Simple Lie group

In mathematics, a simple Lie group is a connected non-abelian Lie group G which does not have nontrivial connected normal subgroups. The list of simple Lie groups can be used to read off the list of simple Lie algebras and Riemannian symmetric spaces.

Together with the commutative Lie group of the real numbers, , and that of the unit-magnitude complex numbers, U(1) (the unit circle), simple Lie groups give the atomic "blocks" that make up all (finite-dimensional) connected Lie groups via the operation of group extension. Many commonly encountered Lie groups are either simple or 'close' to being simple: for example, the so-called "special linear group" SL(n) of n by n matrices with determinant equal to 1 is simple for all n > 1.

The simple Lie groups were first classified by Wilhelm Killing and later perfected by Élie Cartan. This classification is often referred to as Killing-Cartan classification.


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