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Def. Binary operation on a set S. A binary operation ole1.gif on a set S is a rule which assigns to each ordered pair a,b of elements in S a unique element c = ab.

Def. Closure. A set S is closed with respect to a binary operation ole2.gif if and only if every image ab is in S for every a,b in S.

Types of binary operations.

Commutative. A binary operation on a set S is called commutative if xy = yx for all x,y in S.

Associative. A binary operation on a set S is called associative if (xy)z = x (yz) for all x,y,z in S.

Distributive. Let S be a set on which two operations ∙ and + are defined. The operation ∙ is said to left distributive with respect to + if

            a ∙(b + c ) = (a∙b) + (a∙c) for all a,b,c in S

and is said to be right distributive with respect to + if

            (b + c)∙a = (b∙a) + (c∙a)                   for all a,b,c in S

Existence of identity elements and inverse elements.

Def. Identity element. A set S is said to have an identity element with respect to a binary operation ole3.gif on S if there exists an element e in S with the property ex = xe = x for every x in S.

Def. Inverse element. If a set S contains an identity element e for the binary operation ole4.gif , then an element b ole5.gif S is an inverse of an element a ole6.gif S with respect to ole7.gif if ab = ba = e .

Note. There must be an identity element in order for inverse elements to exist.


Theorem 1. A set S contains at most one identity for the binary operation ole8.gif . An element e is called a left identity if ea = a for every a in S. It is called a right identity if ae = a for every a in S. If a set contains both a left and a right identity, they are the same.

Theorem 2. An element of a set S can have at most one inverse if the operation is associative.

In general, in regular algebra, when one multiplies several real numbers together, a product of several numbers x1,x2, x3, .... , xn is assumed to have a particular value independent of how the multiplications are performed (i.e. where parentheses are placed):

                        x1x2x3 ... xn = x1(x2x3)(x4 ... xn) = (x1x2)(x3x4)(x5 ...xn)

or, in terms of numbers,


                5∙3∙8∙7∙3∙9 = 5(3∙8)(7∙3)9 = (5∙3)(8∙7)(3∙9) = ...

The product is unique, independent of the placing of the parentheses. This rule is true in the case of the multiplication of real numbers. It is not, however, in general true with an arbitrary operation ole9.gif . Under what conditions is it true? It is true on a closed set S which has an operation which is associative. The operation of multiplication on the real numbers is associative and so this product is unique for the multiplication of real numbers.

Theorem 3. Let a set S be closed with respect to an associative binary operation ole10.gif . Then the products formed from the factors x1,x2, x3, .... , xn , multiplied in that order, and with the parentheses placed in any positions whatever, are equal to the general product x1,x2, x3, .... , xn.

Note that the theorem refers to the grouping -- the order of the numbers remains the same.



  Ayres. Modern Algebra. p. 19, 20

  Beaumont, Ball. Introduction to Modern Algebra and Matrix Theory. p. 123 - 127

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