Loop group

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In mathematics, a loop group is a group of loops in a topological group G with multiplication defined pointwise.


In its most general form a loop group is a group of mappings from a manifold M to a topological group G.

More specifically,[1] let M = S1, the circle in the complex plane, and let LG denote the space of continuous maps S1G, i.e.

equipped with the compact-open topology. An element of LG is called a loop in G. Pointwise multiplication of such loops gives LG the structure of a topological group. Parametrize S1 with θ,

and define multiplication in LG by

Associativity follows from associativity in G. The inverse is given by

and the identity by

The space LG is called the free loop group on G. A loop group is any subgroup of the free loop group LG.


An important example of a loop group is the group

of based loops on G. It is defined to be the kernel of the evaluation map


and hence is a closed normal subgroup of LG. (Here, e1 is the map that sends a loop to its value at 1.) Note that we may embed G into LG as the subgroup of constant loops. Consequently, we arrive at a split exact sequence


The space LG splits as a semi-direct product,


We may also think of ΩG as the loop space on G. From this point of view, ΩG is a H-space with respect to concatenation of loops. On the face of it, this seems to provide ΩG with two very different product maps. However, it can be shown that concatenation and pointwise multiplication are homotopic. Thus, in terms of the homotopy theory of ΩG, these maps are interchangeable.

Loop groups were used to explain the phenomenon of Bäcklund transforms in soliton equations by Chuu-Lian Terng and Karen Uhlenbeck.[2]


  1. ^ Bäuerle & de Kerf 1997
  2. ^ Geometry of Solitons by Chuu-Lian Terng and Karen Uhlenbeck


  • Bäuerle, G.G.A; de Kerf, E.A. (1997). A. van Groesen; E.M. de Jager; A.P.E. Ten Kroode, eds. Finite and infinite dimensional Lie algebras and their application in physics. Studies in mathematical physics. 7. North-Holland. ISBN 978-0-444-82836-1 – via ScienceDirect. (Subscription required (help)).
  • Pressley, Andrew; Segal, Graeme (1986), Loop groups, Oxford Mathematical Monographs. Oxford Science Publications, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-853535-X, MR 0900587

See also

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