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Concept# Abstract algebra

Summary

In mathematics, more specifically algebra, abstract algebra or modern algebra is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include groups, rings, fields, modules, vector spaces, lattices, and algebras over a field. The term abstract algebra was coined in the early 20th century to distinguish it from older parts of algebra, and more specifically from elementary algebra, the use of variables to represent numbers in computation and reasoning. Presently, the term "abstract algebra" is typically used for naming courses in mathematical education, and is rarely used in advanced mathematics.
Algebraic structures, with their associated homomorphisms, form . is a formalism that allows a unified way for expressing properties and constructions that are similar for various structures.
Universal algebra is a related subject that studies types of algebraic structures as single objects. For example, the structure of groups is a single object in universal algebra, which is called the variety of groups.
Before the nineteenth century, algebra was defined as the study of polynomials. Abstract algebra came into existence during the nineteenth century as more complex problems and solution methods developed. Concrete problems and examples came from number theory, geometry, analysis, and the solutions of algebraic equations. Most theories that are now recognized as parts of abstract algebra started as collections of disparate facts from various branches of mathematics, acquired a common theme that served as a core around which various results were grouped, and finally became unified on a basis of a common set of concepts. This unification occurred in the early decades of the 20th century and resulted in the formal axiomatic definitions of various algebraic structures such as groups, rings, and fields. This historical development is almost the opposite of the treatment found in popular textbooks, such as van der Waerden's Moderne Algebra, which start each chapter with a formal definition of a structure and then follow it with concrete examples.

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Variety (universal algebra)

In universal algebra, a variety of algebras or equational class is the class of all algebraic structures of a given signature satisfying a given set of identities. For example, the groups form a variety of algebras, as do the abelian groups, the rings, the monoids etc. According to Birkhoff's theorem, a class of algebraic structures of the same signature is a variety if and only if it is closed under the taking of homomorphic images, subalgebras, and (direct) products.

Algebraic structure

In mathematics, an algebraic structure consists of a nonempty set A (called the underlying set, carrier set or domain), a collection of operations on A (typically binary operations such as addition and multiplication), and a finite set of identities, known as axioms, that these operations must satisfy. An algebraic structure may be based on other algebraic structures with operations and axioms involving several structures.

Characteristic (algebra)

In mathematics, the characteristic of a ring R, often denoted char(R), is defined to be the smallest number of times one must use the ring's multiplicative identity (1) in a sum to get the additive identity (0). If this sum never reaches the additive identity the ring is said to have characteristic zero. That is, char(R) is the smallest positive number n such that: if such a number n exists, and 0 otherwise.

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