In
mathematicsMathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...
, the
Kronecker delta or
Kronecker's delta, named after
Leopold KroneckerLeopold Kronecker was a German mathematician who worked on number theory and algebra.He criticized Cantor's work on set theory, and was quoted by as having said, "God made integers; all else is the work of man"...
, is a
functionIn mathematics, a function associates one quantity, the argument of the function, also known as the input, with another quantity, the value of the function, also known as the output. A function assigns exactly one output to each input. The argument and the value may be real numbers, but they can...
of two
variablesIn mathematics, a variable is a value that may change within the scope of a given problem or set of operations. In contrast, a constant is a value that remains unchanged, though often unknown or undetermined. The concepts of constants and variables are fundamental to many areas of mathematics and...
, usually
integerThe integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the nonzero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...
s, which is 1 if they are equal and 0 otherwise. So, for example,
, but
It is written as the symbol
δ_{ij}, and treated as a notational shorthand rather than as a function.
Alternate notation
Using the
Iverson bracket:

Often, the notation
is used.
In
linear algebraLinear algebra is a branch of mathematics that studies vector spaces, also called linear spaces, along with linear functions that input one vector and output another. Such functions are called linear maps and can be represented by matrices if a basis is given. Thus matrix theory is often...
, it can be thought of as a
tensorTensors are geometric objects that describe linear relations between vectors, scalars, and other tensors. Elementary examples include the dot product, the cross product, and linear maps. Vectors and scalars themselves are also tensors. A tensor can be represented as a multidimensional array of...
, and is written
.
Sometimes the Kronecker delta is called the substitution tensor.
Digital signal processing
Similarly, in
digital signal processingDigital signal processing is concerned with the representation of discrete time signals by a sequence of numbers or symbols and the processing of these signals. Digital signal processing and analog signal processing are subfields of signal processing...
, the same concept is represented as a function on
(the
integerThe integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the nonzero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...
s):
The function is referred to as an
impulse, or
unit impulse. And when it stimulates a signal processing element, the output is called the
impulse responseIn signal processing, the impulse response, or impulse response function , of a dynamic system is its output when presented with a brief input signal, called an impulse. More generally, an impulse response refers to the reaction of any dynamic system in response to some external change...
of the element.
Properties of the delta function
The Kronecker delta has the socalled
sifting property that for
:
and if the integers are viewed as a measure space, endowed with the
counting measureIn mathematics, the counting measure is an intuitive way to put a measure on any set: the "size" of a subset is taken to be the number of elements in the subset, if the subset is finite, and ∞ if the subset is infinite....
, then this property coincides with the defining property of the
Dirac delta functionThe Dirac delta function, or δ function, is a generalized function depending on a real parameter such that it is zero for all values of the parameter except when the parameter is zero, and its integral over the parameter from −∞ to ∞ is equal to one. It was introduced by theoretical...
and in fact Dirac's delta was named after the Kronecker delta because of this analogous property. In signal processing it is usually the context (discrete or continuous time) that distinguishes the Kronecker and Dirac "functions". And by convention,
generally indicates continuous time (Dirac), whereas arguments like
i,
j,
k,
l,
m, and
n are usually reserved for discrete time (Kronecker). Another common practice is to represent discrete sequences with square brackets; thus:
. It is important to note that the Kronecker delta is not the result of directly sampling the Dirac delta function.
The Kronecker delta is used in many areas of mathematics.
Linear algebra
In
linear algebraLinear algebra is a branch of mathematics that studies vector spaces, also called linear spaces, along with linear functions that input one vector and output another. Such functions are called linear maps and can be represented by matrices if a basis is given. Thus matrix theory is often...
, the
identity matrixIn linear algebra, the identity matrix or unit matrix of size n is the n×n square matrix with ones on the main diagonal and zeros elsewhere. It is denoted by In, or simply by I if the size is immaterial or can be trivially determined by the context...
can be written as
.
If it is considered as a
tensorTensors are geometric objects that describe linear relations between vectors, scalars, and other tensors. Elementary examples include the dot product, the cross product, and linear maps. Vectors and scalars themselves are also tensors. A tensor can be represented as a multidimensional array of...
, the Kronecker tensor, it can be written
with a covariant index
j and contravariant index
i.
This (1,1) tensor represents:
 The identity matrix, considered as a linear mapping
 The trace
In linear algebra, the trace of an nbyn square matrix A is defined to be the sum of the elements on the main diagonal of A, i.e.,...
 The inner product
 The map , representing scalar multiplication as a sum of outer product
In linear algebra, the outer product typically refers to the tensor product of two vectors. The result of applying the outer product to a pair of vectors is a matrix...
s.
Relationship to the Dirac delta functionThe Dirac delta function, or δ function, is a generalized function depending on a real parameter such that it is zero for all values of the parameter except when the parameter is zero, and its integral over the parameter from −∞ to ∞ is equal to one. It was introduced by theoretical...
In
probability theoryProbability theory is the branch of mathematics concerned with analysis of random phenomena. The central objects of probability theory are random variables, stochastic processes, and events: mathematical abstractions of nondeterministic events or measured quantities that may either be single...
and
statisticsStatistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....
, the Kronecker delta and
Dirac delta functionThe Dirac delta function, or δ function, is a generalized function depending on a real parameter such that it is zero for all values of the parameter except when the parameter is zero, and its integral over the parameter from −∞ to ∞ is equal to one. It was introduced by theoretical...
can both be used to represent a discrete distribution. If the
supportIn mathematics, the support of a function is the set of points where the function is not zero, or the closure of that set . This concept is used very widely in mathematical analysis...
of a distribution consists of points
, with corresponding probabilities
, then the
probability mass functionIn probability theory and statistics, a probability mass function is a function that gives the probability that a discrete random variable is exactly equal to some value...
of the distribution over
can be written, using the Kronecker delta, as
Equivalently, the
probability density functionIn probability theory, a probability density function , or density of a continuous random variable is a function that describes the relative likelihood for this random variable to occur at a given point. The probability for the random variable to fall within a particular region is given by the...
of the distribution can be written using the
Dirac delta functionThe Dirac delta function, or δ function, is a generalized function depending on a real parameter such that it is zero for all values of the parameter except when the parameter is zero, and its integral over the parameter from −∞ to ∞ is equal to one. It was introduced by theoretical...
as
Under certain conditions, the Kronecker delta can arise from sampling a Dirac delta function. For example, if a Dirac delta impulse occurs exactly at a sampling point and is ideally lowpassfiltered (with cutoff at the critical frequency) per the
Nyquist–Shannon sampling theoremThe Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem, after Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon, is a fundamental result in the field of information theory, in particular telecommunications and signal processing. Sampling is the process of converting a signal into a numeric sequence...
, the resulting discretetime signal will be a Kronecker delta function.
Extensions of the delta function
In the same fashion, we may define an analogous, multidimensional function of many variables
This function takes the value 1 if and only if all the upper indices match the corresponding lower ones, and the value zero otherwise.
Integral representations
For any integer
n, using a standard
residueIn mathematics, more specifically complex analysis, the residue is a complex number proportional to the contour integral of a meromorphic function along a path enclosing one of its singularities...
calculation we can write an integral representation for the Kronecker delta as the integral below, where the contour of the integral goes counterclockwise around zero. This representation is also equivalent to a definite integral by a rotation in the complex plane.
The Kronecker comb
The Kronecker comb function with period
N is defined (using digital notation) as:
where
N and
n are integers. The Kronecker comb thus consists of an infinite series of unit impulses
N units apart, and includes the unit impulse at zero. It may be considered to be the discrete analog of the
Dirac combIn mathematics, a Dirac comb is a periodic Schwartz distribution constructed from Dirac delta functions...
.
See also
 Dirac measure
 Indicator function
 LeviCivita symbol
The LeviCivita symbol, also called the permutation symbol, antisymmetric symbol, or alternating symbol, is a mathematical symbol used in particular in tensor calculus...
– $\backslash varepsilon\_\{ijk\}$