You are here
Homeoperation
Primary tabs
operation
According to the dictionary Webster’s 1913, which can be accessed through HyperDictionary.com, mathematical meaning of the word operation is: “some transformation to be made upon quantities”. Thus, operation is similar to mapping or function. The most general mathematical definition of operation can be made as follows:
Definition 1.
Operation $\#$ defined on the sets $X_{1},X_{2},\ldots,X_{n}$ with values in $X$ is a mapping from Cartesian product $X_{1}\times X_{2}\times\cdots\times X_{n}$ to $X$, i.e.
$\#\colon X_{1}\times X_{2}\times\cdots\times X_{n}\longrightarrow X.$ 
Result of operation is usually denoted by one of the following notation:

$x_{1}\#x_{2}\#\cdots\#x_{n}$

$\#(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})$

$(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})_{\#}$
The following examples show variety of the concept operation used in mathematics.
Examples
1. Arithmetic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Their generalization leads to the socalled binary operations, which is a basic concept for such algebraic structures as groups and rings.
2. Operations on vectors in the plane ($\mathbb{R}^{2}$).

Multiplication by a scalar. Generalization leads to vector spaces.

Scalar product. Generalization leads to Hilbert spaces.

3. Operations on vectors in the space ($\mathbb{R}^{3}$).

Cross product. Can be generalized for the vector space of arbitrary finite dimension, see vector product in general vector spaces.

Triple product.

4. Some operations on functions.

Composition.

Function inverse.

In the case when some of the sets $X_{i}$ are equal to the values set $X$, it is usually said that operation is defined just on $X$. For such operations, it could be interesting to consider their action on some subset $U\subset X$. In particular, if operation on elements from $U$ always gives an element from $U$, it is said that $U$ is closed under this operation. Formally it is expressed in the following definition.
Definition 2.
Let operation $\#\colon X_{1}\times X_{2}\times\cdots\times X_{n}\longrightarrow X$ is defined on $X$, i.e. there exists $k\geq 1$ and indexes $1\leq j_{1}<j_{2}<\cdots<j_{k}\leq n$ such that $X_{{j_{1}}}=X_{{j_{2}}}=\cdots=X_{{j_{k}}}=X$. For simplicity, let us assume that $j_{i}=i$. A subset $U\subset X$ is said to be closed under operation $\#$ if for all $u_{1},u_{2},\ldots,u_{k}$ from U and for all $x_{j}\in X_{j}\,j>k$ holds:
$\#(u_{1},u_{2},\ldots,u_{k},x_{{k+1}},x_{{k+2}},\ldots,x_{n})\in U.$ 
The next examples illustrates this definition.
Examples
1. Vector space $V$ over a field $K$ is a set, on which the following two operations are defined:

multiplication by a scalar:
$\cdot\colon K\times V\longrightarrow V$ 
$+\colon V\times V\longrightarrow V.$
Of course these operations need to satisfy some properties (for details see the entry vector space). A subset $W\subset V$, which is closed under these operations, is called vector subspace.

2. Consider collection of all subsets of the real numbers $\mathbb{R}$, which we denote by $2^{\mathbb{R}}$. On this collection, binary operation intersection of sets is defined:
$\cap\colon 2^{\mathbb{R}}\times 2^{\mathbb{R}}\longrightarrow 2^{\mathbb{R}}.$ Collection of sets $\mathfrak{C}\subset 2^{\mathbb{R}}$:
$\mathfrak{C}:=\{[a,b)\colon\,a\leq b\}$ is closed under this operation.
Mathematics Subject Classification
03E20 no label found Forums
 Planetary Bugs
 HS/Secondary
 University/Tertiary
 Graduate/Advanced
 Industry/Practice
 Research Topics
 LaTeX help
 Math Comptetitions
 Math History
 Math Humor
 PlanetMath Comments
 PlanetMath System Updates and News
 PlanetMath help
 PlanetMath.ORG
 Strategic Communications Development
 The Math Pub
 Testing messages (ignore)
 Other useful stuff
 Corrections
Corrections
quote marks should look like ``this'' by jac ✓
use \cdots by Mathprof ✓
capitalization by Mathprof ✓