49 Generic Character Tables

This chapter informs about the conception of generic character tables (see More about Generic Character Tables), it gives some examples of generic tables (see Examples of Generic Character Tables), and introduces the specialization function (see CharTableSpecialized).

The generic tables that are actually available in the GAP group Contents of the Table Libraries.


  1. More about Generic Character Tables
  2. Examples of Generic Character Tables
  3. CharTableSpecialized

49.1 More about Generic Character Tables

Generic character tables provide a means for writing down the character tables of all groups in a (usually infinite) series of similar groups, e.g. the cyclic groups, the symmetric groups or the general linear groups {rm GL}(2,q).

Let {G_q|q in I}, where I is an index set, be such a series. The table of a member G_q could be computed using a program for this series which takes q as parameter, and constructs the table. It is, however, desirable to compute not only the whole table but to get a single character or just one character value without computation the table. E.g. both conjugacy classes and irreducible characters of the symmetric group S_n are in bijection with the partitions of n. Thus for given n, it makes sense to ask for the character corresponding to a particular partition, and its value at a partition:

    gap> t:= CharTable( "Symmetric" );;
    gap> t.irreducibles[1][1]( 5, [ 3, 2 ], [ 2, 2, 1 ] );
    1  # a character value of $S_5$
    gap> t.orders[1]( 5, [ 2, 1, 1, 1 ] );
    2  # a representative order in $S_5$

Generic table in GAP means that such local evaluation is possible, so GAP can also deal with tables that are too big to be computed as a whole. In some cases there are methods to compute the complete table of small members G_q faster than local evaluation. If such an algorithm is part of the generic table, it will be used when the generic table is used to compute the whole table (see CharTableSpecialized).

While the numbers of conjugacy classes for the series are usually not bounded, there is a fixed finite number of types (equivalence classes) of conjugacy classes; very often the equivalence relation is isomorphism of the centralizer of the representatives.

For each type t of classes and a fixed q in I, a parametrisation of the classes in t is a function that assigns to each conjugacy class of G_q in t a parameter by which it is uniquely determined. Thus the classes are indexed by pairs (t,p_t) for a type t and a parameter p_t for that type.

There has to be a fixed number of types of irreducibles characters of G_q, too. Like the classes, the characters of each type are parametrised.

In GAP, the parametrisations of classes and characters of the generic table is given by the record fields classparam and charparam; they are both lists of functions, each function representing the parametrisation of a type. In the specialized table, the field classparam contains the lists of class parameters, the character parameters are stored in the field charparam of the irredinfo records (see Character Table Records).

The centralizer orders, representative orders and all powermaps of the generic character table can be represented by functions in q, t and p_t; in GAP, however, they are represented by lists of functions in q and a class parameter where each function represents a type of classes. The value of a powermap at a particular class is a pair consisting of type and parameter that specifies the image class.

The values of the irreducible characters of G_q can be represented by functions in q, class type and parameter, character type and parameter; in GAP, they are represented by lists of lists of functions, each list of functions representing the characters of a type, the function (in q, character parameters and class parameters) representing the classes of a type in these characters.

Any generic table is a record like an ordinary character table (see Character Table Records). There are some fields which are used for generic tables only:


always true


function that maps q to the name of the table of G_q


function that returns true if its argument is a valid q for G_q in the series


function to construct the whole table, more efficient than the local evaluation for this purpose

The table of G_q can be constructed by specializing q and evaluating the functions in the generic table (see CharTableSpecialized and the examples given in Examples of Generic Character Tables).

Contents of the Table Libraries and CharTable.

49.2 Examples of Generic Character Tables

1. The generic table of the cyclic group:

For the cyclic group C_q = < x > of order q, there is one type of classes. The class parameters are integers k in {0,ldots,q-1}, the class of the parameter k consists of the group element x^k. Group order and centralizer orders are the identity function q mapsto q, independent of the parameter k.

The representative order function maps (q,k) to frac{q}{gcd(q,k)}, the order of x^k in C_q; the p-th powermap is the function (q,k,p) mapsto [1,(kpbmod q)].

There is one type of characters with parameters l in {0,ldots,q-1}; for e_q a primitive complex q-th root of unity, the character values are chi_l(x^k) = e_q^{kl}.

The library file contains the following generic table:

    text:="generic character table for cyclic groups",
    centralizers:=[function(n,k) return n;end],
    powermap:=[function(n,k,pow) return [1,k*pow mod n];end],
    orders:=[function(n,k) return n/Gcd(n,k);end],
    irreducibles:=[[function(n,k,l) return E(n)^(k*l);end]],
    domain:=(n->IsInt(n) and n>0),

2. The generic table of the general linear group rm{GL}(2,q):

We have four types t_1, t_2, t_3, t_4 of classes according to the

rational canonical form of the elements::

t_1 scalar matrices,
t_2 nonscalar diagonal matrices,
t_3 companion matrices of (X-rho)^2 for elements rho in F_q^{ast} and
t_4 companion matrices of irreducible polynomials of degree 2 over F_q.

The sets of class parameters of the types are in bijection with
F_q^{ast} for t_1 and t_3, {{rho,tau}; rho, tau in F_q^{ast}, rhonot=tau} for t_2 and {{epsilon,epsilon^q}; epsilon in F_{q^2}setminus F_q} for t_4.

The centralizer order functions are q mapsto (q^2-1)(q^2-q) for type t_1, q mapsto (q-1)^2 for type t_2, q mapsto q(q-1) for type t_3 and q mapsto q^2-1 for type t_4.

The representative order function of t_1 maps (q,rho) to the order of rho in F_q, that of t_2 maps (q,{rho,tau}) to the least common multiple of the orders of rho and tau.

The file contains something similar to this table:

        order:= ( q -> (q^2-1)*(q^2-q) ),
        text:= "generic character table of GL(2,q),\
     see Robert Steinberg: The Representations of Gl(3,q), Gl(4,q),\
     PGL(3,q) and PGL(4,q), Canad. J. Math. 3 (1951)",
        classparam:= [ ( q -> [0..q-2] ), ( q -> [0..q-2] ),
                   ( q -> Combinations( [0..q-2], 2 ) ),
                   ( q -> Filtered( [1..q^2-2], x -> not (x mod (q+1) = 0)
                               and (x mod (q^2-1)) < (x*q mod (q^2-1)) ))],
        charparam:= [ ( q -> [0..q-2] ), ( q -> [0..q-2] ),
                  ( q -> Combinations( [0..q-2], 2 ) ),
                  ( q -> Filtered( [1..q^2-2], x -> not (x mod (q+1) = 0)
                               and (x mod (q^2-1)) < (x*q mod (q^2-1)) ))],
        centralizers := [ function( q, k ) return (q^2-1) * (q^2-q); end,
                          function( q, k ) return q^2-q; end,
                          function( q, k ) return (q-1)^2; end,
                          function( q, k ) return q^2-1; end],
        orders:= [ function( q, k ) return (q-1)/Gcd( q-1, k ); end,
                 ..., ..., ... ],
        classtext:= [ ..., ..., ..., ... ],
               [ function( q, k, pow ) return [1, (k*pow) mod (q-1)]; end,
                 ..., ..., ... ],
        irreducibles := [[ function( q, k, l ) return E(q-1)^(2*k*l); end,
                       function( q, k, l ) return E(q-1)^(2*k*l); end,
                       function( q, k, l ) return E(q-1)^(k*l); end    ],
                         [ ..., ..., ..., ... ],
                         [ ..., ..., ..., ... ],
                         [ ..., ..., ..., ... ]],
        domain := ( q->IsInt(q) and q>1 and Length(Set(FactorsInt(q)))=1 ),
        isGenericTable := true )

49.3 CharTableSpecialized

CharTableSpecialized( generic_table, q )

returns a character table which is computed by evaluating the generic character table generic_table at the parameter q.

    gap> t:= CharTableSpecialized( CharTable( "Cyclic" ), 5 );;
    gap> PrintCharTable( t );
    rec( identifier := "C5", name := "C5", size := 5, order :=
    5, centralizers := [ 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 ], orders := [ 1, 5, 5, 5, 5
     ], powermap := [ ,,,, [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 ] ], irreducibles :=
    [ [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 ], [ 1, E(5), E(5)^2, E(5)^3, E(5)^4 ],
      [ 1, E(5)^2, E(5)^4, E(5), E(5)^3 ],
      [ 1, E(5)^3, E(5), E(5)^4, E(5)^2 ],
      [ 1, E(5)^4, E(5)^3, E(5)^2, E(5) ] ], classparam :=
    [ [ 1, 0 ], [ 1, 1 ], [ 1, 2 ], [ 1, 3 ], [ 1, 4 ] ], irredinfo :=
    [ rec(
          charparam := [ 1, 0 ] ), rec(
          charparam := [ 1, 1 ] ), rec(
          charparam := [ 1, 2 ] ), rec(
          charparam := [ 1, 3 ] ), rec(
          charparam := [ 1, 4 ] )
     ], text := "computed using generic character table for cyclic groups"\
    , classes := [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
     ], operations := CharTableOps, fusions := [  ], fusionsource :=
    [  ], projections := [  ], projectionsource := [  ] )

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GAP 3.4.4
April 1997