from the real line R (as an additive group) to some other topological group G. That means that it is not in fact a group, strictly speaking; if φ is injective then φ(R), the image, will be a subgroup of G that is isomorphic to R as additive group. That is, we start knowing only that
where s, t are the 'parameters' of group elements in G. We may have
for some s ≠ 0. This happens for example if G is the unit circle and
In that case the kernel of φ consists of the integer multiples of 2π.
A technical complication is that φ(R) as subspace of G may carry a topology that is coarser than that on R; this may happen in cases where φ is injective. Think for example of the case where G is a torus T, and φ is constructed by winding a straight line round T at an irrational slope.
Therefore a one-parameter group or one-parameter subgroup has to be distinguished from a group or subgroup itself, for the three reasons
Such one-parameter groups are of basic importance in the theory of Lie groups, for which every element of the associated Lie algebra defines such a homomorphism, the exponential map. In the case of matrix groups it is given by the matrix exponential.
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