In
abstract algebra, a
ring homomorphism is a
function between two
rings which respects the operations of addition and multiplication. If
R and
S are rings and
f :
R -> S is a function, we require
- f(a + b) = f(a) + f(b) for all a and b in R
- f(ab) = f(a) f(b) for all a and b in R
- f(1) = 1
Directly from these definitions, one can deduce:
- f(0) = 0
- f(-a) = -f(a)
- If a has a multiplicative inverse in R, then f(a) has a multiplicative inverse in S and we have f(a^{-1}) = (f(a))^{-1}. Therefore, f induces a group homomorphism from the group of units of R to the group of units of S.
- The kernel of f, defined as ker(f) = {a in R : f(a) = 0} is an ideal in R. Every ideal in R arises from some ring homomorphism in this way. f is injective if and only if the ker(f) = {0}.
- If f is bijective, then its inverse f^{ -1} is also a ring homomorphism. f is called an isomorphism in this case, and the rings R and S are called isomorphic. From the standpoint of ring theory, isomorphic rings cannot be distinguished.
- If R_{p} is the smallest subring contained in R and S_{p} is the smallest subring contained in S, then every ring homomorphism f : R -> S induces a ring homomorphism f_{p} : R_{p} -> S_{p}. This can sometimes be used to show that between certain rings R and S, no ring homomorphisms R -> S can exist.
- The composition of two ring homomorphisms is a ring homomorphism; the class of all rings together with the ring homomorphisms forms a category.
- The function f : Z -> Z_{n}, defined by f(a) = [a]_{n} = a mod n is a surjective ring homomorphism with kernel nZ (see modular arithmetic).
- There is no ring homomorphism Z_{n} -> Z.
- If R[X] denotes the ring of all polynomials in the variable X with coefficients in the real numbers R, and C denotes the complex numbers, then the function f : R[X] -> C defined by f(p) = p(i) (substitute the imaginary unit i for the variable X in the polynomial p) is a surjective ring homomorphism. The kernel of f consists of all polynomials in R[X] which are divisible by X^{2} - 1.
- If f : R -> S is a ring homomorphism between the commutative rings R and S, then f induces a ring homomorphism between the matrix rings M_{n}(R) -> M_{n}(S).
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