Commutator relations and structure constants for rank 2 Kac–Moody algebras

Lisa Carbone, Matt Kownacki, Scott H. Murray, Sowmya Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We completely determine the structure constants between real root vectors in a rank 2 Kac–Moody algebra g. Our description is computationally efficient, even in the rank 2 hyperbolic case where the coefficients of roots on the root lattice grow exponentially with height. Our approach is to extend Carter's method of finding structure constants from those on extraspecial pairs to the rank 2 Kac–Moody case. We also determine all commutator relations involving only real root vectors in all rank 2 Kac-Moody algebras. The generalized Cartan matrix of g is of the form H(a,b)=(2−b−a2) where a,b∈Z and ab≥4. If ab=4, then g is of affine type. If ab>4, then g is of hyperbolic type. Explicit knowledge of the root strings is needed, as well as a characterization of the pairs of real roots whose sums are real. We prove that if a and b are both greater than one, then no sum of real roots can be a real root. We determine the root strings between real roots β,γ in H(a,1), a≥5 and we determine the sets (Z≥0α+Z≥0β)∩Δre(H(a,b)). One of our tools is a characterization of the root subsystems generated by a subset of roots. We classify these subsystems in rank 2 Kac–Moody root systems. We prove that every rank two infinite root system contains an infinite family of non-isomorphic symmetric rank 2 hyperbolic root subsystems H(k,k) for certain k≥3, generated by either two short or two long simple roots. We also prove that a non-symmetric hyperbolic root systems H(a,b) with a≠b and ab>5 also contains an infinite family of non-isomorphic non-symmetric rank 2 hyperbolic root subsystems H(aℓ,bℓ), for certain positive integers ℓ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-476
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Algebra
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory


  • Commutator relations
  • Kac-Moody algebra
  • Structure constants


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