Abstract algebra is the study of algebraic objects. Some of the more common algebraic objects are groups, rings, fields, vector spaces, modules, and other advanced topics.

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“The Egg:” Bizarre behavior of the roots of a family of polynomials.

In this MO post, I ran into the following family of polynomials: $$f_n(x)=\sum_{m=0}^{n}\prod_{k=0}^{m-1}\frac{x^n-x^k}{x^m-x^k}.$$ In the context of the post, $x$ was a prime number, and $f_n(x)$ ...
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Nice examples of groups which are not obviously groups

I am searching for some groups, where it is not so obvious that they are groups. In the lectures script there are only examples like $\mathbb{Z}$ under addition and other things like that. I ...
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Can we ascertain that there exists an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H$?

Let $G,H$ be finite groups. Suppose we have an epimorphism $$G\times G\rightarrow H\times H$$ Can we find an epimorphism $G\rightarrow H$?
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How do I sell out with abstract algebra?

My plan as an undergraduate was unequivocally to be a pure mathematician, working as an algebraist as a bigshot professor at a bigshot university. I'm graduating this month, and I didn't get into ...
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Why are rings called rings?

I've done some search in Internet and other sources about this question. Why the name ring to this particular object? Just curiosity. Thanks.
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Does $R[x] \cong S[x]$ imply $R \cong S$?

This is a very simple question but I believe it's nontrivial. I would like to know if the following is true: If $R$ and $S$ are rings and $R[x]$ and $S[x]$ are isomorphic as rings, then $R$ and $S$ ...
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More than 99% of groups of order less than 2000 are of order 1024?

In Algebra: Chapter 0, the author made a remark (footnote on page 82), saying that more than 99% of groups of order less than 2000 are of order 1024. Is this for real? How can one deduce this result? ...
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Why do books titled “Abstract Algebra” mostly deal with groups/rings/fields?

As a computer science graduate who had only a basic course in abstract algebra, I want to study some abstract algebra in my free time. I've been looking through some books on the topic, and most seem ...
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How is a group made up of simple groups?

I've read more than once the analogy between simple groups and prime numbers, stating that any group is built up from simple groups, like any number is built from prime numbers. I've recently started ...
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How was the Monster's existence originally suspected?

I've read in many places that the Monster group was suspected to exist before it was actually proven to exist, and further that many of its properties were deduced contingent upon existence. For ...
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Why are groups more important than semigroups?

This is an open-ended question, as is probably obvious from the title. I understand that it may not be appreciated and I will try not to ask too many such questions. But this one has been bothering me ...
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Why “characteristic zero” and not “infinite characteristic”?

The characteristic of a ring (with unity, say) is the smallest positive number $n$ such that $$\underbrace{1 + 1 + \cdots + 1}_{n \text{ times}} = 0,$$ provided such an $n$ exists. Otherwise, we ...
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Why are the solutions of polynomial equations so unconstrained over the quaternions?

An $n$th-degree polynomial has at most $n$ distinct zeroes in the complex numbers. But it may have an uncountable set of zeroes in the quaternions. For example, $x^2+1$ has two zeroes in $\mathbb ...
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Intuition in algebra?

My algebra background: I've had 2 undergrad semesters of algebra, a reading course in Galois Theory, a graduate course in commutative algebra and one in algebraic geometry, and I've done (most of) ...
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What kind of “symmetry” is the symmetric group about?

There are two concepts which are very similar literally in abstract algebra: symmetric group and symmetry group. By definition, the symmetric group on a set is the group consisting of all bijections ...
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Are there real world applications of finite group theory?

I would like to know whether there are examples where finite group theory can be directly applied to solve real world problems outside of mathematics. (Sufficiently applied mathematics such as ...
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Is Lagrange's theorem the most basic result in finite group theory?

Motivated by this question, can one prove that the order of an element in a finite group divides the order of the group without using Lagrange's theorem? (Or, equivalently, that the order of the group ...
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Reference request for tricky problem in elementary group theory

The following could have shown up as an exercise in a basic Abstract Algebra text, and if anyone can give me a reference, I will be most grateful. Consider a set $X$ with an associative law of ...
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Algebra: Best mental images

I'm curious how people think of Algebras (in the universal sense, i.e., monoids, groups, rings, etc.). Cayley diagrams of groups with few generators are useful for thinking about group actions on ...
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$\sqrt a$ is either an integer or an irrational number.

I got this interesting question in my mind: How do we prove that if $a \in \mathbb N$, then $\sqrt a$ is an integer or an irrational number? Can we extend this result? That is, can it be shown ...
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The square roots of different primes are linearly independent over the field of rationals

I need to find a way of proving that the square roots of a finite set of different primes are linearly independent over the field of rationals. I've tried to solve the problem using ...
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When to learn category theory?

I'm a undergraduate who wishes to learn category theory but I only have basic knowledge of linear algebra and set theory, I've also had a short course on number theory which used some basic concepts ...
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Example of infinite field of characteristic $p\neq 0$

Can you give me an example of infinite field of characteristic $p\neq0$? Thanks.
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Algebraic Topology Challenge: Homology of an Infinite Wedge of Spheres

So the following comes to me from an old algebraic topology final that got the best of me. I wasn't able to prove it due to a lack of technical confidence, and my topology has only deteriorated since ...
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Abstract nonsense proof of snake lemma

During my studies, I always wanted to see a "purely category-theoretical" proof of the Snake Lemma, i.e. a proof that constructs all morphisms (including the snake) and proves exactness via universal ...
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What if $\pi$ was an algebraic number? (significance of algebraic numbers)

To be honest, I never really understood the importance of algebraic numbers. If we lived in an universe where $\pi$ was algebraic, would there be a palpable difference between that universe and ours? ...
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What kind of work do modern day algebraists do?

Often times in my studies I get the impression that algebra is just a tool to help with other branches of mathematics, like algebraic geometry, algebraic number theory, algebraic topology, etc. How ...
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Intuitive meaning of Exact Sequence

I'm currently learning about exact sequences in grad sch Algebra I course, but I really can't get the intuitive picture of the concept and why it is important at all. Can anyone explain them for me? ...
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Is $1+x+\frac{x^2}2+\dots+\frac{x^n}{n!}$ irreducible?

The polynomial $f(x)=1+x+\frac{x^2}2+\dots+\frac{x^n}{n!}$ often appears in algebra textbooks as an illustration for using derivative to test for multiple roots. Recently, I stumbled upon Example ...
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linear algebra over a division ring vs. over a field

When I was studying linear algebra in the first year, from what I remember, vector spaces were always defined over a field, which was in every single concrete example equal to either $\mathbb{R}$ or ...
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If $\lvert\operatorname{Hom}(H,G_1)\rvert = \lvert\operatorname{Hom}(H,G_2)\rvert$ for any $H$ then $G_1 \cong G_2$

Let $G_1$ and $G_2$ be two finite groups such that for any finite group $H$, $\lvert\operatorname{Hom}(H,G_1)\rvert = \lvert\operatorname{Hom}(H,G_2)\rvert$. How can I show that $G_1 \cong G_2$ ?
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A ring isomorphic to its finite polynomial rings but not to its infinite one.

I was messing with the ring $k[x_1,\dots,x_n,\dots]$ of polynomials in numerable many variables in order to solve an exercise of Atiyah, and the following question came to me and made me curious: ...
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Should I be worried that I am doing well in Analysis and not well in Algebra?

I attend a mostly liberal arts focused university, in which I was able to test out of an "Introduction to Proofs" class and directly into "Advanced Calculus 1" (Introductory Analysis I) and I loved ...
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In categorical terms, why is there no canonical isomorphism from a finite dimensional vector space to its dual?

I've read in several places that one motivation for category theory was to be able to give precise meaning to statements like, "finite dimensional vector spaces are canonically isomorphic to their ...
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Does there exist rational $a,b,c$, such that $\sqrt[3]{1}+\sqrt[3]{2}+\sqrt[3]{4}=\sqrt[3]{a}+\sqrt[3]{b}+\sqrt[3]{c}$

Let $w = \sqrt[3]{1}+\sqrt[3]{2}+\sqrt[3]{4}$. How to prove that there are no triples $(a,b,c)$, such that $a,b,c \in \mathbb{Q}$; $a \leqslant b \leqslant c$; $(a,b,c)\ne (1,2,4)$; $w = ...
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Is War necessarily finite?

War is an cardgame played by children and drunk college students which involves no strategic choices on either side. The outcome is determined by the dealing of the cards. These are the rules. A ...
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Quotient ring of Gaussian integers

A very basic ring theory question, which I am not able to solve. How does one show that $\mathbb{Z}[i]/(3-i) \cong \mathbb{Z}/10\mathbb{Z}$. Extending the result: $\mathbb{Z}[i]/(a-ib) \cong ...
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Examples of nonabelian groups.

Can anybody provide some examples of finite nonabelian groups which are not symmetric groups or dihedral groups?
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$\mathbb C[X]/(X^2)$ is isomorphic to $\mathbb R[Y]/((Y^2+1)^2)$

This question led me to the following: Prove that $\mathbb C[X]/(X^2)$ is isomorphic to $\mathbb R[Y]/((Y^2+1)^2)$.
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Appearance of Formal Derivative in Algebra

When studying polynomials, I know it is useful to introduce the concept of a formal derivative. For example, over a field, a polynomial has no repeated roots iff it and its formal derivative are ...
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Can someone explain the Yoneda Lemma to an applied mathematician?

I have trouble following the category-theoretic statement and proof of the Yoneda Lemma. Indeed, I followed a category theory course for 4-5 lectures (several years ago now) and felt like I understood ...
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What are exact sequences, metaphysically speaking?

Why is it natural or useful to organize objects (of some appropriate category) into exact sequences? Exact sequences are ubiquitous - and I've encountered them enough to know that they can provide a ...
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Why do we look at morphisms?

I am reading some lecture notes and in one paragraph there is the following motivation: "The best way to study spaces with a structure is usually to look at the maps between them preserving structure ...
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Intuition behind Snake Lemma

I've been struggling with this for some time. I can prove the Snake Lemma, but I don't really “understand” it. By that I mean if no one told me Snake Lemma existed, I would not even ...
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Why are the only division algebras over the real numbers the real numbers, the complex numbers, and the quaternions?

Why are the only (associative) division algebras over the real numbers the real numbers, the complex numbers, and the quaternions? Here a division algebra is an associative algebra where every ...
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Does multiplying polynomials ever decrease the number of terms?

Let $p$ and $q$ be polynomials (maybe in several variables, over a field), and suppose they have $m$ and $n$ non-zero terms respectively. We can assume $m\leq n$. Can it ever happen that the product ...
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How to find the Galois group of a polynomial?

I've been learning about Galois theory recently on my own, and I've been trying to solve tests from my university. Even though I understand all the theorems, I seem to be having some trouble with the ...
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An example of a division ring $D$ that is **not** isomorphic to its opposite ring

I recall reading in an abstract algebra text two years ago (when I had the pleasure to learn this beautiful subject) that there exists a division ring $D$ that is not isomorphic to its opposite ring. ...
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Universal binary operation and finite fields (ring)

Take Boolean Algebra for instance, the underlying finite field/ring $0, 1, \{AND, OR\}$ is equivalent to $ 0, 1, \{NAND\} $ or $ 0, 1, \{ NOR \}$ where NAND and NOR are considered as universal gates. ...
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Where does the word “torsion” in algebra come from?

Torsion is used to refer to elements of finite order under some binary operation. It doesn't seem to bear any relation to the ordinary everyday use of the word or with its use in differential geometry ...