Identity function

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Not to be confused with Null function or Empty function.

In mathematics, an identity function, also called an identity relation or identity map or identity transformation, is a function that always returns the same value that was used as its argument. In terms of equations, the function is given by f(x) = x.


Formally, if M is a set, the identity function f on M is defined to be that function with domain and codomain M which satisfies

f(x) = x    for all elements x in M.

In other words, the function assigns to each element x of M the element x of M.

The identity function f on M is often denoted by idM.

In terms of set theory, where a function is defined as a particular kind of binary relation, the identity function is given by the identity relation, or diagonal of M.

Algebraic property[edit]

If f : M → N is any function, then we have f o idM = f = idN o f (where "o" denotes function composition). In particular, idM is the identity element of the monoid of all functions from M to M.

Since the identity element of a monoid is unique, one can alternately define the identity function on M to be this identity element. Such a definition generalizes to the concept of an identity morphism in category theory, where the endomorphisms of M need not be functions.


See also[edit]