Permutation groups containing a regular abelian subgroup : the tangled history of two mistakes of Burnside. / Wildon, Mark.

In: Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 27.05.2019, p. 1-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print



A group K is said to be a B-group if every permutation group containing K as a regular subgroup is either imprimitive or 2-transitive. In the second edition of his influential textbook on finite groups, Burnside published a proof that cyclic groups of composite prime-power degree are B-groups. Ten years later in 1921 he published a proof that every abelian group of composite degree is a B-group. Both proofs are character-theoretic and both have serious flaws. Indeed, the second result is false. In this note we explain these flaws and prove that every cyclic group of composite order is a B-group, using only Burnside's character-theoretic methods. We also survey the related literature, prove some new results on B-groups of prime-power order, state two related open problems and present some new computational data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalMathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Early online date27 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 May 2019
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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