In mathematics, a graded vector space is a type of vector space that includes the extra structure of a grading or a gradation, which is a decomposition of the vector space into a direct sum of vector subspaces.

Let $\mathbb{N}$ be the set of non-negative integers. An $\mathbb{N}$-graded vector space, often called simply a graded vector space without the prefix $\mathbb{N}$, is a vector space V which decomposes into a direct sum of the form

$V = \bigoplus_{n \in \mathbb{N}} V_n$

where each $V_n$ is a vector space. For a given n the elements of $V_n$ are then called homogeneous elements of degree n.

Graded vector spaces are common. For example the set of all polynomials in one variable form a graded vector space, where the homogeneous elements of degree n are exactly the linear combinations of monomials of degree n.

The subspaces of a graded vector space need not be indexed by the set of natural numbers, and may be indexed by the elements of any set I. An I-graded vector space V is a vector space that can be written as a direct sum of subspaces indexed by elements i of set I:

$V = \bigoplus_{i \in I} V_i.$

Therefore, an $\mathbb{N}$-graded vector space, as defined above, is just an I-graded vector space where the set I is $\mathbb{N}$ (the set of natural numbers).

The case where I is the ring $\mathbb{Z}/2\mathbb{Z}$ (the elements 0 and 1) is particularly important in physics. A $(\mathbb{Z}/2\mathbb{Z})$-graded vector space is also known as a supervector space.

Linear maps

For general index sets I, a linear map between two I-graded vector spaces f:VW is called a graded linear map if it preserves the grading of homogeneous elements:

$f(V_i)\subseteq W_i$ for all i in I.

When I is a commutative monoid (such as the natural numbers), then one may more generally define linear maps that are homogeneous of any degree i in I by the property

$f(V_j)\subseteq W_{i+j}$ for all j in I,

where "+" denotes the monoid operation. If moreover I satisfies the cancellation property so that it can be embedded into a commutative group A which it generates (for instance the integers if I is the natural numbers), then one may also define linear maps that are homogeneous of degree i in A by the same property (but now "+" denotes the group operation in A). In particular for i in I a linear map will be homogeneous of degree −i if

$f(V_{i+j})\subseteq W_j$ for all j in I, while
$f(V_j)=0\,$ if ji is not in I.

Just as the set of linear maps from a vector space to itself forms an associative algebra (the algebra of endomorphisms of the vector space), the sets of homogeneous linear maps from a space to itself, either restricting degrees to I or allowing any degrees in the group A, form associative graded algebras over those index sets.

Some operations on vector spaces can be defined for graded vector spaces as well.

Given two I-graded vector spaces V and W, their direct sum has underlying vector space VW with gradation

(VW)i = ViWi .

If I is a semigroup, then the tensor product of two I-graded vector spaces V and W is another I-graded vector space, $V \otimes W$ with gradation

$(V \otimes W)_i = \bigoplus_{\{j,k|j+k=i\}} V_j \otimes W_k.$