This blog has been archived.
Visit my home page at

Convolution of irreducible characters

TL; DR: The actual PDF write-up is here.

Yesterday I was trying to establish the formula for orthogonal primitive central idempotents of a group ring. It is possible to establish the result through the convolution of irreducible characters. However, I stuck quite a while on trying to work out the convolutions themselves. For a formidable and unenlightening proof using "matrix entry functions" (i.e., fix a basis, induce a matrix representation, and explicitly expand everything in matrix elements), see this post (in fact, this is just one in a series of posts that lead up to the result). That's a really sad proof.

It turns out that I really should have been working the other way round — first establish the orthogonal idempotents (the proof of which is really simple and elegant, I was just trapped in a single thread of thought), then use that to compute the convolution of irreducible characters.

I feel like this is worth presenting (as the only proof I saw online is the really sad one above), so I TeX'ed it up. I tried to convert to MathJax HTML but eventually gave up (that's the story for another post). So, the write-up is in good ol' PDF, available here.