TheInfoList

In
algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. In its most ge ... , the kernel of a
homomorphism In algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. I ...
(function that preserves the
structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. ...
) is generally the
inverse image In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ... of 0 (except for
groups A group is a number of people or things that are located, gathered, or classed together. Groups of people * Cultural group, a group whose members share the same cultural identity * Ethnic group, a group whose members share the same ethnic identi ...
whose operation is denoted multiplicatively, where the kernel is the inverse image of 1). An important special case is the kernel of a linear map. The
kernel of a matrix In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
, also called the ''null space'', is the kernel of the linear map defined by the matrix. The kernel of a homomorphism is reduced to 0 (or 1) if and only if the homomorphism is
injective In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ... , that is if the inverse image of every element consists of a single element. This means that the kernel can be viewed as a measure of the degree to which the homomorphism fails to be injective.See and . For some types of structure, such as
abelian group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
s and
vector space In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
s, the possible kernels are exactly the substructures of the same type. This is not always the case, and, sometimes, the possible kernels have received a special name, such as
normal subgroup In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
for groups and two-sided ideals for
rings Ring most commonly refers either to a hollow circular shape or to a high-pitched sound. It thus may refer to: *Ring (jewellery), a circular, decorative or symbolic ornament worn on fingers, toes, arm or neck Ring may also refer to: Sounds * Ri ...
. Kernels allow defining
quotient objectIn category theory Category theory formalizes mathematical structure and its concepts in terms of a Graph labeling, labeled directed graph called a ''Category (mathematics), category'', whose nodes are called ''objects'', and whose labelled dire ...
s (also called quotient algebras in
universal algebraUniversal algebra (sometimes called general algebra) is the field of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geomet ...
, and
cokernel The cokernel of a linear mapping of vector spaces is the quotient space of the codomain of by the image of . The dimension of the cokernel is called the ''corank'' of . Cokernels are dual to the kernels of category theory, hence the nam ... s in
category theory Category theory formalizes mathematical structure In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ...
). For many types of algebraic structure, the
fundamental theorem on homomorphisms In abstract algebra, the fundamental theorem on homomorphisms, also known as the fundamental homomorphism theorem, relates the structure of two objects between which a homomorphism is given, and of the Kernel (algebra), kernel and image of the hom ...
(or
first isomorphism theorem In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, the isomorphism theorems (also known as Noether's isomorphism theorems) are theorems that describe the relationship between quotients, homomorphisms, and subobjects. Versions of the theorems exist for ... ) states that
image An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, sco ...
of a homomorphism is
isomorphic In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ... to the quotient by the kernel. The concept of a kernel has been extended to structures such that the inverse image of a single element is not sufficient for deciding whether an homomorphism is injective. In these cases, the kernel is a
congruence relation In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics) ...

# Survey of examples

## Linear maps

Let ''V'' and ''W'' be
vector space In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
s over a
field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlefield * Lawn, an area of mowed grass * Meadow, a grassl ...
(or more generally,
modules Broadly speaking, modularity is the degree to which a system's components may be separated and recombined, often with the benefit of flexibility and variety in use. The concept of modularity is used primarily to reduce complexity by breaking a syst ...
over a ring) and let ''T'' be a
linear map In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ... from ''V'' to ''W''. If 0''W'' is the
zero vector In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
of ''W'', then the kernel of ''T'' is the
preimage In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
of the zero subspace ; that is, the
subset In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ... of ''V'' consisting of all those elements of ''V'' that are mapped by ''T'' to the element 0''W''. The kernel is usually denoted as , or some variation thereof: :$\ker T = \ .$ Since a linear map preserves zero vectors, the zero vector 0''V'' of ''V'' must belong to the kernel. The transformation ''T'' is injective if and only if its kernel is reduced to the zero subspace. The kernel ker ''T'' is always a
linear subspace In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
of ''V''. Thus, it makes sense to speak of the quotient space ''V''/(ker ''T''). The first isomorphism theorem for vector spaces states that this quotient space is
naturally isomorphic In category theory, a branch of mathematics, a natural transformation provides a way of transforming one functor into another while respecting the internal structure (i.e., the composition of morphisms) of the Category (mathematics), categories invo ...
to the
image An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, sco ...
of ''T'' (which is a subspace of ''W''). As a consequence, the
dimension In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...
of ''V'' equals the dimension of the kernel plus the dimension of the image. If ''V'' and ''W'' are
finite-dimensional In mathematics, the dimension of a vector space ''V'' is the cardinality (i.e. the number of vectors) of a Basis (linear algebra), basis of ''V'' over its base Field (mathematics), field. p. 44, §2.36 It is sometimes called Hamel dimension (after ...
and bases have been chosen, then ''T'' can be described by a
matrix Matrix or MATRIX may refer to: Science and mathematics * Matrix (mathematics), a rectangular array of numbers, symbols, or expressions * Matrix (logic), part of a formula in prenex normal form * Matrix (biology), the material in between a eukaryoti ...
''M'', and the kernel can be computed by solving the homogeneous
system of linear equations In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
. In this case, the kernel of ''T'' may be identified to the kernel of the matrix ''M'', also called "null space" of ''M''. The dimension of the null space, called the nullity of ''M'', is given by the number of columns of ''M'' minus the
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "rank ...
of ''M'', as a consequence of the
rank–nullity theorem The rank–nullity theorem is a theorem in linear algebra Linear algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning linear equations such as: :a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n=b, linear maps such as: :(x_1, \ldots, x_n) \mapsto a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n, and ...
. Solving
homogeneous differential equation A differential equation In mathematics, a differential equation is an functional equation, equation that relates one or more function (mathematics), functions and their derivatives. In applications, the functions generally represent physical qua ...
s often amounts to computing the kernel of certain
differential operator 300px, A harmonic function defined on an annulus. Harmonic functions are exactly those functions which lie in the kernel of the Laplace operator, an important differential operator. In mathematics, a differential operator is an Operator (mathe ...
s. For instance, in order to find all twice-
differentiable function In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ... s ''f'' from the
real line In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
to itself such that :$x f\text{'}\text{'}\left(x\right) + 3 f\text{'}\left(x\right) = f\left(x\right),$ let ''V'' be the space of all twice differentiable functions, let ''W'' be the space of all functions, and define a linear operator ''T'' from ''V'' to ''W'' by :$\left(Tf\right)\left(x\right) = x f\text{'}\text{'}\left(x\right) + 3 f\text{'}\left(x\right) - f\left(x\right)$ for ''f'' in ''V'' and ''x'' an arbitrary
real number In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...
. Then all solutions to the differential equation are in ker ''T''. One can define kernels for homomorphisms between modules over a ring in an analogous manner. This includes kernels for homomorphisms between
abelian group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
s as a special case. This example captures the essence of kernels in general
abelian categories In mathematics, an abelian category is a Category (mathematics), category in which morphisms and Object (category theory), objects can be added and in which Kernel (category theory), kernels and cokernels exist and have desirable properties. The mot ...
; see
Kernel (category theory) In category theory and its applications to other branches of mathematics, kernels are a generalization of the kernels of group homomorphisms, the kernels of module homomorphisms and certain other kernel (algebra), kernels from algebra. Intuitivel ...
.

## Group homomorphisms

Let ''G'' and ''H'' be
group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with ...
s and let ''f'' be a
group homomorphism In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no ge ... from ''G'' to ''H''. If ''e''''H'' is the
identity element In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ...
of ''H'', then the ''kernel'' of ''f'' is the preimage of the singleton set ; that is, the subset of ''G'' consisting of all those elements of ''G'' that are mapped by ''f'' to the element ''e''''H''. The kernel is usually denoted (or a variation). In symbols: : $\ker f = \ .$ Since a group homomorphism preserves identity elements, the identity element ''e''''G'' of ''G'' must belong to the kernel. The homomorphism ''f'' is injective if and only if its kernel is only the singleton set . If ''f'' were not injective, then the non-injective elements can form a distinct element of its kernel: there would exist $a, b \in G$ such that $a \neq b$ and $f\left(a\right) = f\left(b\right)$. Thus $f\left(a\right)f\left(b\right)^ = e_H$. ''f'' is a group homomorphism, so inverses and group operations are preserved, giving $f\left\left(ab^\right\right) = e_H$; in other words, $ab^ \in \ker f$, and ker ''f'' would not be the singleton. Conversely, distinct elements of the kernel violate injectivity directly: if there would exist an element $g \neq e_G \in \ker f$, then $f\left(g\right) = f\left(e_G\right) = e_H$, thus ''f'' would not be injective. is a
subgroup In group theory, a branch of mathematics, given a group (mathematics), group ''G'' under a binary operation ∗, a subset ''H'' of ''G'' is called a subgroup of ''G'' if ''H'' also forms a group under the operation ∗. More precisely ...
of ''G'' and further it is a
normal subgroup In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
. Thus, there is a corresponding
quotient group A quotient group or factor group is a mathematical group (mathematics), group obtained by aggregating similar elements of a larger group using an equivalence relation that preserves some of the group structure (the rest of the structure is "factore ...
. This is isomorphic to ''f''(''G''), the image of ''G'' under ''f'' (which is a subgroup of ''H'' also), by the
first isomorphism theorem In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, the isomorphism theorems (also known as Noether's isomorphism theorems) are theorems that describe the relationship between quotients, homomorphisms, and subobjects. Versions of the theorems exist for ...
for groups. In the special case of
abelian group In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
s, there is no deviation from the previous section.

### Example

Let ''G'' be the
cyclic group In group theory The popular puzzle Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik has been used as an illustration of permutation group">Ernő_Rubik.html" ;"title="Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik">Rubik's cube invented in 1974 by Er ... on 6 elements with modular addition, ''H'' be the cyclic on 2 elements with modular addition, and ''f'' the homomorphism that maps each element ''g'' in ''G'' to the element ''g'' modulo 2 in ''H''. Then , since all these elements are mapped to 0''H''. The quotient group has two elements: and . It is indeed isomorphic to ''H''.

## Ring homomorphisms

Let ''R'' and ''S'' be rings (assumed unital) and let ''f'' be a
ring homomorphism In ring theory, a branch of abstract algebra, a ring homomorphism is a structure-preserving function (mathematics), function between two ring (algebra), rings. More explicitly, if ''R'' and ''S'' are rings, then a ring homomorphism is a function s ...
from ''R'' to ''S''. If 0''S'' is the
zero element In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
of ''S'', then the ''kernel'' of ''f'' is its kernel as linear map over the integers, or, equivalently, as additive groups. It is the preimage of the
zero ideal In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
, which is, the subset of ''R'' consisting of all those elements of ''R'' that are mapped by ''f'' to the element 0''S''. The kernel is usually denoted (or a variation). In symbols: : $\operatorname f = \\mbox$ Since a ring homomorphism preserves zero elements, the zero element 0''R'' of ''R'' must belong to the kernel. The homomorphism ''f'' is injective if and only if its kernel is only the singleton set . This is always the case if ''R'' is a
field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlefield * Lawn, an area of mowed grass * Meadow, a grassl ...
, and ''S'' is not the
zero ring In ring theory In algebra, ring theory is the study of ring (mathematics), rings—algebraic structures in which addition and multiplication are defined and have similar properties to those operations defined for the integers. Ring theory studies ...
. Since ker ''f'' contains the multiplicative identity only when ''S'' is the zero ring, it turns out that the kernel is generally not a
subring In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
of ''R.'' The kernel is a sub rng, and, more precisely, a two-sided
ideal Ideal may refer to: Philosophy * Ideal (ethics) An ideal is a principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting ...
of ''R''. Thus, it makes sense to speak of the
quotient ring In ring theory In algebra, ring theory is the study of ring (mathematics), rings—algebraic structures in which addition and multiplication are defined and have similar properties to those operations defined for the integers. Ring theory studie ...
''R''/(ker ''f''). The first isomorphism theorem for rings states that this quotient ring is naturally isomorphic to the image of ''f'' (which is a subring of ''S''). (Note that rings need not be unital for the kernel definition). To some extent, this can be thought of as a special case of the situation for modules, since these are all
bimoduleIn abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ri ...
s over a ring ''R'': * ''R'' itself; * any two-sided ideal of ''R'' (such as ker ''f''); * any quotient ring of ''R'' (such as ''R''/(ker ''f'')); and * the
codomain In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ... of any ring homomorphism whose domain is ''R'' (such as ''S'', the codomain of ''f''). However, the isomorphism theorem gives a stronger result, because ring isomorphisms preserve multiplication while module isomorphisms (even between rings) in general do not. This example captures the essence of kernels in general Mal'cev algebras.

## Monoid homomorphisms

Let ''M'' and ''N'' be
monoid In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathemati ...
s and let ''f'' be a
monoid homomorphism In abstract algebra, a branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (ma ...
from ''M'' to ''N''. Then the ''kernel'' of ''f'' is the subset of the
direct productIn mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...
consisting of all those
ordered pair In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ... s of elements of ''M'' whose components are both mapped by ''f'' to the same element in ''N''. The kernel is usually denoted (or a variation thereof). In symbols: : $\operatorname f = \left\.$ Since ''f'' is a
function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
, the elements of the form must belong to the kernel. The homomorphism ''f'' is injective if and only if its kernel is only the diagonal set . It turns out that is an
equivalence relation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
on ''M'', and in fact a
congruence relation In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics) ...
. Thus, it makes sense to speak of the
quotient monoid In mathematics, a semigroup is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an associative binary operation In mathematics, a binary operation or dyadic operation is a calculation that combines two elements (called operands) to pr ...
. The first isomorphism theorem for monoids states that this quotient monoid is naturally isomorphic to the image of ''f'' (which is a
submonoid In abstract algebra, a branch of mathematics, a monoid is a set equipped with an associative binary operation and an identity element. Monoids are semigroups with identity. Such algebraic structures occur in several branches of mathematics. ...
of ''N''; for the congruence relation). This is very different in flavour from the above examples. In particular, the preimage of the identity element of ''N'' is ''not'' enough to determine the kernel of ''f''.

# Universal algebra

All the above cases may be unified and generalized in
universal algebraUniversal algebra (sometimes called general algebra) is the field of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geomet ...
.

## General case

Let ''A'' and ''B'' be
algebraic structure In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
s of a given type and let ''f'' be a homomorphism of that type from ''A'' to ''B''. Then the ''kernel'' of ''f'' is the subset of the
direct productIn mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...
''A'' × ''A'' consisting of all those
ordered pair In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ... s of elements of ''A'' whose components are both mapped by ''f'' to the same element in ''B''. The kernel is usually denoted (or a variation). In symbols: : $\operatorname f = \left\\mbox$ Since ''f'' is a
function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
, the elements of the form (''a'', ''a'') must belong to the kernel. The homomorphism ''f'' is injective if and only if its kernel is exactly the diagonal set . It is easy to see that ker ''f'' is an
equivalence relation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
on ''A'', and in fact a
congruence relation In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics) ...
. Thus, it makes sense to speak of the quotient algebra ''A''/(ker ''f''). The
first isomorphism theorem In mathematics, specifically abstract algebra, the isomorphism theorems (also known as Noether's isomorphism theorems) are theorems that describe the relationship between quotients, homomorphisms, and subobjects. Versions of the theorems exist for ... in general universal algebra states that this quotient algebra is naturally isomorphic to the image of ''f'' (which is a
subalgebraIn mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...
of ''B''). Note that the definition of kernel here (as in the monoid example) doesn't depend on the algebraic structure; it is a purely set-theoretic concept. For more on this general concept, outside of abstract algebra, see kernel of a function.

## Malcev algebras

In the case of Malcev algebras, this construction can be simplified. Every Malcev algebra has a special
neutral element In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
(the
zero vector In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
in the case of
vector space In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...
s, the
identity element In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and th ...
in the case of
commutative group In mathematics, an abelian group, also called a commutative group, is a group (mathematics), group in which the result of applying the group Operation (mathematics), operation to two group elements does not depend on the order in which they are ...
s, and the
zero element In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
in the case of rings or modules). The characteristic feature of a Malcev algebra is that we can recover the entire equivalence relation ker ''f'' from the
equivalence class In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
of the neutral element. To be specific, let ''A'' and ''B'' be Malcev algebraic structures of a given type and let ''f'' be a homomorphism of that type from ''A'' to ''B''. If ''e''''B'' is the neutral element of ''B'', then the ''kernel'' of ''f'' is the
preimage In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
of the
singleton set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
; that is, the
subset In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ... of ''A'' consisting of all those elements of ''A'' that are mapped by ''f'' to the element ''e''''B''. The kernel is usually denoted (or a variation). In symbols: : $\operatorname f = \\mbox$ Since a Malcev algebra homomorphism preserves neutral elements, the identity element ''e''''A'' of ''A'' must belong to the kernel. The homomorphism ''f'' is injective if and only if its kernel is only the singleton set . The notion of
ideal Ideal may refer to: Philosophy * Ideal (ethics) An ideal is a principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting ...
generalises to any Malcev algebra (as
linear subspace In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
in the case of vector spaces,
normal subgroup In abstract algebra In algebra, which is a broad division of mathematics, abstract algebra (occasionally called modern algebra) is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include group (mathematics), groups, ring (mathematics), ...
in the case of groups, two-sided ideals in the case of rings, and
submodule In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
in the case of
module Module, modular and modularity may refer to the concept of modularity. They may also refer to: Computing and engineering * Modular design, the engineering discipline of designing complex devices using separately designed sub-components * Modula ...
s). It turns out that ker ''f'' is not a
subalgebraIn mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...
of ''A'', but it is an ideal. Then it makes sense to speak of the quotient algebra ''G''/(ker ''f''). The first isomorphism theorem for Malcev algebras states that this quotient algebra is naturally isomorphic to the image of ''f'' (which is a subalgebra of ''B''). The connection between this and the congruence relation for more general types of algebras is as follows. First, the kernel-as-an-ideal is the equivalence class of the neutral element ''e''''A'' under the kernel-as-a-congruence. For the converse direction, we need the notion of
quotient In arithmetic Arithmetic (from the Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:en:ἀριθμός#Ancient Greek, ἀριθμός ''arithmos'', 'number' and wikt:en:τική#Ancient Greek, τική wikt:en:τέχνη#Ancient Greek, �έχνη ''tiké échne' ...
in the Mal'cev algebra (which is
division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting ...
on either side for groups and
subtraction Subtraction is an arithmetic operation that represents the operation of removing objects from a collection. Subtraction is signified by the minus sign, . For example, in the adjacent picture, there are peaches—meaning 5 peaches with 2 taken ... for vector spaces, modules, and rings). Using this, elements ''a'' and ''b'' of ''A'' are equivalent under the kernel-as-a-congruence if and only if their quotient ''a''/''b'' is an element of the kernel-as-an-ideal.

# Algebras with nonalgebraic structure

Sometimes algebras are equipped with a nonalgebraic structure in addition to their algebraic operations. For example, one may consider
topological group In mathematics, topological groups are logically the combination of Group (mathematics), groups and Topological space, topological spaces, i.e. they are groups and topological spaces at the same time, such that the Continuous function, continui ...
s or
topological vector space In mathematics, a topological vector space (also called a linear topological space and commonly abbreviated TVS or t.v.s.) is one of the basic structures investigated in functional analysis. A topological vector space is a vector space (an Abstra ...
s, with are equipped with a
topology In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities ...
. In this case, we would expect the homomorphism ''f'' to preserve this additional structure; in the topological examples, we would want ''f'' to be a
continuous map In mathematics, a continuous function is a function (mathematics), function such that a continuous variation (that is a change without jump) of the argument of a function, argument induces a continuous variation of the Value (mathematics), value o ...
. The process may run into a snag with the quotient algebras, which may not be well-behaved. In the topological examples, we can avoid problems by requiring that topological algebraic structures be
Hausdorff (as is usually done); then the kernel (however it is constructed) will be a
closed set In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of ...
and the quotient space will work fine (and also be Hausdorff).

# Kernels in category theory

The notion of ''kernel'' in
category theory Category theory formalizes mathematical structure In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ...
is a generalisation of the kernels of abelian algebras; see
Kernel (category theory) In category theory and its applications to other branches of mathematics, kernels are a generalization of the kernels of group homomorphisms, the kernels of module homomorphisms and certain other kernel (algebra), kernels from algebra. Intuitivel ...
. The categorical generalisation of the kernel as a congruence relation is the ''
kernel pair In category theory, a regular category is a category with limit (category theory), finite limits and coequalizers of a pair of morphisms called kernel pairs, satisfying certain ''exactness'' conditions. In that way, regular categories recapture many ...
''. (There is also the notion of difference kernel, or binary equalizer (mathematics), equaliser.)