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The term center or centre is used in various contexts in abstract algebra to denote the set of all those elements that commute with all other elements. It is often denoted Z, from German Zentrum, meaning "center". More specifically:
- The center of a group G consists of all those elements x in G such that xg = gx for all g in G. This is a normal subgroup of G.
- The center of a ring R is the subset of R consisting of all those elements x of R such that xr = rx for all r in R. The center is a commutative subring of R, and R is an algebra over its center.
- The center of an algebra A consists of all those elements x of A such that xa = ax for all a in A. See also: central simple algebra.
- The center of a Lie algebra L consists of all those elements x in L such that [x,a] = 0 for all a in L. This is an ideal of the Lie algebra L.
- The center of a monoidal category C consists of pairs (A,u) where A is an object of C, and a natural isomorphism satisfying certain axioms.
Modern Algebra, R. Durbin, 3rd edition (1992), page 118, exercise 22.22