Group Homomorphism from $\Z/n\Z$ to $\Z/m\Z$ When $m$ Divides $n$

Group Theory Problems and Solutions

Problem 613

Let $m$ and $n$ be positive integers such that $m \mid n$.

(a) Prove that the map $\phi:\Zmod{n} \to \Zmod{m}$ sending $a+n\Z$ to $a+m\Z$ for any $a\in \Z$ is well-defined.

(b) Prove that $\phi$ is a group homomorphism.

(c) Prove that $\phi$ is surjective.

(d) Determine the group structure of the kernel of $\phi$.

 
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Proof.

(a) Prove that the map $\phi:\Zmod{n} \to \Zmod{m}$ sending $a+n\Z$ to $a+m\Z$ for any $a\in \Z$ is well-defined.

To show that $\phi$ is well-defined, we need show that the value of $\phi$ does not depends on the choice of representative $a$.
So suppose that $a+n\Z=a’+n\Z$ so that $a$ and $a’$ are two representatives for the same element.
This yields that $a-a’$ is divisible by $n$.

Now, $a+n\Z$ is mapped to $a+m\Z$ by $\phi$. On the other hand, $a’+n\Z$ is mapped to $a+m\Z$ by $\phi$.
Since $a-a’$ is divisible by $n$ and $m \mid n$, it follows that $a-a’$ is divisible by $m$.
This implies that $a+m\Z=a’+m\Z$.
This prove that $\phi$ does not depend on the choice of the representative, and hence $\phi$ is well-defined.

(b) Prove that $\phi$ is a group homomorphism.

Let $a+n\Z$, $b+n\Z$ be two elements in $\Zmod{n}$. Then we have
\begin{align*}
&\phi\left(\, (a+n\Z)+(b+n\Z) \,\right)\\
&=\phi\left(\, (a+b)+n\Z) \,\right) &&\text{by addition in $\Zmod{n}$}\\
&=(a+b)+m\Z &&\text{by definition of $\phi$}\\
&=(a+m\Z)+(b+m\Z)&&\text{by addition in $\Zmod{m}$}\\
&=\phi(a+n\Z)+\phi(b+n\Z) &&\text{by definition of $\phi$}.
\end{align*}

Hence $\phi$ is a group homomorphism.

(c) Prove that $\phi$ is surjective.

For any $c+m\Z \in \Zmod{m}$, we pick $c+n\Z\in \Zmod{n}$.
Then as $\phi(c+n\Z)=c+m\Z$, we see that $\phi$ is surjective.

(d) Determine the group structure of the kernel of $\phi$.

If $a+n\Z\in \ker(\phi)$, then we have $0+m\Z=\phi(a+n\Z)=a+m\Z$.
This implies that $m\mid a$.
On the other hand, if $m\mid a$, then $\phi(a+n\Z)=a+m\Z=0+m\Z$ and $a+n\Z\in \ker(\phi)$.

It follows that
\[\ker(\phi)=\{mk+n\Z \mid k=0, 1, \dots, l-1\},\] where $l$ is an integer such that $n=ml$.

Thus, $\ker(\phi)$ is a group of order $l$.
Since $\ker(\phi)$ is a subgroup of the cyclic group $\Zmod{n}$, we know that $\ker(\phi)$ is also cyclic.
Thus
\[\ker(\phi)\cong \Zmod{l}.\]

Another approach

Here is a more direct proof of this result.
Define a map $\psi:\Z\to \ker(\phi)$ by sending $k\in \Z$ to $mk+n\Z$.
It is straightforward to verify that $\psi$ is a surjective group homomorphism and the kernel of $\psi$ is $\ker(\psi)=l\Z$.
It follows from the first isomorphism theorem that
\[\Zmod{l}= \Z/\ker(\psi) \cong \im(\psi)=\ker(\phi). \]


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