Summary
In mathematics, the tensor product of two vector spaces V and W (over the same field) is a vector space to which is associated a bilinear map that maps a pair to an element of denoted An element of the form is called the tensor product of v and w. An element of is a tensor, and the tensor product of two vectors is sometimes called an elementary tensor or a decomposable tensor. The elementary tensors span in the sense that every element of is a sum of elementary tensors. If bases are given for V and W, a basis of is formed by all tensor products of a basis element of V and a basis element of W. The tensor product of two vector spaces captures the properties of all bilinear maps in the sense that a bilinear map from into another vector space Z factors uniquely through a linear map (see Universal property). Tensor products are used in many application areas, including physics and engineering. For example, in general relativity, the gravitational field is described through the metric tensor, which is a vector field of tensors, one at each point of the space-time manifold, and each belonging to the tensor product with itself of the cotangent space at the point. The tensor product of two vector spaces is a vector space that is defined up to an isomorphism. There are several equivalent ways to define it. Most consist of defining explicitly a vector space that is called a tensor product, and, generally, the equivalence proof results almost immediately from the basic properties of the vector spaces that are so defined. The tensor product can also be defined through a universal property; see , below. As for every universal property, all that satisfy the property are isomorphic through a unique isomorphism that is compatible with the universal property. When this definition is used, the other definitions may be viewed as constructions of objects satisfying the universal property and as proofs that there are objects satisfying the universal property, that is that tensor products exist.
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