Complex structures on R^{2n} compatible with the Euclidean structure.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Quaternionic quadratic forms on R^{2n}.

Remarks:

Dimension: 2n(2n − 1)

Real rank: n

Maximal compact subgroup: D_{n}

Fundamental group: Order 4, (cyclic when n is odd).

Outer automorphism group: Noncyclic of order 4 for n>4, or the product of a group of order 2 and the symmetric group on 3 points when n=4.

Other names: Complex projective special orthogonal group, PSO_{2n}(C)

Dimension of symmetric space: n(2n − 1)

Compact symmetric space: Compact group D_{n}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 78

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 3

Outer automorphism group: 2

Other names:

Remarks:

Dimension: 78

Real rank: 6

Maximal compact subgroup: C_{4}

Fundamental group: Order 2

Outer automorphism group: Order 2

Other names: E I

Dimension of symmetric space: 42

Compact symmetric space:

Non-compact symmetric space:

Dimension: 78

Real rank: 4

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{5}A_{1}

Fundamental group: Cyclic, order 6.

Outer automorphism group: Order 2

Other names: E II

Dimension of symmetric space: 40

Compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 78

Real rank: 2

Maximal compact subgroup: D_{5}S^{1}

Fundamental group: Infinite cyclic

Outer automorphism group: Trivial

Other names: E III

Dimension of symmetric space: 32

Compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Rosenfeld's elliptic projective plane over the complexified Cayley numbers.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hermitian. Rosenfeld's hyperbolic projective plane over the complexified Cayley numbers.

Remarks:

Dimension: 78

Real rank: 2

Maximal compact subgroup: F_{4}

Fundamental group: Trivial

Outer automorphism group: Order 2

Other names: E IV

Dimension of symmetric space: 26

Compact symmetric space: Set of Cayley projective planes in the projective plane over the complexified Cayley numbers.

Non-compact symmetric space: Set of Cayley hyperbolic planes in the hyperbolic plane over the complexified Cayley numbers.

Remarks:

Dimension: 156

Real rank: 6

Maximal compact subgroup: E_{6}

Fundamental group: 3

Outer automorphism group: Order 4 (non-cyclic)

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 78

Compact symmetric space: Compact group E_{6}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 133

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names:

Remarks:

Dimension: 133

Real rank: 7

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{7}

Fundamental group: Cyclic, order 4

Outer automorphism group: Order 2

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 70

Compact symmetric space:

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 133

Real rank: 4

Maximal compact subgroup: D_{6}A_{1}

Fundamental group: Non-cyclic, order 4

Outer automorphism group: Trivial

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 64

Compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 133

Real rank: 3

Maximal compact subgroup: E_{6}S^{1}

Fundamental group: Infinite cyclic

Outer automorphism group: Order 2

Other names: E VII

Dimension of symmetric space: 54

Compact symmetric space:

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks: Symmetric spaces are Hermitian.

Dimension: 266

Real rank: 7

Maximal compact subgroup: E_{7}

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: Order 2 (complex conjugation)

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 133

Compact symmetric space: Compact group E_{7}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 248

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names:

Remarks:

Dimension: 248

Real rank: 8

Maximal compact subgroup: D_{8}

Fundamental group: 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: E VIII

Dimension of symmetric space: 128

Compact symmetric space:

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks: @ E8

Dimension: 248

Real rank: 4

Maximal compact subgroup: E_{7} × A_{1}

Fundamental group: Order 2.

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: E IX

Dimension of symmetric space: 112

Compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 496

Real rank: 8

Maximal compact subgroup: E_{8}

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: Order 2 (complex conjugation)

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 248

Compact symmetric space: Compact group E_{8}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 52

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names:

Remarks:

Dimension: 52

Real rank: 4

Maximal compact subgroup: C_{3} × A_{1}

Fundamental group: Order 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: F I

Dimension of symmetric space: 28

Compact symmetric space: Quaternionic projective planes in Cayley projective plane.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hyperbolic quaternionic projective planes in hyperbolic Cayley projective plane.

Remarks:

Dimension: 52

Real rank: 1

Maximal compact subgroup: B_{4} (Spin_{9}(R))

Fundamental group: Order 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: F II

Dimension of symmetric space: 16

Compact symmetric space: Cayley projective plane. Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Hyperbolic Cayley projective plane. Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 104

Real rank: 4

Maximal compact subgroup: F_{4}

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: 2

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 52

Compact symmetric space: Compact group F_{4}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

Dimension: 14

Real rank: 0

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names:

Remarks: This is the automorphism group of the Cayley algebra.

Dimension: 14

Real rank: 2

Maximal compact subgroup: A_{1}×A_{1}

Fundamental group: Order 2

Outer automorphism group: 1

Other names: G I

Dimension of symmetric space: 8

Compact symmetric space: Quaternionic subalgebras of the Cayley algebra. Quaternion-Kähler.

Non-compact symmetric space: Non-division quaternionic subalgebras of the non-division Cayley algebra. Quaternion-Kähler.

Remarks:

Dimension: 28

Real rank: 2

Maximal compact subgroup: G_{2}

Fundamental group: 1

Outer automorphism group: Order 2 (complex conjugation)

Other names:

Dimension of symmetric space: 14

Compact symmetric space: Compact group G_{2}

Non-compact symmetric space:

Remarks:

The following table lists some Lie groups with simple Lie algebras of small dimension. The groups on a given line all have the same Lie algebra. In the dimension 1 case, the groups are abelian and not simple.

Dimension | |
---|---|

1 | R, S^{1}=U(1)=SO_{2}(R) |

3 | S^{3}=Sp(1)=SU(2), SO_{3}(R)=PSU(2) (Compact) |

3 | SL_{2}(R)=Sp_{2}(R), SO_{2,1}(R) |

6 | SL_{2}(C)=Sp_{2}(C), SO_{3,1}(R), SO_{3}(C) |

8 | SL_{3}(R'') |

8 | SU(3) |

8 | SU(1,2) |

10 | Sp(2), SO_{5}(R) |

10 | SO_{4,1}(R), Sp_{2,2}(R) |

10 | SO_{3,2}(R),Sp_{4}(R) |

14 | G_{2} (Compact) |

14 | G_{2} (Split) |

15 | SU(4), SO_{6}(R) |

15 | SL_{4}(R), SO_{3,3}(R) |

15 | SU(3,1) |

15 | SU(2,2), SO_{4,2}(R) |

15 | SL_{2}(H), SO_{5,1}(R) |

16 | SL_{3}(C) |

20 | SO_{5}(C), Sp_{4}(C) |

The non-compact simply connected irreducible symmetric spaces of rank 1 are given by hyperbolic spaces over the reals, complex numbers, quaternions, and the hyperbolic plane over the Cayley numbers. The compact duals are given by the corresponding projective spaces.

Here is a table of some simply connected irreducible symmetric spaces of small dimension:

Dimension | Compact | Non-compact |
---|---|---|

1 | R | |

2 | Sphere S^{2} |
Hyperbolic plane H^{2} |

3 | Sphere S^{3} |
Hyperbolic space H^{3} |

4 | Sphere S^{4} |
Hyperbolic space H^{4} |

4 | Complex projective space CP^{2} |
Complex hyperbolic plane CH^{2} |

- Besse, Einstein manifolds ISBN 0-387-15279-2
- Helgason, Differential geometry, Lie groups, and symmetric spaces. ISBN 0-8218-2848-7
- Füchs and Schweigert, Symmetries, Lie algebras, and representations: a graduate course for physicists. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-54119-0

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