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Concept# Spin group

Summary

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).
The non-trivial element of the kernel is denoted −1, which should not be confused with the orthogonal transform of reflection through the origin, generally denoted −I.
Spin(n) can be constructed as a subgroup of the invertible elements in the Clifford algebra Cl(n). A distinct article discusses the spin representations.
The spin group is used in physics to describe the symmetries of (electrically neutral, uncharged) fermions. Its complexification, Spinc, is used to describe electrically charged fermions, most notably the electron. Strictly speaking, the spin group describes a fermion in a zero-dimensional space; but of course, space is not zero-dimensional, and so the spin group is used to define spin structures on (pseudo-)Riemannian manifolds: the spin group is the structure group of a spinor bundle. The affine connection on a spinor bundle is the spin connection; the spin connection is useful as it can simplify and bring elegance to many intricate calculations in general relativity. The spin connection in turn enables the Dirac equation to be written in curved spacetime (effectively in the tetrad coordinates), which in turn provides a footing for quantum gravity, as well as a formalization of Hawking radiation (where one of a pair of entangled, virtual fermions falls past the event horizon, and the other does not). In short, the spin group is a vital cornerstone, centrally important for understanding advanced concepts in modern theoretical physics.

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Spin representation

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.

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In mathematics, a covering group of a topological group H is a covering space G of H such that G is a topological group and the covering map p : G → H is a continuous group homomorphism. The map p is called the covering homomorphism. A frequently occurring case is a double covering group, a topological double cover in which H has index 2 in G; examples include the spin groups, pin groups, and metaplectic groups.

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