If the Order of a Group is Even, then the Number of Elements of Order 2 is Odd

Group Theory Problems and Solutions in Mathematics

Problem 326

Prove that if $G$ is a finite group of even order, then the number of elements of $G$ of order $2$ is odd.

 
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Proof.

First observe that for $g\in G$,
\[g^2=e \iff g=g^{-1},\] where $e$ is the identity element of $G$.
Thus, the identity element $e$ and the elements of order $2$ are the only elements of $G$ that are equal to their own inverse elements.

Hence, each element $x$ of order greater than $2$ comes in pairs $\{x, x^{-1}\}$.
So we have
\begin{align*}
&G=\\
&\{e\}\cup \{\text{ elements of order $2$ } \} \cup \{x_1, x_1^{-1}, x_2, x_2^{-1}, \dots, x_k, x_k^{-1}\},
\end{align*}
where $x_i$ are elements of order greater than $2$ for $i=1,2, \dots, k$.

As we noted above, the elements $x_i, x_i^{-1}$ are distinct.
Thus the third set contains an even number of elements.

Therefore we have
\begin{align*}
&\underbrace{G}_{\text{even}}=\\
&\underbrace{\{e\}}_{\text{odd}}\cup \{\text{ elements of order $2$ } \}\cup \underbrace{\{x_1, x_1^{-1}, x_2, x_2^{-1}, \dots, x_k, x_k^{-1}\}}_\text{even}
\end{align*}
It follows that the number of elements of $G$ of order $2$ must be odd.

If the Order of a Group is Even, then it has a Non-Identity Element of Order 2

The consequence of the problem yields that the number of elements of order $2$ is odd, in particular, it is not zero.

Hence we obtain:

If the order of a group is even, then it has a non-identity element of order 2.

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