“Up to isomorphism” is a phrase that seems to get thrown around a lot without ever being explained. Simply put, we say two groups (or any other algebraic structures) are the same “up to isomorphism” if they’re isomorphic! In other words, they share the exact same structure and therefore they are essentially indistinguishable. Hence we consider them to be one and the same! But, you see, we mathematicians are very precise, and so we really don't like to use the word “same." Instead we prefer to say “same up to isomorphism.” Voila!
Welcome! Math3ma is a math blog maintained by Tai-Danae, a PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center.