Questions tagged [ra.rings-and-algebras]

Non-commutative rings and algebras, non-associative algebras, universal algebra and lattice theory, linear algebra, semigroups. For questions specific to commutative algebra (that is, rings that are assumed both associative and commutative), rather use the tag ac.commutative-algebra.

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107
votes
2answers
9k views

How would you solve this tantalizing Halmos problem?

$1-ab$ invertible $\implies$ $1-ba$ invertible has a slick power series "proof" as below, where Halmos asks for an explanation of why this tantalizing derivation succeeds. Do you know one? Geometric ...
105
votes
18answers
11k views

How do you decide whether a question in abstract algebra is worth studying?

Dear MO-community, I am not sure how mature my view on this is and I might say some things that are controversial. I welcome contradicting views. In any case, I find it important to clarify this in my ...
92
votes
11answers
5k views

Can a non-surjective polynomial map from an infinite field to itself miss only finitely many points?

Is there an infinite field $k$ together with a polynomial $f \in k[x]$ such that the associated map $f \colon k \to k$ is not surjective but misses only finitely many elements in $k$ (i.e. only ...
89
votes
2answers
6k views

$A$ is isomorphic to $A \oplus \mathbb{Z}^2$, but not to $A \oplus \mathbb{Z}$

Are there abelian groups $A$ with $A \cong A \oplus \mathbb{Z}^2$ and $A \not\cong A \oplus \mathbb{Z}$?
85
votes
16answers
16k views

Why is it a good idea to study a ring by studying its modules?

This is related to another question of mine. Suppose you met someone who was well-acquainted with the basic properties of rings, but who had never heard of a module. You tell him that modules ...
80
votes
5answers
8k views

When is $A$ isomorphic to $A^3$?

This is totally elementary, but I have no idea how to solve it: let $A$ be an abelian group such that $A$ is isomorphic to $A^3$. is then $A$ isomorphic to $A^2$? probably no, but how construct a ...
74
votes
1answer
4k views

$R$ is isomorphic to $R[X,Y]$, but not to $R[X]$

Is there a commutative ring $R$ with $R \cong R[X,Y]$ and $R \not\cong R[X]$? This is a ring-theoretic analog of my previous question about abelian groups: In fact, in any algebraic category we may ...
71
votes
9answers
5k views

Can we unify addition and multiplication into one binary operation? To what extent can we find universal binary operations?

The question is the extent to which we can unify addition and multiplication, realizing them as terms in a single underlying binary operation. I have a number of questions. Is there a binary ...
62
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25answers
63k views

Linear Algebra Texts?

Can anyone suggest a relatively gentle linear algebra text that integrates vector spaces and matrix algebra right from the start? I've found in the past that students react in very negative ways to ...
59
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3answers
6k views

What is the current status of the Kaplansky zero-divisor conjecture for group rings?

Let $K$ be a field and $G$ a group. The so called zero-divisor conjecture for group rings asserts that the group ring $K[G]$ is a domain if and only if $G$ is a torsion-free group. A couple of good ...
58
votes
5answers
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Does "finitely presented" mean "always finitely presented"? (Answered: Yes!)

Precisely, if an R-module M has a finite presentation, and Rk → M is some unrelated surjection (k finite), is the kernel necessarily also finitely generated? Basically I want to believe I can ...
53
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1answer
4k views

A condition that implies commutativity

Let $R$ be a ring. A notable theorem of N. Jacobson states that if the identity $x^{n}=x$ holds for every $x \in R$ and a fixed $n \geq 2$ then $R$ is a commutative ring. The proof of the result for ...
52
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is there no Cayley's Theorem for rings?

Cayley's theorem makes groups nice: a closed set of bijections is a group and a group is a closed set of bijections- beautiful, natural and understandable canonically as symmetry. It is not so much a ...
52
votes
0answers
2k views

What did Gelfand mean by suggesting to study "Heredity Principle" structures instead of categories?

Israel Gelfand wrote in his remarkable talk "Mathematics as an adequate language (a few remarks)", given at "The Unity of Mathematics" Conference in honor of his 90th birthday, the ...
50
votes
5answers
4k views

Does this formula have a rigorous meaning, or is it merely formal?

I hope this problem is not considered too "elementary" for MO. It concerns a formula that I have always found fascinating. For, at first glance, it appears completely "obvious", while on closer ...
49
votes
7answers
7k views

"Algebraic" topologies like the Zariski topology?

The fact that a commutative ring has a natural topological space associated with it is still a really interesting coincidence. The entire subject of Algebraic geometry is based on this simple fact. ...
49
votes
1answer
2k views

Invertible matrices over noncommutative rings

Let $A\in M_m(R)$ be an invertible square matrix over a noncommutative ring $R$. Is the transpose matrix $A^t$ also invertible? If it isn't, are there any easy counterexamples? The question popped up ...
48
votes
7answers
12k views

Good lattice theory books?

A recent answer motivated me to post about this. I've always had a vague, unpleasant feeling that somehow lattice theory has been completely robbed of the important place it deserves in mathematics - ...
45
votes
9answers
9k views

What are the reasons for considering rings without identity?

I think a major reason is because Lie algebras don't have an identity, but I'm not really sure.
45
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2answers
2k views

Non isomorphic finite rings with isomorphic additive and multiplicative structure

About a year ago, a colleague asked me the following question: Suppose $(R,+,\cdot)$ and $(S,\oplus,\odot)$ are two rings such that $(R,+)$ is isomorphic, as an abelian group, to $(S,\oplus)$, and $...
41
votes
2answers
2k views

Fermat's Last Theorem for integer matrices

Some years ago I was asked by a friend if Fermat's Last Theorem was true for matrices. It is pretty easy to convince oneself that it is not the case, and in fact the following statement occurs ...
41
votes
3answers
6k views

transcendental Galois theory

Suppose we define an arbitrary field extension $K/F$ to be Galois if, for all subextensions $L$ of $K/F$, we have $K^{\operatorname{Aut}(K/L)} = L$. In words: for any element $x$ of $K \setminus L$, ...
40
votes
8answers
5k views

What makes a theorem *a* "nullstellensatz."

I know what the (Hilbert) Nullstellensatz says. A MathSciNet search on "nullstellensatz" turns up nearly 200 papers, with only a minority offering either new proofs or new applications of the classic ...
39
votes
5answers
4k views

When does a ring surjection imply a surjection of the group of units?

The following might be a very trivial question. If so, I don't mind it being closed, but would appreciate a reference where I could read about it. Let $R$ and $S$ be commutative rings and let $R^\...
39
votes
6answers
6k views

An algebra of "integrals"

When discussing divergent integrals with people, I got curious about the following: Is there an $\mathbb{R}$-algebra $A$ together with a map (could be defined on just a subspace) $$\int_0^{\infty}: ...
36
votes
17answers
6k views

Canonical examples of algebraic structures

Please list some examples of common examples of algebraic structures. I was thinking answers of the following form. "When I read about a [insert structure here], I immediately think of [example]." ...
36
votes
7answers
5k views

Why don't ideals and quotients work well for categories?

Ideals are intimately related to quotients and congruence relations. They clearly play a very important role in ring theory and order theory. So do normal subgroups in group theory. (Enriched) ...
36
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there an explicit construction of a free coalgebra?

I am interested in the differences between algebras and coalgebras. Naively, it does not seem as though there is much difference: after all, all you have done is to reverse the arrows in the ...
34
votes
9answers
8k views

Simplest examples of rings that are not isomorphic to their opposites

What are the simplest examples of rings that are not isomorphic to their opposite rings? Is there a science to constructing them? The only simple example known to me: In Jacobson's Basic Algebra (...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the current status of Agrawal's conjecture?

In their famous 'Primes is in P' paper Agrawal, Kayal and Saxena stated the following conjecture: If for coprime integers $n$ and $r$ the equality $(X-1)^n = X^n - 1$ holds in $\mathbb{Z}_n[X]/(X^r-...
33
votes
1answer
2k views

Whence “homomorphism” and “homomorphic”?

Today homomorphism (resp. isomorphism) means what Jordan (1870) had called isomorphism (resp. holoedric isomorphism). How did the switch happen? “Homomorphic” (and “homomorphism” as “property of ...
33
votes
2answers
2k views

What do cluster algebras tell us about Grassmannians?

One of the first examples of a cluster algebra given in Fomin and Zelevinsky's original paper is the homogeneous coordinate ring $\mathbb{C}[G_{2,n}]$ of the Grassmannian of planes in $\mathbb{C}^n$. ...
32
votes
8answers
4k views

Uncountable counterexamples in algebra

In functional analysis, there are many examples of things that "go wrong" in the nonseparable setting. For instance, my favorite version of the spectral theorem only works for operators on a ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a universal property for Witt vectors?

Do the Witt vectors satisfy a universal property?
32
votes
1answer
3k views

Have you ever seen this bizarre commutative algebra?

I have encountered very strange commutative nonassociative algebras without unit, over a characteristic zero field, and I cannot figure out where do they belong. Has anybody seen these animals in any ...
32
votes
3answers
3k views

What is interesting/useful about big Witt Vectors?

$p$-typical Witt vectors are (among other things) a canonical way of associating to a perfect ring $A$ of characteristic $p$ a complete DVR of characteristic $0$ with residue ring $A$ generalizing $\...
32
votes
0answers
799 views

Groups whose complex irreducible representations are finite dimensional

By a complex irreducible representation of a group $G$, I mean a simple $\mathbb CG$-module. So my representations need not be unitary and we are working in the purely algebraic setting. It is easy ...
31
votes
7answers
5k views

Consequences of not requiring ring homomorphisms to be unital?

As defined in many modern algebra books, a homomorphism of unital rings must preserve the unit elements: $f(1_R)=1_S$. But there has been a minority who do not require this, one prominent example ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

Bass' stable range of $\mathbf Z[X]$

Let $n$ be a positive integer and $A$ be a commutative ring. The ring $A$ is said to be of Bass stable range $\mathrm{sr}(A)\leq n$ if for $a, a_1, \dots, a_n \in A$ one has the following implication: ...
31
votes
2answers
5k views

Dimension of infinite product of vector spaces

This question is motivated by the question link text, which compares the infinite direct sum and the infinite direct product of a ring. It is well-known that an infinite dimensional vector space is ...
30
votes
3answers
3k views

Example for column rank $\neq$ row rank

The proof that column rank = row rank for matrices over a field relies on the fact that the elements of a field commute. I'm looking for an easy example of a matrix over a ring for which column rank $\...
30
votes
15answers
11k views

Geometrical meaning of Grassmann algebra

I don't understand wedge product and Grassmann algebra. However, I heard that these concepts are obvious when you understand the geometrical intuition behind them. Can you give this geometrical ...
30
votes
4answers
19k views

What is the intuition for the trace norm (nuclear norm)?

I will word this question in terms of linear operators acting on $\mathbb{C}^n$ for simplicity. Feel free to provide an answer in terms of more general Hilbert spaces if you think it makes more sense ...
30
votes
6answers
1k views

How to recognize a Hopf algebra?

Suppose we are handed an algebra $A$ over a field $k$. What should we look at if we want to determine whether $A$ can or cannot be equipped with structure maps to make it a Hopf algebra? I guess in ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

Are Conway's omnific integers the Grothendieck group of the ordinals under commutative addition?

This is a question in two parts. Say that $\mathbf{On}$ is the proper class of all ordinal numbers in ZFC. We can define a binary operator over $\mathbf{On}$ which corresponds to the commutative ...
30
votes
0answers
3k views

Greatly expanded new edition of a Bourbaki chapter on algebra?

Recently I discovered by accident that Bourbaki issued in 2012 a radically expanded version of their 1958 Chapter 8 Modules et anneaux semi-simples (like other chapters, initially in French) within ...
29
votes
6answers
4k views

Expressing $-\operatorname{adj}(A)$ as a polynomial in $A$?

Suppose $A\in R^{n\times n}$, where $R$ is a commutative ring. Let $p_i \in R$ be the coefficients of the characteristic polynomial of $A$: $\operatorname{det}(A-xI) = p_0 + p_1x + \dots + p_n x^n$. I ...
29
votes
1answer
15k views

The gimbal lock shows up in my quaternions

I suspect this is a bit basic for mathoverflow, seeing I'm still just an undergraduate I've been playing around with quaternions as means to eliminate the gimbal lock. From what I understand, one ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

Categorification of determinant

The notion of trace of a matrix can be generalized to trace of an endomorphism of a dualizable objects in a symmetric monoidal category. (See Ponto & Shulman for a nice description.) Is there a ...
29
votes
0answers
1k views

Is there a field $F$ which is isomorphic to $F(X,Y)$ but not to $F(X)$?

Is there a field $F$ such that $F \cong F(X,Y)$ as fields, but $F \not \cong F(X)$ as fields? I know only an example of a field $F$ such that $F$ isomorphic to $F(x,y)$ : this is something like $F=k(...

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