Drinfeld, at the age of 20, discovered that the discrete series representations of the finite group can be realized in the -adic cohomology of the curve defined over , Deligne and Lusztig were inspired by this result to associate algebraic varieties to any finite group of Lie type and were extremely successful in using them to construct all representations of such a finite group. We will explain their beautiful ideas and supply concrete examples of Deligne-Lusztig curves. These curves themselves also enjoy extremal geometric and arithmetic properties, which, among others, lead us to contemplate on the answer to life, the universe and everything.
This is a note I prepared for my third Trivial Notions talk at Harvard, Fall 2013. Our main sources are , , , ,  and .
My talk consists of two parts. In the first part I shall define our trivial notion in the title. In second part I shall explain how this definition makes sense.
This completes the first part of my talk. Surprisingly we still have enough time to do the second part. Now let us start with a completely different story.
According to the classification of finite simple groups, except 26 sporadic groups, all finite simple groups fit into three infinite series
A finite group of Lie type, as you can imagine, is a finite group analogue of Lie groups over real or complex numbers.
If you never care about algebraic varieties in positive characteristics, this probably serves as a reason that you probably should. After all these finite groups of Lie type form the major bulk of the building blocks of any finite group!
People familiar with Lie groups shall recall that the reductive groups over an algebraically closed field are classified by certain combinatoric data called root data, which are, roughly speaking, instructions telling you how to glue the building blocks (and tori) to obtain . These fit into 4 infinite series , , , and five exceptional ones , , , , according to the associated Dynkin diagram (please refer to the picture on the wall outside 507 if you have good eyesight). For example, consists of the general linear group and its variations , , and so on.
In general, such a endomorphism induces an automorphism of the Dynkin diagram with arrow disregarded. Besides the -points of the split groups (a.k.a., Chevalley groups), we have new series of finite groups of Lie type:
For the last three groups, the involution on the Dynkin diagram does not preserve the length of the roots and they are not -points of any reductive groups! (You may want to think of them as points of a reductive group defined over a field of or elements, which of course does not make sense).
Now I have described the classification of finite groups of Lie type. You may find it interesting or simply don't care. But it will certainly become more interesting when a finite group acts on objects that you care more about, e.g., topological spaces, manifolds, algebraic varieties... Linearizing such an action gives rise to a linear representation of . So how can we understand all the irreducible representations of when is a finite group of Lie type? Let us consider the simplest (but already rich enough) example .
Over the complex numbers, the representation theory of any finite group is rather clean: any finite dimensional representation of decomposes as a direct sum of irreducible subrepresentations. A representation is characterized by its character . is irreducible if and only if . The number of irreducible representations of is the same as the number of conjugacy classes of . And so on.
The conjugacy classes of can be classified using elementary methods. For simplicity we shall assume that is odd. The representatives can be chosen as
Notice acts on and produces a nonsplit torus . Restricting to the norm one elements, we obtain , a nonsplit torus of order . Over , its elements are conjugate to elements of the form .
So in total we have conjugacy classes. How do we construct irreducible representations of ? One usual way to build the character table of any finite group is to try to induce known representations of subgroups of . A nice subgroup is given by the split diagonal torus , which is a cyclic group of order . The irreducible representations of are simply the characters . But itself is too small which makes huge and far from irreducible. Instead we can view as a character on the Borel subgroup (trivial on the unipotent subgroup ). The resulting representation produced this way is called a parabolic induction.
This gives us irreducible representations and there are (about half) left to be discovered. It turns out of them has dimension (discrete series representations) and 2 of them has dimension (half discrete series representations). Looking at the number , one is tempted to induce a character of to construct the rest, but since there is no Borel subgroup containing it, there is no parabolic induction and the naive induction is more complicated than our expectation. Of course, one can mess around the character table and construct the discrete series representations using brutal force; but life would be harder for groups other than .
If you are Drinfeld, then at this stage you must have realized that the right thing to look at is the affine curve defined by the equation What is nice about it? First of all, the group acts on it by . More interestingly, it admits the action of given by the linear transformation Indeed, by characteristic miracle and so fixes the determinant ! These two actions commute with each other and produce a large group of automorphisms of .
Let be -adic etale cohomology groups with compact support of . Then the group naturally acts on .
So we successfully "induce" a character of to obtain a (virtual) character of . It behaves much nicer than the naive induction from to .
The discrete series representations have been realized in the cohomology of . Contemplating on this beautiful example, the following geometric picture emerges: the group acts on "horizontally" and acts on "vertically" by permuting the points in the fiber of . One should really think of as the flag variety of and is a finite covering with the covering group the nonsplit torus .
We come back to the general consideration of finite groups of Lie type . Deligne and Lusztig generalized Drinfeld's construction to associate varieties to any such .
Let be a -stable maximal torus and be a -stable Borel containing (their existence is ensured by Lang's theorem). Let be the Weyl group. All Borel subgroups of are conjugate: so the conjugate action of on the set of Borel subgroups of is transitive and the stabilizer the action of on is simply itself. Therefore we have a bijection Now the Bruhat decomposition tells us that We say the two Borel subgroups and are in relative position , where is the image of in . The nice thing is that itself is a projective variety over . We cut out a locally closed subvariety (Deligne-Lusztig variety) consisting of Borel subgroups such that and that are in relative position . In other words, It is a smooth quasi-projective (indeed, quasi-affine, and conjecturally, affine) variety of dimension . This gives a stratification Notice the left action of doesn't change the relative position, hence acts on each from the left, which is what we want.
Let be the unipotent radical of . Then is a -torsor: normalizes and acts on from the right. We define similarly a locally closed subvariety Then is indeed a -torsor, where . Now we can play the same game by "inducing" a character of the torus to obtain a virtual character of using the cohomology of the Deligne-Lusztig variety .
By carefully studying the geometry of the varieties and . Deligne-Lusztig proved:
To complete the construction of all irreducible representations of any finite group of Lie type, it "suffices" to decompose each when is not in general position. This task is far from trivial but was eventually done by Lusztig in 80's in a series of papers and books.
Finally, let us consider the special case when dimension of is one-dimensional. This corresponds to the case is a simple reflection. The relevant groups are groups of -rank 1. There are only four such groups: , , , . Let , then is a smooth projective curve over . One can compute the Euler characteristic of (hence the genus) and the number of rational points of (= ) from the finite group data using the fixed point formula. We gather the results here (c.f., ).
Now there comes no surprise that these curves admits a large number of automorphisms. A theorem of Stichtenoth asserts that except is Fermat curve . A theorem of Henn shows that except the Fermat curve , the DLS, the hyperelliptic curve () and the curve (, ). Amazingly enough you can go home and check by hand that the Deligne-Lusztig curves , DLS, DLR are all maximal curves: they all achieve the Hasse-Weil bound for the number of -rational points!
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Representations of finite groups of Lie type, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.
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Modular representations of finite groups of Lie type, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006.
A note on superspecial and maximal curves, Bull. Iranian Math. Soc 39 (2013), 405-413.
Deligne-Lusztig varieties and group codes, Coding theory and algebraic geometry (Luminy, 1991), Lecture Notes in Math., 1518 Springer, 1992, 63--81.