Rng (algebra)

In mathematics, and more specifically in abstract algebra, a rng (or non-unital ring or pseudo-ring) is an algebraic structure satisfying the same properties as a ring, but without assuming the existence of a multiplicative identity. The term "rng" (IPA: ) is meant to suggest that it is a "ring" without "i", that is, without the requirement for an "identity element".

There is no consensus in the community as to whether the existence of a multiplicative identity must be one of the ring axioms (see the history section of the article on rings). The term "rng" was coined to alleviate this ambiguity when people want to refer explicitly to a ring without the axiom of multiplicative identity.

A number of algebras of functions considered in analysis are not unital, for instance the algebra of functions decreasing to zero at infinity, especially those with compact support on some (non-compact) space.

Formally, a rng is a set R with two binary operations (+, ·) called addition and multiplication such that

A rng homomorphism is a function f: RS from one rng to another such that

If R and S are rings, then a ring homomorphism RS is the same as a rng homomorphism RS that maps 1 to 1.

All rings are rngs. A simple example of a rng that is not a ring is given by the even integers with the ordinary addition and multiplication of integers. Another example is given by the set of all 3-by-3 real matrices whose bottom row is zero. Both of these examples are instances of the general fact that every (one- or two-sided) ideal is a rng.

Rngs often appear naturally in functional analysis when linear operators on infinite-dimensional vector spaces are considered. Take for instance any infinite-dimensional vector space V and consider the set of all linear operators f : VV with finite rank (i.e. dim f(V) < ∞). Together with addition and composition of operators, this is a rng, but not a ring. Another example is the rng of all real sequences that converge to 0, with component-wise operations.

Also, many test function spaces occurring in the theory of distributions consist of functions decreasing to zero at infinity, like e.g. Schwartz space. Thus, the function everywhere equal to one, which would be the only possible identity element for pointwise multiplication, cannot exist in such spaces, which therefore are rngs (for pointwise addition and multiplication). In particular, the real-valued continuous functions with compact support defined on some topological space, together with pointwise addition and multiplication, form a rng; this is not a ring unless the underlying space is compact.

The set 2Z of even integers is closed under addition and multiplication and has an additive identity, 0, so it is a rng, but it does not have a multiplicative identity, so it is not a ring.

In 2Z, the only multiplicative idempotent is 0, the only nilpotent is 0, and the only element with a reflexive inverse is 0.

Every rng R can be enlarged to a ring R^ by adjoining an identity element. A general way in which to do this is to formally add an identity element 1 and let R^ consist of integral linear combinations of 1 and elements of R with the premise that none of its nonzero integral multiples coincide or are contained in R. That is, elements of R^ are of the form

where n is an integer and rR. Multiplication is defined by linearity:

More formally, we can take R^ to be the cartesian product Z × R and define addition and multiplication by

The multiplicative identity of R^ is then (1, 0). There is a natural rng homomorphism j : RR^ defined by j(r) = (0, r). This map has the following universal property:

There is a natural surjective ring homomorphism R^ → Z which sends (n, r) to n. The kernel of this homomorphism is the image of R in R^. Since j is injective, we see that R is embedded as a (two-sided) ideal in R^ with the quotient ring R^/R isomorphic to Z. It follows that

Every rng is an ideal in some ring, and every ideal of a ring is a rng.

Note that j is never surjective. So, even when R already has an identity element, the ring R^ will be a larger one with a different identity. The ring R^ is often called the Dorroh extension of R after the American mathematician Joe Lee Dorroh, who first constructed it.

The process of adjoining an identity element to a rng can be formulated in the language of category theory. If we denote the category of all rings and ring homomorphisms by Ring and the category of all rngs and rng homomorphisms by Rng, then Ring is a (nonfull) subcategory of Rng. The construction of R^ given above yields a left adjoint to the inclusion functor I : RingRng. This means that Ring is a reflective subcategory of Rng with reflector j : RR^.

There are several properties that have been considered in the literature that are weaker than having an identity element, but not so general. For example:

It is not hard to check that these properties are weaker than having an identity element and weaker than the previous one.

Any additive subgroup of a rng of square zero is an ideal. Thus a rng of square zero is simple if and only if its additive group is a simple abelian group, i.e., a cyclic group of prime order.[5]

is unital if it maps the identity element of A to the identity element of B.

If the associative algebra A over the field K is not unital, one can adjoin an identity element as follows: take A × K as underlying K-vector space and define multiplication ∗ by

for x, y in A and r, s in K. Then ∗ is an associative operation with identity element (0, 1). The old algebra A is contained in the new one, and in fact A × K is the "most general" unital algebra containing A, in the sense of universal constructions.