# Zero divisor In abstract algebra, an element a of a ring R is called a left zero divisor if there exists a nonzero x in R such that ax = 0, or equivalently if the map from R to R that sends x to ax is not injective.[a] Similarly, an element a of a ring is called a right zero divisor if there exists a nonzero y in R such that ya = 0. This is a partial case of divisibility in rings. An element that is a left or a right zero divisor is simply called a zero divisor. An element a that is both a left and a right zero divisor is called a two-sided zero divisor (the nonzero x such that ax = 0 may be different from the nonzero y such that ya = 0). If the ring is commutative, then the left and right zero divisors are the same.

An element of a ring that is not a left zero divisor is called left regular or left cancellable. Similarly, an element of a ring that is not a right zero divisor is called right regular or right cancellable. An element of a ring that is left and right cancellable, and is hence not a zero divisor, is called regular or cancellable, or a non-zero-divisor. A zero divisor that is nonzero is called a nonzero zero divisor or a nontrivial zero divisor. A nonzero ring with no nontrivial zero divisors is called a domain.

There is no need for a separate convention for the case a = 0, because the definition applies also in this case:

Some references include or exclude 0 as a zero divisor in all rings by convention, but they then suffer from having to introduce exceptions in statements such as the following:

Specializing the definitions of "M-regular" and "zero divisor on M" to the case M = R recovers the definitions of "regular" and "zero divisor" given earlier in this article.