Triality and algebraic groups of type

  • Max-Albert Knus

  • Jean-Pierre Tignol


We determine which simple algebraic groups of type over arbitrary fields of characteristic different from 2 admit outer automorphisms of order 3, and classify these automorphisms up to conjugation. The criterion is formulated in terms of a representation of the group by automorphisms of a trialitarian algebra: outer automorphisms of order 3 exist if and only if the algebra is the endomorphism algebra of an induced cyclic composition; their conjugacy classes are in one-to-one correspondence with isomorphism classes of symmetric compositions from which the induced cyclic composition stems.