FAQ
Table of contents
 Usage hints
 How can I customise GAP?
 How can I avoid excessive output?
 How can I stop excessive output?
 How can I save my GAP input and output?
 Can I run GAP remotely?
 Why should I use the “screen” program?
 Can I convert a file obtained from the GAP LogTo command into a Latex file?
 When I use
time
orRuntime()
or the profiler to determine how long a piece of GAP code takes, the answers can vary significantly. Why is this?
 Complaints
 Computing with GAP
 How do I perform binary operations on the elements of a group?
 How do I represent my group in GAP?
 Does GAP support additive groups?
 In many algebra books the quaternion group is a group on 8 distinct symbols {i,j,k,1,1,i,j,k}. How can I make GAP use these elements?
 I have a finite presentation for a finite polycyclic group. When I tried to use
PcGroupFpGroup()
to convert it to a pcgroup, I received an error message.  How do I get the elements of my group?
 How do I get the subgroups of my group?
 Is GAP suited for studying combinatorial structures and finite permutation groups?
 How can one compute the Schur Multiplier of a finite group by GAP?
 How can one use GAP to check that given presentation is a nilpotent group of class 2 or not?
 How do I use GAP to “identify” a given group?
 Group Libraries
 Can nonisomorphic groups have equal structure descriptions?
 Programming GAP
Usage hints
How can I customise GAP?
When you start GAP, it looks for files with the names gap.ini
and gaprc
in its root directories (seeGAP Root Directories), and reads the first gap.ini
and the first gaprc
file it finds. These files may be used for certain customisations, for example, to read a file containing functions or data that you always need, to set your personal preferences, to load certain packages, or to define your personal abbreviations for some names in the library, which seems to be too long for you.
For more details about gap.ini
and gaprc
files see the sectionThe gap.ini and gaprc files from the GAP Reference Manual.
In former GAP releases prior to GAP 4.5 a filed called .gaprc
was used for customisations. If you have used the .gaprc
file, see the sectionThe former .gaprc file. from the GAP Reference Manual for the transitional arrangements.
How can I avoid excessive output?
If you expect that the output will have too many lines, typing a double semicolon ;;
at the end of the command line will suppress displaying output on the screen. This will allow you to see more history of your session, and also will prevent your network connection from overloading.
Sometimes a strange indentation behaviour can be repaired by issuing one or several times the command Print("\<\<\<\<\<\<\<");
.
How can I stop excessive output?
In case you did not type the double semicolon ;;
, and GAP started to print too many lines on the screen, sometimes CtrlC may break printing. But this may cause some side effects on the style of the further output, so you should use this measure carefully.
Sometimes a strange indentation behaviour can be repaired by issuing one or several times the command Print("\<\<\<\<\<\<\<");
.
How can I save my GAP input and output?
The command LogTo( namefile ) causes the subsequent interaction to be logged to the file with the name namefile, i.e., everything you see on your terminal will also appear in this file. LogTo may also be used to log to a stream (see LogTo for streams). This file must of course be writable by GAP, otherwise an error is signalled. Note that LogTo will overwrite the previous contents of this file if it already existed.
The most convenient way of creating larger pieces of GAP code is to write them to some text file. For this purpose you can simply use your favorite text editor. You can load such a file into GAP using the command Read( namefile ). See the reference manual sectionFile Operations for information on these and related commands.
The command SaveWorkspace( filename ) will save a “snapshot” image of the current GAP workspace in the file filename. This image then can be loaded by another copy of GAP which then will behave as at the point when SaveWorkspace was called. See the sectionSaving and Loading a Workspace for information on this and related commands.
Can I run GAP remotely?
It is possible to run GAP remotely. Usually this can be done via an ssh
connection. (On Windows one can use, e.g., PuTTY.)
Since GAP uses standard text terminals as user interface, the remote usage is very similar to the usage on a local machine.
Why should I use the “screen” program?
If the remote server is operated by a UNIX operating system, it is very convenient to use the ‘screen’ program  a screen manager with VT100/ANSI terminal emulation. The advantage is that your GAP session will not be lost in case of (unintended) interrupts of your network connection, and that you can close the network connection while GAP is busy with long computations.
It is likely that screen is already installed on your server  just type screen
to check this. (Otherwise look here to get it, or on Linux install the ‘screen’ package from your distribution.) If so, it will be launched and you will see its welcome message. Now you are able to work just as usual, but in case of a broken connection your session will not be closed, and your computations will be continued while you are not connected. When you will connect to the server next time, enter screen r
to restore your session. To detach your session again (i.e. move it into background) press CtrlA and then D (and you will see the normal command line prompt of your UNIX system) or simply close the connection. For more details about screen, see its documentation (for example, type man screen
).
Can I convert a file obtained from the GAP LogTo command into a Latex file?
David Joyner ( wdj@usna.edu) announced in the GAP Forum that he …
… has written a very simple python program which takes a file obtained from the GAP
LogTo
command and converts into a Latex file. You must have the python binary installed in/usr/bin
(on a linux/unix setup). However, if you have the windows version of python then it presumably works with some editing. The file with an example in on David Joyner’s webpage GAP Stuff, if you are interested.
When I use time
or Runtime()
or the profiler to determine how long a piece of GAP code takes, the answers can vary significantly. Why is this?
There are a number of possible reasons for this:
 For some calculations, GAP actually uses randomized algorithms (although, unless you choose otherwise, the results produced are always checked). In these cases, the algorithm may be more or less “lucky” and take a shorter or longer time accordingly. You can usually avoid this variation by setting the random seed to a standard value before each test, using
RANDOM_SEED(1)
.  Garbage collection. The GAP memory manager runs when the system runs out of free memory and can take significant time. To standardise when this happens, run
GASMAN("collect")
before each test.  The granularity of the underlying OS timing function being used is at best 1ms, sometimes courser, so a test which takes 0,1 or 2 ms per run could represent a calculation that takes about 1ms and may cross anywhere between 0 and 2 clock ticks without more than a small variation in how long it takes.
 The method cache. The GAP method selection system caches the last few methods that were used for each operation. The cost of a cache miss is considerable.
 The CPU cache. If the relevant parts of the GAP interpreter and/or of the workspace are in CPU cache when the test starts, this will save some time.
Also note that accessing, especially updating, global variables is significantly slower than local ones.
Complaints
I think I found a bug.
Please refer to the reporting issues page.
My calculation does not finish (or GAP runs out of memory).
Depending on the size or representation of objects, some harmlesslooking commands can involve very expensive (in terms of runtime and of memory use) routines. Typical examples are (without any claim towards completeness):
 Isomorphism tests,
 Calculation of all subgroups,
 Calculations with finitely presented structures.
In these cases the calculation might seemingly run forever or terminate after a while with an error message that GAP could not get more memory.
The first thing to check is the error message you got, as there are two variants:
 cannot extend the workspace any more
 You have hit a hard limit of how much memory is available. This could be due to physical memory in the machine, the operating system used, or the way how GAP was compiled (32 bit versus 64 bit). If you need lots of memory (and have it physically in the machine) you should run a 64 bit binary of GAP (which might require using a 64 bit version of the operating system as well).
 exceeded the permitted memory (o command line option)
 This (far more frequent) error is a safety device to stop GAP from allocating so much memory to bring a machine (probably used for other tasks or by other users as well) to its knees. (A typical situation of this might be if GAP cannot do better at some task than enumerating all elements of a huge group, but the user did not realize this.) In this case an error is triggered and the trigger limit increased by a factor of 2. You could either just type return; and restart the calculation, or exit the break loop and restart the calculation anew. In either case more memory is made available. In case of running a batch job (or being irritated by this error message), you can use the o command line option to set this trigger limit to a higher default level, e.g. the amount of physical memory your machine has. See the sectionCommand Line Options in the Reference Manual for more detail.
Assuming that neither of these fixes is available (your job is using all the physical memory you can have), it often is possible to recast the task in a different way to get the result more efficiently: A few approaches for this are:
 Is there a better representation? Typically PcGroups (only possible for solvable groups) are more efficient than permutation groups are more efficient than matrix groups are more efficient than Fp groups. Use
IsomorphismPermGroup
(or similar) to transfer the calculation into a group in a better representation.  Is there another operation (probably not as general as the one you are using) whose result would be sufficient? (For example it is sufficient to search for psubgroups inside a Sylow subgroup.)
 Is there information you have about the object that GAP will have to find out? Good candidates are the size of a group (use
SetSize
or solvability (useSetIsSolvableGroup
).  Is the amount of data produced by the calculation feasible for the machine you are using?

Does your computation use mutable lists when immutable lists might be better?
In some cases, this can slow down your computation so much that it doesn’t finish. Using immutable lists allows computed properties to be cached, so that further checking of the property is instantaneous. In the example below, the comments were introduced after the interaction.
# create a mutable, sorted list gap> a:=List([0..20000],i>WordAlp("a",i));; gap> IsSortedList(a); true gap> time; 256 gap> IsSortedList(a); true gap> time; 260 # Time to check if it is sorted is about the same every occasion gap> KnownPropertiesOfObject(a); [ "IsFinite", "IsSmallList" ] # not much is known about a gap> b:=Immutable(a);; gap> KnownPropertiesOfObject(b); [ "IsFinite", "IsSmallList" ] # also not much is known about b # check sortedness for the first time gap> IsSortedList(b); true gap> time; 284 # about the same time it took for a. now, check again gap> IsSortedList(b); true gap> time; 0 # caching miracle! In this process, a lot was learned about b: gap> KnownPropertiesOfObject(b); [ "IS_SSORT_LIST", "IsFinite", "IsSmallList", "IsSortedList", "IsDuplicateFree" ]
This example point to an important consequence: lookup in
b
is much faster than searching ina
, since, asb
is known to be sorted, binary search is used for the lookup.
My calculation with matrix groups is slow/runs out of memory.
GAP currently translates essentially every calculation with matrix groups to an isomorphic permutation group. Two possible bottlenecks are:
 Intermediate results might get transferred back to matrix form and are immediately converted again in a permutation: Because of this it is often quicker to work in the isomorphic permutation group (obtained via
IsomorphismPermGroup
, see the section ‘Computing a Permutation Representation’ of the GAP reference manual) and only to translate the final result back to matrix form, using the same homomorphism.  GAP finds a permutation representation by acting on a set of vectors. There is no optimal heuristics for choosing these vectors (a necessary condition for faithfulness is that the vectors comprise a basis, but there are many choices). Note that
IsomorphismPermGroup
for matrix groups internally already uses ‘SmallerDegreePermutationRepresentation’ (unless the matrix group is known to contain SL), thus this operation cannot be used to reduce the degree further. If the group is very large, it can be rather beneficial to try to choose such a set of vectors yourself and useActionHomomorphism
(see the section ‘The Permutation Image of an Action’ of the GAP reference manual) to build the permutation representation.
Computing with GAP
In addition to the list of frequently asked questions on computing with GAP given below,
 David Joyner is collecting a list of frequently asked questions about Constructions of various mathematical objects in GAP with fully worked out GAP code answering them. This collection is specially recommended for newcomers to the system .
 Alexander Hulpke has collected user questions (mostly from the GAP Forum) about mathematical applications of GAP together with the corresponding answers. See Some GAP Questions on his home page.
How do I perform binary operations on the elements of a group?
The group operation in GAP is always multiplication, written with *
. This works e.g. for groups of permutations, of matrices, and for abstract groups given by generators and relations.
While you can construct a number of groups of permutations, they all have the same multiplication, in the sense that if two permutations p1
and p2
are both in two permutation groups, their product in each group will be the permutation p1*p2
given by applying p1
followed by p2
.
In fact, this essentially works the other way round. GAP first defines elements, such as permutations, matrices or words in abstract generators, with their operations such as multiplication and inverse, then it allows you to define groups of such objects, using the objects multiplication as the group operation.
All the many algorithms, implemented in GAP for the investigation of the structure of a group, are written using this symbol *
for the group multiplication.
How do I represent my group in GAP?
If you can write down permutations or matrix generators, you can use them directly. (Note, however, that GAP will internally compute a faithful permutation representation to work with matrix groups anyhow. However, see below for an example that you should be aware of this, because it can be dangerous.)
A group given by a finite presentation can be input as a quotient of a free group. If larger calculations are to be done, it is worthwhile (if it is possible) to either convert it to a PC group (using for example SolvableQuotient
– Note, that even if the presentation is polycyclic, GAP will not use methods for polycyclic groups, unless the group is also represented as a PC group) or to a permutation group.
For groups given by structural information, the construction can be much harder. There are a few general product constructions (direct and semidirect product for example). This tutorial by Alexander Hulpke gives some examples of constructing groups.
Here then is the example to which the first paragraph referred:
A user had sent the following program run, asking for help:
gap> g := GL(3,27);
GL(3,27)
gap> h := SylowSubgroup(g,2);
<group of 3x3 matrices in characteristic 3>
gap> Size(h);
32
gap> n := Normalizer(g,h);
<group of 3x3 matrices in characteristic 3>
gap> Size(n);
5408
gap> l := List(Irr(n), i> i[1]);;
exceeded the permitted memory
...
brk> quit;
Frank Lübeck explained what happened: First you can get the number characters of given degree much easier, using that the group n
is solvable, its order being divisible by only two primes.
gap> IsSolvable(n);
true
gap> CharacterDegrees(n);
[ [ 1, 1352 ], [ 2, 1014 ] ]
gap> h1 := IsomorphismPermGroup(n);
<action isomorphism>
gap> NrMovedPoints(Image(h1));
19682
So the user was asking to compute the 2366 irreducible characters of a permutation group of order 5408 of degree 19682 and this would have had to be done by the Dixon/Schneider method using the 2366 conjugacy classes of that group! In such a case one can either try to find a much smaller permutation representation of that group or work with a pc group presentation:
gap> h2 := SmallerDegreePermutationRepresentation(Image(h1));;
gap> NrMovedPoints(Image(h2));
130
gap> Size(Image(h2));
5408
gap> hpc := IsomorphismPcGroup(n);;
gap> Image(hpc);
Group([ f6, f4*f5*f6, f4, f7, f3, f2^7*f3*f7, f1^7*f4*f5*f6 ])
gap> Size(last);
5408
Results of computations in these image groups can then be translated back into the group n
, using the function PreImage
.
Does GAP support additive groups?
The answer is a clear ‘no and yes’! To understand this ‘clear answer’ let us consider the integers mod 15. (See sectionResidue Class Rings in the chapter onintegers.) First of all you can simply add and multiply integers mod 15 by
gap> (17 + 18) mod 15;
5
gap> (17 * 18) mod 15;
6
You can also form the ring of integers mod 15 by
gap> z15 := ZmodnZ(15);
(Integers mod 15)
and GAP tells you:
gap> IsRing(z15);
true
In fact you can work with its elements:
gap> a := ZmodnZObj(17,15);
ZmodnZObj( 2, 15 )
gap> b := ZmodnZObj(18,15);
ZmodnZObj( 3, 15 )
gap> a+b;
ZmodnZObj( 5, 15 )
gap> a*b;
ZmodnZObj( 6, 15 )
GAP also tells you
gap> IsAdditiveGroup(z15);
true
But:
gap> IsGroup(z15);
false
The explanation is that in GAP an additive group A (of a ring) is just anadditive magma withzero with an operation that maps each element a of A to its additive inverse and that most of the algorithms for groups are not available for these. So you get:
gap> Size(z15);
15
gap> SylowSubgroup(z15,3);
Error, no method found!
On the other hand, using that the additive group of the integers mod 15 is cyclic you can deal with this group in the usual way:
gap> c15 := CyclicGroup(15);
<pc group of size 15 with 2 generators>
gap> Size(c15);
15
gap> s := SylowSubgroup(c15,3);
Group([ f1*f2^3 ])
gap> Size(s);
3
In many algebra books the quaternion group is a group on 8 distinct symbols {i,j,k,1,1,i,j,k}. How can I make GAP use these elements?
GAP’s group constructors will generally, and by default, construct a group of the specified isomorphism type, in whatever form is most efficient for computation. No specific nomenclature for the elements if guaranteed.
So
gap> q8 := SmallGroup(8,4);
<pc group of size 8 with 3 generators>
gap> Elements(q8);
[ <identity> of ..., f1, f2, f3, f1*f2, f1*f3, f2*f3, f1*f2*f3 ]
gap>
is a perfectly good description of a group of order 8 isomorphic to the group generated by the quaternions i and j.
We can actually see that by making the group of quaternions:
gap> q := QuaternionAlgebra(Rationals);
<algebrawithone of dimension 4 over Rationals>
gap> gens := GeneratorsOfAlgebraWithOne(q);
[ e, i, j, k ]
gap> e := gens[1]; i := gens[2]; j := gens[3]; k := gens[4];
e
i
j
k
gap> g := Group(i,j);
#I default `IsGeneratorsOfMagmaWithInverses` method returns `true` for
[ i, j ]
<group with 2 generators>
gap> Elements(g);
[ (1)*e, (1)*i, (1)*j, (1)*k, k, j, i, e ]
gap> IsomorphismGroups(q8,g);
[ f1, f2, f3 ] > [ j, i, (1)*e ]
Here we construct the group Q_{8} that you were expecting, list its elements and, in the last line, demonstrate an isomorphism between the library group SmallGroup(8,4) and the group of quaternions.
Using this group g, we can, for instance print the normal subgroups
gap> Print(NormalSubgroups(g),"\n");;
[ Group( [ i, j ] ), Group( [ (1)*k, (1)*e ]), Group( [ (1)*j, (1)*e ] ),
Group( [ i, (1)*e ] ), Group( [(1)*e ] ), Group( e ) ]
Each subgroup is still given only in terms of generating elements because as soon as your groups get much larger you almost never actually want the complete list of elements. If you want them in this case, you can do
gap> for n in NormalSubgroups(g) do Print(Elements(n),"\n"); od;
[ (1)*e, (1)*i, (1)*j, (1)*k, k, j, i, e ]
[ (1)*e, (1)*k, k, e ]
[ (1)*e, (1)*j, j, e ]
[ (1)*e, (1)*i, i, e ]
[ (1)*e, e ]
[ e ]
gap>
In general, if you want to see the elements of your group in some particular notation, you need to construct the group from elements of that kind. Then, if you ask for the Elements of a subgroup or coset, you will get what you want. For instance, when you say you want the generating elements for a particular subgroup of Q_{8}, in what form do you want them? The standard representation (because it’s the best for computing), is as words in what are called polycylic generators. If you would prefer permutations, you can specify this when constructing the group.
I have a finite presentation for a finite polycyclic group. When I tried to use PcGroupFpGroup()
to convert it to a pcgroup, I received an error message.
PcGroupFpGroup()
is mainly a conversion routine. The given finite presentation must be a polycyclic presentation for PcGroupFpGroup()
to work. PcGroupFpGroup()
does not compute a polycyclic presentation for a finite soluble group given by an arbitrary finite presentation. SeeConstructing Pc Groups.
In apolycyclic presentation the generators must occur in the particular order of a ‘polycyclic generating sequence’:
As described in the Reference Manual chapterPolycyclic Groups a group G is polycyclic if there exists a subnormal series G = C_{1}> C_{2}> … > C_{n}> C_{n+1} = {1} with cyclic factors, and a polycyclic generating sequence of G is a sequence P : = (g_{1},…, g_{n}) of elements of G such that C_{i} = <C_{i+1}, g_{i}> for 1 ≤ i ≤ n.
Now for the given presentation the order of the generators is defined by the order in which the generators occur in the FreeGroup()
command. This is important because it fixes the way in which commutator or conjugate relations have to be defined.
Relations have to be of the form
g^m / w Comm( h,g ) / w h^g / w
where
m
is a positive integer,h
andg
are generators,h
occurs afterg
andw
is a word in generators coming afterg
.
Note that you may have to use brackets around w
if it is a product of several generators because GAP evaluates the expressions above from left to right.
Changing the order of the generators or interchanging g
and h
in the left hand side of a commutator or conjugate relation can produce an error message as shown by the following three examples of presentations for the symmetric group S_{3}.
Example 1
gap> f := FreeGroup(IsSyllableWordsFamily, "a","b");
<free group on the generators [ a, b ]>
gap> a := f.1;; b := f.2;;
gap> rels := [a^2,b^3,b^a/b^2];
[ a^2, b^3, a^1*b*a*b^2 ]
gap> g:=f/rels;
<fp group on the generators [ a, b ]>
gap> Size(g);
6
gap> gpol := PcGroupFpGroup(g);
<pc group of size 6 with 2 generators>
Here we had started from a presentation that obeys the rules for a polycyclic presentation.
Example 2
gap> f := FreeGroup(IsSyllableWordsFamily, "b","a");
<free group on the generators [ b, a ]>
gap> b := f.1;; a := f.2;;
gap> rels := [a^2,b^3,b^a/b^2];
[ a^2, b^3, a^1*b*a*b^2 ]
gap> g:=f/rels;
<fp group on the generators [ b, a ]>
gap> Size(g);
6
gap> gpol := PcGroupFpGroup(g);
Error, illegal relator a^1*b*a*b^2 called from
...
brk>
Here we have just interchanged the sequence of the generators, thus breaking the rules, so that PcGroupFpGroup()
does not work.
Example 3
gap> f := FreeGroup(IsSyllableWordsFamily, "a","b");
<free group on the generators [ a, b ]>
gap> a := f.1;; b := f.2;;
gap> rels := [a^2,b^3,a^b/(b*a)];
[ a^2, b^3, b^1*a*b*a^1*b^1 ]
gap> g:=f/rels;
<fp group on the generators [ a, b ]>
gap> Size(g);
6
gap> gpol := PcGroupFpGroup(g);
Error, relator b^1*a*b*a^1*b^1 is not trivial called from
...
brk>
Here the sequence of generators is correct, but the relator is not in the prescribed form.
Some remarks
 If we want to get a pc group from a finitely presented group, the presentation of which is not in the prescribed form, we can use the composite function
Image(IsomorphismPcGroup(g))
. Note, however, that this function does not work for finitely presented groupsg
, so that one first has e.g. to find a faithful permutation representation. In Example 3 this has implicitly already been done by calling the functionSize(g)
. So we can continue Example 3:gap> phi:=IsomorphismPcGroup(g); [ a, b ] > [ f1, f2^2 ] gap> h := Image(phi); Group([ f1, f2^2 ]) gap> IsPcGroup(h); true gap> Size(h); 6
 For many algorithms working with pc groups it is additionally necessary that the above mentioned cyclic factors of the subnormal series are in fact of prime order. The function
IsomorphismRefinedPcGroup(G)
returns an isomorphism from G onto an isomorphic pc group with that property.  At present in order to print out a pc presentation you can best use a function from the package ‘Polycyclic’, as we demonstrate, again continuing the last example:
gap> LoadPackage("polycyclic"); true gap> DisplayPcpGroup( PcGroupToPcpGroup(h) ); < g1 g2  g1^2 = id g2^3 = id g2^g1 = g2^2
How do I get the elements of my group?
There are functions AsList
and AsSSortedList
that return a (sorted) list of all the group elements. However for bigger groups such lists can take an enormous amount of memory. You might be better off just looking at the ConjugacyClasses
.
How do I get the subgroups of my group?
Everything said for elements holds even more so for subgroups: You probably want only representatives of the conjugacy classes or even just of subgroups of a given size.
For groups of moderate size (up to 10^{4}/10^{5}, this depends a bit on the group structure) the commandsLatticeSubgroups
orConjugacyClassesSubgroups
will compute representatives of all subgroups up to conjugacy. If the group gets bigger, however, this will either run out of space or take too long to be feasible.
In this case it is likely that you are only interested in certain types of subgroups. Try to use the restricting conditions to reduce the calculation (for example psubgroups can be found inside a Sylow subgroup). GAP commands that might come useful to obtain specific subgroups are for exampleNormalSubgroups
,SylowSubgroup
,HallSubgroup
, orMaximalSubgroupClassReps
.
Furthermore, if you actually want to know if the group has a subgroup of a particular isomorphism type, the command you want isIsomorphicSubgroups
. This is enormously more efficient than simply listing all [conjugacy classes of] subgroups of the group in most cases.
It might also be helpful to first replace the group by an isomorphic permutation group (usingIsomorphismPermGroup
) or pc group (usingIsomorphismPcGroup
).
Is GAP suited for studying combinatorial structures and finite permutation groups?
GAP is suited very well for computing in combinatorial structures and permutation groups. A small but nevertheless illustrative example given by Stefan Kohl in an answer to a letter to ‘gapsupport’ is the investigation of the automorphism group of a graph whose vertices are the cards of a card game called Duo with edges between any two cards that ‘fit together’.
The game “Duo” consists of 4^3 = 64 “normal” cards each showing a triple (colour, shape, number), where there are four possible colours, shapes and numbers (any possible combination occurs exactly once) and 3*4 = 12 jokers each showing either a colour, a shape or a number. Two “normal” cards fit together if and only if they coincide in two of their symbols. E.g. (red, square, 1) and (green, square, 1) fit together, but (red, square, 1) and (red, triangle, 3) do not. A joker fits together with a “normal” card if one of the three symbols of the latter is the joker’s, e.g. the (blue) joker fits together with (blue, triangle, 4). Two jokers never fit together.
Although this may look a bit complicate, formulating it in the GAP language is quite easy. For constructing the graph we use the GAP package GRAPE by Leonard Soicher:
gap> LoadPackage("grape"); # Construct the Duo graph with 4^3 + 12 = 76 vertices:
gap> vertices := Concatenation(List(Tuples([0..3],3),t>t+[0,4,8]),
> List([0..11],i>[i]));
gap> TrivialAction := function ( x, g ) return x; end;;
gap> Relation := function ( x, y )
> return Length(Intersection(x,y)) = 2
> or (Length(x) = 1 or Length(y) = 1)
> and Length(Intersection(x,y)) = 1 and x <> y;
> end;;
gap> Gamma := Graph(Group(()),vertices,TrivialAction,Relation,true);;
We compute the automorphism group, again using GRAPE:
gap> G := AutGroupGraph(Gamma);
<permutation group with 9 generators>
gap> time; # time in ms
20
gap> DegreeAction(G); # Check: we really have 4^3 + 3*4 = 76 vertices.
76
The automorphism group acts transitively both on the “normal” cards and on the jokers, but a “normal” card cannot be mapped onto a joker or vice versa:
gap> orb := Orbits(G,[1..76]); # Compute the orbits on the set of vertices.
[ [ 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 9, 17, 6, 13, 33, 10, 18, 7, 49, 14, 34, 11, 19, 21, 8,
50, 15, 35, 37, 12, 20, 25, 22, 51, 53, 16, 36, 41, 38, 29, 26, 23, 52,
57, 54, 45, 42, 39, 30, 27, 24, 61, 58, 55, 46, 43, 40, 31, 28, 62, 59,
56, 47, 44, 32, 63, 60, 48, 64 ],
[ 65, 69, 73, 74, 75, 70, 76, 71, 66, 72, 67, 68 ] ]
gap> List(orb,Length);
[ 64, 12 ]
The action of the automorphism group on the “normal” cards is primitive, but the one on the jokers is not:
gap> G1 := Action(G,orb[1]); # The action of G on the first orbit.
<permutation group with 9 generators>
gap> G2 := Action(G,orb[2]); # The action of G on the second orbit.
<permutation group with 9 generators>
gap> IsPrimitive(G1,MovedPoints(G1));
true
gap> IsPrimitive(G2,MovedPoints(G2));
false
Both actions are faithful:
gap> Size(G);
82944
gap> List([G1,G2],Size);
[ 82944, 82944 ]
The automorphism group is solvable, but not nilpotent:
gap> Factors(Size(G));
[ 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3 ]
gap> IsSolvable(G);
true # Obvious (by Burnside's Theorem).
gap> IsNilpotent(G);
false
gap> List(LowerCentralSeries(G),Size);
[ 82944, 20736 ]
gap> List(DerivedSeries(G),Size);
[ 82944, 20736, 6912, 1728, 64, 1 ]
The action of the automorphism group on the jokers is the imprimitive action of the wreath product of the symmetric group of degree 4 and the symmetric group of degree 3 on 3*4 = 12 points, and the action of the automorphism group on the “normal” cards is the primitive action of this wreath product on 4^3 = 64 points:
gap> GeneratorsOfGroup(G2);
[ (1,2)(6,9)(8,11)(10,12), (2,3)(4,6)(5,8)(7,10), (3,4), (4,5), (5,7), (6,8),
(8,10), (9,11), (11,12) ]
gap> H := TransitiveGroup(12,TransitiveIdentification(G2));
# Group structure in humanreadable form
[S(4)3]S(3)=S(4)wrS(3)
gap> Size(H); # A check.
82944
gap> 6*24^3; # dito.
82944
gap> W := WreathProduct(Group((1,2),(1,2,3,4)),Group((1,2),(1,2,3)));
<permutation group of size 82944 with 8 generators>
gap> phi := IsomorphismGroups(G,W); # A concrete isomorphism.
[ (1,21,6,26,11,19)(2,25,7,18,9,23)(3,17,5,22,10,27)(4,29,8,30,12,31)(13,24,
14,28,15,20)(16,32)(33,53,38,58,43,51)(34,57,39,50,41,55)(35,49,37,54,42,
59)(36,61,40,62,44,63)(45,56,46,60,47,52)(48,64)(65,66)(67,68)(69,73,70,
74,71,75)(72,76), (1,46,7,29,35,22)(2,14,15,31,19,18)(3,30)(4,62,11,32,51,
26)(5,45,39,21,33,38)(6,13,47,23,17,34)(8,61,43,24,49,42)(9,48,55,25,36,
54)(10,16,63,27,20,50)(12,64,59,28,52,58)(40,53,41)(44,56,57)(65,72,75,66,
69,74)(67,70,73)(68,71,76) ] > [ (1,2)(3,4)(5,9,8,10,7,12)(6,11),
(1,9,5)(2,10,6)(3,11,7,4,12,8) ]
How can one compute the Schur Multiplier of a finite group by GAP?
Derek Holt answered:
One possibility is to use the package cohomolo. You first have to follow the instructions in the package directory to compile the external programs.
It calculates the Schur multiplier with respect to a given prime, so you need to try all primes dividing the group order. The input group must be a permutation group (the degree of which is presently restricted to at most 4096). Here is an example.
gap> G:=PSL(3,4);;
gap> chr := CHR(G,2);;
# This constructs a 'cohomologyrecord' that is used in all further functions
gap> SchurMultiplier(chr);
[ 4, 4 ]
gap> chr := CHR(G,3);;
gap> SchurMultiplier(chr);
[ 3 ]
gap> chr := CHR(G,5);;
gap> SchurMultiplier(chr);
#The Sylow psubgroup of the group is cyclic  so the multiplier is trivial.
[ ]
gap> chr := CHR(G,7);;
gap> SchurMultiplier(chr);
#The Sylow psubgroup of the group is cyclic  so the multiplier is trivial.
[ ]
We conclude that the Schur multiplier is a direct product of cyclic groups of order 4, 4 and 3.
It is also possible to compute finite presentations of covering groups.
Derek Holt gave the warning: “But this package involves external C programs, and it is only possible to use it under Unix or Linux.”
However in a further letter Dima Pasechnik added:
In Fact “cohomolo” also runs seemingly OK on Windows with Cygwin (https://www.cygwin.com). Note however that there are a couple of very minor changes in the installation procedure of the package.
Finally Alexander Hulpke added:
Let me just add to Derek Holt’s response, that GAP also has a builtin routine for multiplier calculation. The commands are
AbelianInvariantsMultiplier
(structure of the multiplier) andEpimorphismSchurCover
(map from a covering group, represented as finitely presented group, onto original group)
gap> AbelianInvariantsMultiplier(SymmetricGroup(6));
[ 2 ]
gap> EpimorphismSchurCover(SymmetricGroup(6));
[ f1, f2, f3, f4, f5 ] > [(1,2), (2,3), (3,4), (4,5), (5,6)]
The algorithms used are similar to the ones used by the cohomolo
package, the main advantage of the library implementation is that it does not require an external program and thus can also run under Windows or if the cohomolo
package is not installed.
Comparison of runtimes of the two implementations shows that for ‘small’ groups (say up to order 20000) there is no significant difference, while for large groups the implementation in the cohomolo package runs faster (e.g. in an experiment by Derek Holt for PSp(6,3) of order 4585351680 the corresponding times were 6 and 80 seconds respectively).
How can one use GAP to check that given presentation is a nilpotent group of class 2 or not?
Is it possible using GAP to check that a given presentation defines a nilpotent group of class 2 or not?
For example $G= \langle a,b,c \mid a^{p^5}, b^{p^3}, c^{p^2},[a,b]=a^{p^3}, [a,c]=c^p, [b,c]=b^{p^2} \rangle $ where $p$ is a prime.
Also how can we determine its automorphism group using GAP?
Answer:
The question was asked in this form in a GAP Forum letter on Jan. 27, 2010 and was answered in the Forum by three letters on Jan. 28. The answer given here joins the contents of these.
First please note that the ‘example’ really is not a presentation of a single group, but a family of presentations parametrized by the primes p. GAP has no methods for handling such a family of presentations in one step. However GAP has methods to investigate each such presentation for any given (not too big) prime $p$. In her reply Bettina Eick recommends:
you can use GAP to investigate your question for any fixed prime p.
For example, the nilpotent quotient algorithm of the NQ package or the NQL package of GAP allows you to determine the largest classc quotient of a finitely presented group for any positive integer c or even the largest nilpotent quotient (if this exists).
Further, there are methods available in GAP to determine the automorphism group of a finite $p$group. Check the AutPGrp package for this purpose.
In your given example, you can implement your considered group $G$ in GAP as function in $p$:
G := function(p) local F, f, r, a, b, c; F := FreeGroup(3); f := GeneratorsOfGroup(F); a := f[1]; b := f[2]; c := f[3]; r := [a^(p^5), b^(p^3), c^(p^2), Comm(a,b)/a^(p^3), Comm(a,c)/c^p, Comm(b,c)/b^(p^2) ]; return F/r; end;
Then you load the relevant packages
LoadPackage("nq"); LoadPackage("autpgrp");
And then you can do the following (for example for $p=3$):
gap> H := G(3); [fp group on the generators [ f1, f2, f3 ]] gap> K := NilpotentQuotient(H); Pcpgroup with orders [ 27, 9, 3, 9, 3, 3 ] gap> Length(LowerCentralSeries(K)); 3 gap> A := AutomorphismGroupPGroup(K);; gap> A.size; 14348907
Hence for $p=3$ your group has class $2$ and you can see the size of its automorphism group. Generators and further information on the automorphisms is also stored in A, but is perhaps too long to be displayed here.
In a second letter Derek Holt recommends:
You can use the GAP package KBMAG to prove nilpotency of finitely presented groups, using the method described by Charles Sims in his book of computing in finitely presented groups. This uses the KnuthBendix completion algorithm.
This process is described and illustrated in Example 4 (p. 13) of the KBMAG manual. I have successfully verifed that your group below is nilpotent of order $p^{10}$ for $p=2,3,5,7,11,13,17,$ and I am trying to do $19$.
Of course, since these groups are (apparently) finite, you could try use coset enumeration. This will work for small primes such as $2$ and $3$, but for larger primes the group order will probably be too large, and I think the Sims algorithm will work better.
You first run
NilpotentQuotient
(as described in Bettina Eick’s reply) to find the maximal nilpotent quotient of your group. The aim is then to prove that the group is actually isomorphic to this quotient. You do this by introducing new generators in the presentation which correspond to the powercommutator generators in the maximal nilpotent quotient. You order the generators so that those at the bottom of the group come first and then use the socalled recursive ordering on strings to run KnuthBendix.Here is the basic GAP code to do this.
LoadPackage("kbmag"); SetInfoLevel(InfoRWS,2); F:=FreeGroup("j","i","h","g","f","e","d","c","b","a");; j:=F.1;; i:=F.2;; h:=F.3;; g:=F.4;; f:=F.5;; e:=F.6;; d:=F.7;; c:=F.8;; b:=F.9;; a:=F.10;; p:=3;; rels := [a^p/e, b^p/f, c^p/d, e^p/g, f^p/h, g^p/i, i^p/j, j^p, h^p, d^p, Comm(a,b)/i, Comm(a,c)/d, Comm(b,c)/h ];; G := F/rels;; R := KBMAGRewritingSystem(G);; SetOrderingOfKBMAGRewritingSystem(R, "recursive"); MakeConfluent(R);
If successful it will halt with a confluent presentation containing the relations of the powercommutator presentation of the computed maximal nilpotent quotient. You have then proved that these relations hold in the group itself (not just in the nilptent quotient), so you have proved that the group is nilpotent. This consists of 65 reduction equations (or $62$ when $p=2$).
The above works quickly for $p=2,3,5,7$. For larger primes, it helps to restrict the length of the stored reduction relations, and then rerun after completion. You have to experiment to find the optimal maximal length to store. So, for example, the following works fast for $p=17$:
p:=17;; rels := [a^p/e, b^p/f, c^p/d, e^p/g, f^p/h, g^p/i, i^p/j, j^p, h^p, d^p, Comm(a,b)/i, Comm(a,c)/d, Comm(b,c)/h ];; G := F/rels;; R := KBMAGRewritingSystem(G);; SetOrderingOfKBMAGRewritingSystem(R, "recursive"); O := OptionsRecordOfKBMAGRewritingSystem(R); O.maxstoredlen := [40,40]; MakeConfluent(R); Unbind(O.maxstoredlen); MakeConfluent(R);
In a final letter Charles Wright gave an elegant proof ‘by hand’ that in fact all the groups for arbitrary primes are of nilpotency class $2$ and order at most $p^10$, a proof, the clues for which can perhaps be obtained from the results of the GAP computations (which of course can be applied in similar form also to other presentations). He writes:
If all you want to show is that this particular example is class $2$ of order (at most) $p^{10}$, though, it's easy to do it by hand. We're given that $a^b = a^{1+p^3}$,$ c^a = c^{1p}$ and $b^c = b^{1+p^2}$. Hence, $(a^{p^3})^b = (a^b)^{p^3} = a^{(1+p^3)p^3} = a^{p^3}$ and $c^{a^{p^3}} = c^{(1p)^{p^3}} = c$ [what a mess of superscripts!], so $a^{p^3}$ (i.e., $[a,b]$) is in $Z(G)$. Similarly, $a^{b^{p^2}} = a^{(1+p^3)^{p^2}} = a$ and $(b^{p^2})^c = (b^c)^{p^2} = b^{(1+p^2)p^2} = b^{p^2}$, so $b^{p^2}$ (i.e., $[b,c]$) is central. Finally, $(c^p)^a = c^{(1p)p} = c^p$ and $b^{c^p} = b^{(1+p^2)^p} = b$, so $c^p$ (i.e., $[a,c]$) is central. Thus $G/Z(G)$ is abelian. Since $G'$ has order (at most) $p^4$ and $G/G'$ has order (at most) $p^6$, $G$ has order (at most) $p^{10}$. In the spirit of Burnside, I'll leave the elimination of "(at most)" to the reader.
How do I use GAP to “identify” a given group?
One of the most frequent requests that comes up is for to “identify” a given group. While some functionality for this exists, the problem is basically what “identify” means, or what a user expects from identification:
 For tiny orders (say up to 15), there are few groups up to isomorphism, and each of the groups has a “natural” name. Furthermore many these names belong into series (symmetric groups, dihedral groups, cyclic groups) and the remaining groups are in obvious ways (direct product or possibly semidirect product) composed from groups named this way.
 This clean situation breaks down quickly once the order increases: for example there are
 up to isomorphism  14 groups of order 16, 231 of order 96 and over 10 million of order 512. This rapid growth goes beyond any general “naming” or “composition” scheme.
 A decomposition as semidirect, subdirect or central product is not uniquely defined without some further information, which can be rather extensive to write down.
 Even if one might hope that a particular group would be composable in a nice way, this does not lead to an “obvious” description, for example the same group of order 16 could be described for example as a semidirekt product of $D_8$ with a cyclic group of order 2 (i.e. $D_8:C_2$), or as semidirect product of $Q_8$ with a cyclic group of order 2 ($Q_8:C_2$), or as ($C_2 \times C_4):C_2$ (and  vice versa  the last name could be given to 4 nonisomorphic groups). In the context of matrix groups in characteristic 2, $S_3$ is better called $SL_2(2)$, and so on.
 There are libraries of different classes of groups (e.g. small order up to isomorphism, or transitive subgroup of $S_n$ (for small n) up to conjugacy); these libraries typically allow to identify a given group, but the identification is just like the library call number of a book and gives little information about the group, it is mainly of use to allow recreation of the group with the identification number given as only information.
With these caveats, the following functions exist to identify groups and give them a name:
StructureDescription
returns a string describing the isomorphism type of a group . This string is produced recursively, trying to decompose groups as direct or semidirect products. The resulting string does not identify isomorphism types, nor is it necessarily the most “natural” description of a group.
gap> g:=Group((1,2,3),(2,3,4));;
gap> StructureDescription(g);
"A4"
Group Libraries
contains extensive libraries of “small” groups and many of these libraries allow identificatuion of a group therein. The associated library group then often comes with a name that might be appropriate.
Small Groups
The small groups library contains  amongst others  all groups of order up to 1000, except 512. For such a group IdGroup
returns a list such that the group is isomorphic to SmallGroup()
.
gap> g:=Group((1,2,3),(2,3,4));;
gap> IdGroup(g);
[ 12, 3 ]
gap> SmallGroup(12,3);
<pc group of size 12 with 3 generators>
Transitive Groups
The transitive groups library contains transitive subgroups of $S_n$ of degree at most 31 up to $S_n$ conjugacy. For such a group of degree n, TransitiveIdentification
returns a number , such that the group is conjugate in $S_n$ to TransitiveGroup()
.
gap> g:=Group((1,2,3),(2,3,4));;
gap> TransitiveIdentification(g);
4
gap> TransitiveGroup(NrMovedPoints(g),4);
A4
Primitive Groups
The primitive groups library contains primitive subgroups of $S_n$ (i.e. the group is transitive and affords no nontrivial Ginvariant partition of the points) of degree at most 1000 up to $S_n$ conjugacy. For such a group of degree n, PrimitiveIdentification
returns a number , such that the group is conjugate in $S_n$ to PrimitiveGroup()
.
gap> g:=Group((1,2,3),(2,3,4));;
gap> IsPrimitive(g,[1..4]);
true
gap> PrimitiveIdentification(g);
1
gap> PrimitiveGroup(NrMovedPoints(g),1);
A(4)
Simple groups and Composition Series
The one class of groups for which it is unambiguous, and comparatively easy to assign names to is finite simple groups (assuming the classification of finite simple groups). A consequence of the classification is that the order of a simple group determines its isomorphism type, with the exception of two infinite series (which can be distinguished easily otherwise).
In GAP, this is achieved by the command IsomorphismTypeInfoFiniteSimpleGroup
: For a finite simple group, it returns a record, containing information about the groups structure, as well as some name.
gap> g:=SL(3,5);
SL(3,5)
gap> IsomorphismTypeInfoFiniteSimpleGroup(g/Centre(g));
rec( name := "A(2,5) = L(3,5) ", series := "L", parameter := [ 3, 5 ] )
Clearly, this can be applied to the composition series of a finite group, identifying the isomorphism types of all composition factors. (Of course, this information does not identify the isomorphism type of the group, and  in particular for solvable groups  can be rather uninformative.) The command DisplayCompositionSeries
will print information about the composition factors of a finite group.
gap> DisplayCompositionSeries(SymmetricGroup(4));
G (4 gens, size 24)
 Z(2)
S (3 gens, size 12)
 Z(3)
S (2 gens, size 4)
 Z(2)
S (1 gens, size 2)
 Z(2)
1 (0 gens, size 1)
gap> DisplayCompositionSeries(SymmetricGroup(5));
G (2 gens, size 120)
 Z(2)
S (3 gens, size 60)
 A(5) ~ A(1,4) = L(2,4) ~ B(1,4) = O(3,4) ~ C(1,4) = S(2,4) ~ 2A(1,4)
= U(2,4) ~ A(1,5) = L(2,5) ~ B(1,5) = O(3,5) ~ C(1,5)
= S(2,5) ~ 2A(1,5) = U(2,5)
1 (0 gens, size 1)
gap> DisplayCompositionSeries(GU(6,2));
G (size 82771476480)
 Z(3)
S (4 gens, size 27590492160)
 2A(5,2) = U(6,2)
S (1 gens, size 3)
 Z(3)
1 (size 1)
Can nonisomorphic groups have equal structure descriptions?
Yes, indeed, this can happen.The manual entry for “StructureDescription” says: “The string returned by StructureDescription is NOT an isomorphism invariant: nonisomorphic groups can have the same string value, and two isomorphic groups in different representations can produce different strings.”StructureDescription provides an “informal” overview of the structure of a group, which is a useful first view for small groups. More sophisticated functions in the same area include:IdGroup; the StandardPresentation
function of the ANUPQ package andIsomorphismGroups, each of which is described in the appropriate manual.
Programming GAP
Can I call GAP functions from another programme?
What you can do is to run GAP in a child process and communicate with it using pipes, pseudottys, UNIX FIFOs or some similar device. We have done this successfully in a number of projects, and you can contact the support list for more detailed advice if you want to go down this route.
One can also embed the entire GAP system as a C library, though one can’t embed individual functions by themselves, and the first call to this library still has to invoke the full GAP startup sequence.
Alternatively, there are a number of ways of running GAP as a server process and calling it from C of C++ programs. See the SCSCP package for the GAP side. There are several C and C++ libraries that implement the client side.
Where is the GAP file editor? How do I save GAP programs?
GAP programs are simple text files, and you can edit them with any text editor. Some editors may support GAP syntax highlighting and have other useful features:
 BBEdit for macOS, using this syntax highlighting module by Max Horn. To install it for BBEdit, download the file GAPLanguageModule.plist and place it in the directory
~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Language Modules
. You may have to create this directory if it does not exist. Then restart BBEdit for it to become available. 
emacs, with the majormode for editing GAP files by Ivan Andrus.

jEdit (exact configuration to be documented soon)

Kate (outofbox)

Notepad++ for Windows, using syntax highlighting module by Max Horn). To install, download the gap.xml, then select “Define your language…” from the “Language” menu in Notepad++. In the resulting dialog, click the “Import…” button. This opens a file selector dialog, with which you should point to the gap.xml file. After that close the “User Defined Language” dialog.

PsPAD for Windows (outofbox; see also the alternative GAP.INI file by Olexandr Konovalov)

Smultron for macOS, using syntax highlighting module by Olexandr Konovalov)

vim (seeEditor Support and the ‘etc’ directory of the GAP installation)
 Visual Studio Code for Linux, Windows, macOS, using the GAP syntax highlighting extension by Chris Jefferson)
You can call GAP files anything you like, although we generally use names ending .g
, .gap
, .gd
or .gi
. It may help Windows users to give them names ending .txt
. Once you have written your program, you can execute it using the Read()
command in GAP. Note that within GAP the path separator character is always ‘/’, so you might say:
gap> Read("d:/gapfiles/program.g");
to read a file that Windows would call D:\gapfiles\program.g
.