# Is the Lorentz group $O(1,3)$ irreducible, i.e. simple?

Groups are not reducible or irreducible, representations are.

You are thinking of the notion of simplicity vs. semi-simplicity.

Let me discuss it at the level of Lie algebras so we don't have any global issues: the Lie algebra $$\mathfrak{so}(1,3)$$ is semisimple but it is not simple because, as you noted, it is the direct sum of two algebras $$\mathfrak{su}(2)\oplus \mathfrak{su}(2)$$.

A consequence of this is that the adjoint representation is reducible, indeed it is $$\mathbf{adj} = (1,0)\oplus(0,1)$$. In general $$\mbox{\mathfrak{g} is simple} \;\Longleftrightarrow\; \mbox{\mathbf{adj}(\mathfrak{g}) is irreducible}$$

Nevertheless, non-simple groups can and do have irreducible representations.

For what it's worth:

• The real Lorentz Lie algebra $$so(1,3;\mathbb{R})\cong sl(2,\mathbb{C})$$ is simple.

• Its complexification $$so(1,3;\mathbb{C})\cong sl(2,\mathbb{C}\oplus sl(2,\mathbb{C})$$ is semisimple but not simple.