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Concept# Spin representation

Summary

In mathematics, the spin representations are particular projective representations of the orthogonal or special orthogonal groups in arbitrary dimension and signature (i.e., including indefinite orthogonal groups). More precisely, they are two equivalent representations of the spin groups, which are double covers of the special orthogonal groups. They are usually studied over the real or complex numbers, but they can be defined over other fields.
Elements of a spin representation are called spinors. They play an important role in the physical description of fermions such as the electron.
The spin representations may be constructed in several ways, but typically the construction involves (perhaps only implicitly) the choice of a maximal isotropic subspace in the vector representation of the group. Over the real numbers, this usually requires using a complexification of the vector representation. For this reason, it is convenient to define the spin representations over the complex numbers first, and derive real representations by introducing real structures.
The properties of the spin representations depend, in a subtle way, on the dimension and signature of the orthogonal group. In particular, spin representations often admit invariant bilinear forms, which can be used to embed the spin groups into classical Lie groups. In low dimensions, these embeddings are surjective and determine special isomorphisms between the spin groups and more familiar Lie groups; this elucidates the properties of spinors in these dimensions.
Let V be a finite-dimensional real or complex vector space with a nondegenerate quadratic form Q. The (real or complex) linear maps preserving Q form the orthogonal group O(V, Q). The identity component of the group is called the special orthogonal group SO(V, Q). (For V real with an indefinite quadratic form, this terminology is not standard: the special orthogonal group is usually defined to be a subgroup with two components in this case.) Up to group isomorphism, SO(V, Q) has a unique connected double cover, the spin group Spin(V, Q).

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Ontological neighbourhood

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Weyl equation

In physics, particularly in quantum field theory, the Weyl equation is a relativistic wave equation for describing massless spin-1/2 particles called Weyl fermions. The equation is named after Hermann Weyl. The Weyl fermions are one of the three possible types of elementary fermions, the other two being the Dirac and the Majorana fermions. None of the elementary particles in the Standard Model are Weyl fermions. Previous to the confirmation of the neutrino oscillations, it was considered possible that the neutrino might be a Weyl fermion (it is now expected to be either a Dirac or a Majorana fermion).

Spin group

In mathematics the spin group Spin(n) is a Lie group whose underlying manifold is the double cover of the special orthogonal group SO(n) = SO(n, R), such that there exists a short exact sequence of Lie groups (when n ≠ 2) The group multiplication law on the double cover is given by lifting the multiplication on . As a Lie group, Spin(n) therefore shares its dimension, n(n − 1)/2, and its Lie algebra with the special orthogonal group. For n > 2, Spin(n) is simply connected and so coincides with the universal cover of SO(n).

Clifford module

In mathematics, a Clifford module is a representation of a Clifford algebra. In general a Clifford algebra C is a central simple algebra over some field extension L of the field K over which the quadratic form Q defining C is defined. The abstract theory of Clifford modules was founded by a paper of M. F. Atiyah, R. Bott and Arnold S. Shapiro. A fundamental result on Clifford modules is that the Morita equivalence class of a Clifford algebra (the equivalence class of the category of Clifford modules over it) depends only on the signature p − q (mod 8).

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