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Operation (mathematics)

Operation (mathematics)

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The general operation as explained on this page should not be confused with the more specific operators on vector space
Vector space
A vector space is a mathematical structure formed by a collection of vectors: objects that may be added together and multiplied by numbers, called scalars in this context. Scalars are often taken to be real numbers, but one may also consider vector spaces with scalar multiplication by complex...

s. For a notion in elementary mathematics, see arithmetic operation.


In its simplest meaning in mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics 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...

 and logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, an operation is an action or procedure which produces a new value from one or more input values. There are two common types of operations: unary
Unary operation
In mathematics, a unary operation is an operation with only one operand, i.e. a single input. Specifically, it is a functionf:\ A\to Awhere A is a set. In this case f is called a unary operation on A....

 and binary
Binary operation
In mathematics, a binary operation is a calculation involving two operands, in other words, an operation whose arity is two. Examples include the familiar arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division....

. Unary operations involve only one value, such as negation
Negation
In logic and mathematics, negation, also called logical complement, is an operation on propositions, truth values, or semantic values more generally. Intuitively, the negation of a proposition is true when that proposition is false, and vice versa. In classical logic negation is normally identified...

 and trigonometric function
Trigonometric function
In mathematics, the trigonometric functions are functions of an angle. They are used to relate the angles of a triangle to the lengths of the sides of a triangle...

s. Binary operations, on the other hand, take two values, and include addition
Addition
Addition is a mathematical operation that represents combining collections of objects together into a larger collection. It is signified by the plus sign . For example, in the picture on the right, there are 3 + 2 apples—meaning three apples and two other apples—which is the same as five apples....

, subtraction
Subtraction
In arithmetic, subtraction is one of the four basic binary operations; it is the inverse of addition, meaning that if we start with any number and add any number and then subtract the same number we added, we return to the number we started with...

, multiplication
Multiplication
Multiplication is the mathematical operation of scaling one number by another. It is one of the four basic operations in elementary arithmetic ....

, division
Division (mathematics)
right|thumb|200px|20 \div 4=5In mathematics, especially in elementary arithmetic, division is an arithmetic operation.Specifically, if c times b equals a, written:c \times b = a\,...

, and exponentiation
Exponentiation
Exponentiation is a mathematical operation, written as an, involving two numbers, the base a and the exponent n...

.

Operations can involve mathematical objects other than numbers. The logical values true and false can be combined using logic operations, such as and, or, and not. Vectors can be added and subtracted. Rotation
Rotation
A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center of rotation. A three-dimensional object rotates always around an imaginary line called a rotation axis. If the axis is within the body, and passes through its center of mass the body is said to rotate upon itself, or spin. A rotation...

s can be combined using the function composition
Function composition
In mathematics, function composition is the application of one function to the results of another. For instance, the functions and can be composed by computing the output of g when it has an argument of f instead of x...

 operation, performing the first rotation and then the second. Operations on sets include the binary operations union and intersection and the unary operation of complementation. Operations on function
Function (mathematics)
In 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...

s include composition
Function composition
In mathematics, function composition is the application of one function to the results of another. For instance, the functions and can be composed by computing the output of g when it has an argument of f instead of x...

 and convolution
Convolution
In mathematics and, in particular, functional analysis, convolution is a mathematical operation on two functions f and g, producing a third function that is typically viewed as a modified version of one of the original functions. Convolution is similar to cross-correlation...

.

Operations may not be defined for every possible value. For example, in the real numbers one cannot divide by zero or take square roots of negative numbers. The values for which an operation is defined form a set called its domain
Domain (mathematics)
In mathematics, the domain of definition or simply the domain of a function is the set of "input" or argument values for which the function is defined...

. The set which contains the values produced is called the codomain
Codomain
In mathematics, the codomain or target set of a function is the set into which all of the output of the function is constrained to fall. It is the set in the notation...

, but the set of actual values attained by the operation is its range
Range (mathematics)
In mathematics, the range of a function refers to either the codomain or the image of the function, depending upon usage. This ambiguity is illustrated by the function f that maps real numbers to real numbers with f = x^2. Some books say that range of this function is its codomain, the set of all...

. For example, in the real numbers, the squaring operation only produces nonnegative numbers; the codomain is the set of real numbers but the range is the nonnegative numbers.

Operations can involve dissimilar objects. A vector can be multiplied by a scalar
Scalar (mathematics)
In linear algebra, real numbers are called scalars and relate to vectors in a vector space through the operation of scalar multiplication, in which a vector can be multiplied by a number to produce another vector....

 to form another vector. And the inner product operation on two vectors produces a scalar. An operation may or may not have certain properties, for example it may be associative, commutative, anticommutative, idempotent, and so on.

The values combined are called operands, arguments, or inputs, and the value produced is called the value, result, or output. Operations can have fewer or more than two inputs.

An operation is like an operator, but the point of view is different. For instance, one often speaks of "the operation of addition" or "addition operation" when focusing on the operands and result, but one says "addition operator" (rarely "operator of addition") when focusing on the process, or from the more abstract viewpoint, the function +: S×S → S.

General definition


An operation ω is a function
Function (mathematics)
In 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 the form ω : VY, where VX1 × … × Xk. The sets Xk are called the domains of the operation, the set Y is called the codomain of the operation, and the fixed non-negative integer k (the number of arguments) is called the type or arity
Arity
In logic, mathematics, and computer science, the arity of a function or operation is the number of arguments or operands that the function takes. The arity of a relation is the dimension of the domain in the corresponding Cartesian product...

of the operation. Thus a unary operation
Unary operation
In mathematics, a unary operation is an operation with only one operand, i.e. a single input. Specifically, it is a functionf:\ A\to Awhere A is a set. In this case f is called a unary operation on A....

 has arity one, and a binary operation
Binary operation
In mathematics, a binary operation is a calculation involving two operands, in other words, an operation whose arity is two. Examples include the familiar arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division....

 has arity two. An operation of arity zero, called a nullary operation, is simply an element of the codomain Y. An operation of arity k is called a k-ary operation. Thus a k-ary operation is a (k+1)-ary relation that is functional on its first k domains.

The above describes what is usually called a finitary operation, referring to the finite number of arguments (the value k). There are obvious extensions where the arity is taken to be an infinite ordinal
Ordinal number
In set theory, an ordinal number, or just ordinal, is the order type of a well-ordered set. They are usually identified with hereditarily transitive sets. Ordinals are an extension of the natural numbers different from integers and from cardinals...

 or cardinal
Cardinal number
In mathematics, cardinal numbers, or cardinals for short, are a generalization of the natural numbers used to measure the cardinality of sets. The cardinality of a finite set is a natural number – the number of elements in the set. The transfinite cardinal numbers describe the sizes of infinite...

, or even an arbitrary set indexing the arguments.

Often, use of the term operation implies that the domain of the function is a power of the codomain (i.e. the Cartesian product
Cartesian product
In mathematics, a Cartesian product is a construction to build a new set out of a number of given sets. Each member of the Cartesian product corresponds to the selection of one element each in every one of those sets...

 of one or more copies of the codomain), although this is by no means universal, as in the example of multiplying a vector by a scalar.

Thus, since k can be 1, in the most general sense given here, operation is synonymous with function
Function (mathematics)
In 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...

, map and mapping, that is, a relation
Relation (mathematics)
In set theory and logic, a relation is a property that assigns truth values to k-tuples of individuals. Typically, the property describes a possible connection between the components of a k-tuple...

, for which each element of the domain (input set) is associated with exactly one element of the codomain (set of possible outputs).

Related topics



  • Arity
    Arity
    In logic, mathematics, and computer science, the arity of a function or operation is the number of arguments or operands that the function takes. The arity of a relation is the dimension of the domain in the corresponding Cartesian product...

  • Binary relation
    Binary relation
    In mathematics, a binary relation on a set A is a collection of ordered pairs of elements of A. In other words, it is a subset of the Cartesian product A2 = . More generally, a binary relation between two sets A and B is a subset of...

  • Domain
    Domain (mathematics)
    In mathematics, the domain of definition or simply the domain of a function is the set of "input" or argument values for which the function is defined...


  • Function
    Function (mathematics)
    In 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...

  • Multigrade operator
    Multigrade operator
    In logic and mathematics, a multigrade operator \Omega is a parametric operator with parameter k in the set N of non-negative integers....

  • Operator (mathematics)

  • Parametric operator
  • Relation
  • Triadic relation
    Triadic relation
    In mathematics, a ternary relation or triadic relation is a finitary relation in which the number of places in the relation is three. Ternary relations may also be referred to as 3-adic, 3-ary, 3-dimensional, or 3-place....

  • Arithmetic
    Arithmetic
    Arithmetic or arithmetics is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. It involves the study of quantity, especially as the result of combining numbers...