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What are the applications of group theory?

  1. Jun 17, 2011 #1
    Outside of pure mathematics, where is group theory used?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2011 #2


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    It is used extensively in Quantum Physics. For example, both Michael Tinkham and Volker Heine have written books titled "Group Theory and Quantum Physics".

    Also group theory can be used to determine which polynomial equations can be solved in terms of radicals. (That was, in fact, the main reason for the development of group theory.) That is still mathematics but not what I would consider "pure" mathematics.
  4. Jun 17, 2011 #3
    Yes, indeed.
    Group theory is extensively applied in Theoretical Physics:
    General and Spacial Relativity
    Elementary Particles
    Quantum Physics
  5. Jun 17, 2011 #4
  6. Jun 17, 2011 #5


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    it is also used in chemistry to study molecular symmetry (many chemicals have chemical properties that derive partially or wholly from the types of symmetry they possess). this is especialy important in crystallography and spectroscopy.

    group theory is an important part of cryptography (the study of codes), and plays a prominent role in understanding such techniques as RSA encryption.

    cyclic groups play a role in musicology, and form a mathematical basis for the 12-tone system.

    group theory is important in algebraic topology, which finds application, among other things, in design of computer networks and communication systems.

    finally, there is group theory in symmetric artistic design elements (the so-called "frieze groups" and "ornament groups") used in textiles, printing, wall-papers, tiling (especially in arabic mosques), and such common-place items as kaleidoscopes (reflections form a group).

    in short, groups are everywhere! if you've ever "counted by 2's or 3's" you were using intuitively a natural group property of the integers. the shuffling of a deck of cards, rotating a sphere in space, even our way of using a circle to measure time, these are all groups at work in our everyday lives.
  7. Jun 18, 2011 #6
    Thank you all. I'm learning the basics of it right now and I was just wondering where the hell it's used :tongue:
  8. Jun 18, 2011 #7


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    group theory is the mathematics of symmetry, so just think about the places where symmetry occurs.
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