A Categorical Study of Composition Algebras via Group Actions and Triality

Abstract: A composition algebra is a non-zero algebra endowed with a strictly non-degenerate, multiplicative quadratic form. Finite-dimensional composition algebras exist only in dimension 1, 2, 4 and 8 and are in general not associative or unital. Over the real numbers, such algebras are division algebras if and only if they are absolute valued, i.e. equipped with a multiplicative norm. The problem of classifying all absolute valued algebras and, more generally, all composition algebras of finite dimension remains unsolved. In dimension eight, this is related to the triality phenomenon. We approach this problem using a categorical language and tools from representation theory and the theory of algebraic groups.We begin by considering the category of absolute valued algebras of dimension at most four. In Paper I we determine the morphisms of this category completely, and describe their irreducibility and behaviour under the actions of the automorphism groups of the algebras.We then consider the category of eight-dimensional absolute valued algebras, for which we provide a description in Paper II in terms of a group action involving triality. Then we establish general criteria for subcategories of group action groupoids to be full, and applying this to the present setting, we obtain hitherto unstudied subcategories determined by reflections. The reflection approach is further systematized in Paper III, where we obtain a coproduct decomposition of the category of finite-dimensional absolute valued algebras into blocks, for several of which the classification problem does not involve triality. We study these in detail, reducing the problem to that of certain group actions, which we express geometrically.In Paper IV, we use representation theory of Lie algebras to completely classify all finite-dimensional absolute valued algebras having a non-abelian derivation algebra. Introducing the notion of quasi-descriptions, we reduce the problem to the study of actions of rotation groups on products of spheres.We conclude by considering composition algebras over arbitrary fields of characteristic not two in Paper V. We establish an equivalence of categories between the category of eight-dimensional composition algebras with a given quadratic form and a groupoid arising from a group action on certain pairs of outer automorphisms of affine group schemes