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Abstract Algebra Notes Version 04

Spring, 2012
1. PRELIMINARIES
Consider the binary operation g defined on the set S { A, B , C , D, E , F } as follows.

This Cayley table defines the product C gB B and the product B gC C .

Definition 1. A set S is closed under a binary operation g iff x gy S for all x , y S .
Definition 2. A binary operation g defined set S is associative iff ( x gy )gz x g( y gz ) for all
x, y, z S .
Note that the set S is closed under a binary operation g defined by the table since the interior of
the table contains only symbols from S . In addition, if we wanted to verify that the given
operation is associative, then we would need to verify the identity given in Definition 2, where
we could substitute any of the six elements in S for x , any of the six for y , and any of the six
for z . So, by the fundamental counting principle, the number of identities we would need to
verify would be 6 x 6 x 6 216 .
Its likely intuitive that not all six by six tables would define associative operations. As a matter
of fact, the number of ways a table could be completed is determined as follows. If we were to
take the table given above, we can observe that there are 6 choices for the definition of the
product AgA . Similarly, there are six different choices for each of the other 35 products, or a
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total of 636 6 6 1.03144 x1028 tables. Likewise the number of 10 x10 tables is 10100 which,
as it turns out is more than the estimated number of atoms in the universe. (Dont believe me?
Definition 3. A set S that is closed under an associative binary operation is called a semigroup.
The interested reader is encouraged to visit the On-line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences at
http://www.research.att.com/~njas/sequences/?
q=binary+operation&sort=0&fmt=0&language=english
(sequences A002489 and A023814) where collections of important integer sequences have been
studied, computed and recorded. At that site can be found more than the following information:

Number of
tables
Number of
assoc tables

2
16

3
19683

4
5
4294967296

113

3492

Note that the Cayley table defined in Figure 1 is indeed a semigroup.

Definition 4. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup. Then S is commutative under g iff x gy y gx
for all x , y S .
Note that the semigroup defined in Figure 1 is not commutative since AgB B but B gA C .
Definition 5. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup. An element zl S is called a left zero of S
iff zl gx zl for all x S . (Similarly we can define the term right zero.)
Definition 6. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup. An element il S is called a left identity of
S iff il gx x for all x S . (Similarly we can define the term right identity.)
We note that if an element is both a left identity and a right identity, then we simply call that
element an identity. Similarly if an element is both a left zero and a right zero, then we will
simply say that the element is a zero. By observation of the table defined in Figure 2, E is an
identity and F is a zero.

Figure 3. Semigroup having two left zeros

Notice also that the semigroup above has one right identity, namely F but no left identity.

Proposition 1. If il is a left identity of ( S ,g) and ir is a right identity of ( S ,g) , then il ir .

Proof: Suppose the hypothesis is true. [WTS: il ir ] But il gir ir since il is a left identity.
Likewise, il gir il since ir is a right identity. Therefore il il gir ir .
Proposition 2. If zl is a left zero of ( S ,g) and zr is a right zero of ( S ,g) , then zl zr .
Proof: (The proof is left to the gentle reader.)
Exercise 1. For each of the semigroups provided in the handout, determine which elements (if
any) are left (right) identities, and left (right) zeros, and which semigroups are commutative.
Note: There is a hierarchy (of sorts) applied as mathematicians conjecture about and prove
results. For example, we have

Theorems the main results of a research effort. It is common for a research

paper or a thesis to have two or three main theorems.
Propositions usually relatively minor results but still somewhat interesting.
Research publications usually contain numerous propositions.
Corollaries logical consequences of theorems or propositions. Usually
corollaries occur when some part of a hypothesis is restricted to a special case,
allowing the conclusion of the theorem or proposition to be reached without
further proof.
Lemmas an intermediate result, usually proved in advance of the proof of a main
theorem or a proposition. In many cases a lemma will contain the crucial logic
that provides the backbone of the proof of the theorem. Lemmas can be used to
shorten otherwise long proofs of more important results since those proofs can
just reference the lemma.

Exercise 2. Use the program CHECKER.exe to find a semigroup having 3 elements (i.e. a 3x3
Caley table) that has exactly 3 left zeros.
Solution to Exercise 2. The following table satisfies the requirements of the exercise.

Figure 4. Semigroup in which all elements are left zeros.

Exercise 3. Show that the table above is associative directly (without using the checker
program).

Solution to Exercise 3. The expression xg( y gz ) always simplifies to x since x is a left zero.
Similarly, the expression ( xgy )gz simplifies to ( x)gz and then to x again since x is a left zero.
Proposition 3. If S is a semigroup in which all elements are left zeros, then all elements are
also right identities.
Proof: Suppose the hypothesis is true. [WTS if x S then x is a right identity, i.e., y gx y for
all y S .] Suppose that x is an arbitrary element of S . In order to show that x is a right
identity, let y S . Then y gx y since y is a right zero. Hence x is a right identity.
Exercise 4. Use the program CHECKER.exe to find a semigroup of order 3 (i.e. a 3x3 Caley
table) that has exactly 2 left zeros.

2. SUBSEMIGROUPS

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Consider the following Caley table (Table #1 from the original handout).

Figure 6. Semigroup #1 on handout.

We can highlight a portion of that table as follows, showing that under the given operation, the
set T { A, B} is itself a semigroup, since T is closed under that restricted operation.

Figure 7. A subset of a semigroup that is also a semigroup.

Definition 7. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and that T S . Then (T ,g) is a subsemigroup
of ( S ,g) iff the set T is closed under the operation g. (Frequently, we will simply say that T is a
subsemigroup of S .)
Note that T is associative under the operation g since S is associative and T S . Note also
that if ( S ,g) is commutative then so is (T ,g) . It is customary to use the word order to describe
the number of elements in any particular semigroup. So, for example, the semigroup given in
Figure 7 above has order 4 and the subsemigroup T has order 2.
Exercise 5. Use the homework handout to find an example of a noncommutative semigroup that
has a commutative subsemigroup the subsemigroup should contain at least 2 elements.
In what follows, we create the subsemigroup tree for the Caley table given in Figure 7.

Figure 9. The subsemigroup tree for semigroup in Figure 7.

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Definition 8. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then x is called an idempotent of
S iff xgx x .
Note that in the semigroup of Figure 8 (#18), the idempotents are A and B .
Exercise 6. Use the original handout to list all idempotents for each given semigroup.
Proposition 4. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and I is the set of all idempotents of S . If
S is commutative, then I is a subsemigroup of S .
Proposition 5. Suppose that is a semigroup with subsemigroups M and N . Then M I N is
also a subsemigroup of ( S ,g) .
Definition 9. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then
xS {z : z xy for some y S } .
Proposition 6. Suppose that is a semigroup and x S . Then xS is a subsemigroup of S .
Definition 10. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then x n is defined inductively as
follows
x1 x
If x k has been defined for some k 1 , then x k 1 x k gx1 .
Proposition 7. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then x n gx1 x1 gx n for all n 1 .
Proof (by induction on n):
Since x1 gx1 x1 gx1 , the conclusion holds for k 1 .
Suppose now that x k gx1 x1 gx k for some k 1 , and consider x k 1 gx1 . By associativity
and the definition of x k 1 , x k 1 gx1 ( x1 gx k )gx1 x1 g( x k gx1 ) , and by the induction
hypothesis, x1 g( x k gx1 ) x1 g( x1 gx k ) x1 gx k 1 .
Proposition 8. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then x i gx j xi j for all positive
integers i, j .
Proof: Suppose the hypothesis is true. [WTS if x S and i, j are positive integers, then
x i gx j xi j ] Write j n i . Then, we want to show that x i gx n i xi ( n i ) x n . Our proof is
by induction on i .
By Definition 9 and Proposition 4, x1 gx n 1 x1 ( n 1) x n , and the conclusion holds for
k 1.

Suppose now that x k gx n k x k ( n k ) x n for some k 1 , and consider x k 1 gx n ( k 1) . By

associativity and the definition of x k 1 ,
x k 1 gx n ( k 1) ( x k gx )gx n ( k 1) x k g( xgx n ( k 1) ) x k gx1 n ( k 1) x k gx n k , and by the
induction hypothesis, x k gx n k x k ( n k ) x ( k 1) ( n ( k 1)) . It follows that
x k 1 gx n ( k 1) x ( k 1) ( n( k 1)) .

Corollary 1. x i gx j x n for all positive integers i, j such that i j n .

Definition 11. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . Then x {x, x 2 , . . , x n , . . .}
and we call x the subsemigroup of S generated by x .
Consider table #2 in the in-class handout. For that semigroup, we have
A { A, D, D, D,...} { A, D}
B {B, B,...} {B}
C {C , B, C , B,...} {C , B}
D {D, D,...} {D}
Exercise 7. Use the homework handout to list all subsemigroups generated by single elements
for each semigroup.
Solution to Exercise 7. The semigroup #3, lets call it S, has the property that
C {C , B, D, A} S , or
S {C , C 2 , C 3 , C 4 }
Definition 12. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . If S x {x, x 2 , . . , x n , . . .}
for some x S , then S is called a cyclic semigroup.
Definition 13. Suppose that ( S ,g) is a semigroup and x S . If ( S \{x},g) is closed, then we
say that x is removable.
Exercise 8. Use the homework handout to list all subsemigroups having a removable element.