Algebraic operation

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$n$-ary operation, on a set $A$

A mapping

$$\omega:A^n\to A$$

of the $n$-th Cartesian power of the set $A$ into the set $A$ itself. The number $n$ is known as the arity of the algebraic operation. Historically, the concepts of binary $(n=2)$ and unary ($n=1$) operations were the first to be considered. Nullary $(n=0)$ operations are fixed elements of the set $A$; they are also known as distinguished elements or constants. In the 20th century the concept of an infinitary operation appeared, i.e. a mapping $\omega:A^\alpha\to A$, where $\alpha$ is an arbitrary cardinal number. A set with a system of algebraic operations defined on it is called a universal algebra.


The study of infinitary operations actually started in the late 1950s [a1]. A nullary operation is also called a noughtary operation [a2].


[a1] J. Stominski, "The theory of abstract algebras with infinitary operations" Rozprawy Mat. , 18 (1959)
[a2] P.M. Cohn, "Universal algebra" , Reidel (1981) pp. 13–14
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