for all x and y in A.
A composition algebra includes an involution called a conjugation: x → x*. The quadratic form N(x) = x x*, and is often called the norm of the algebra.
A composition algebra(A, *, N) is either a division algebra or a split algebra, depending on the existence of a non-zero v in A, such that N(v) = 0, called a null vector. In case there are no null vectors, the multiplicative inverse of x is x*/N(x), so the algebra is a division algebra. When there is a null vector, N is an isotropic quadratic form, and "the algebra splits".
Every unital composition algebra over a field K can be obtained by repeated application of the Cayley–Dickson construction starting from K (if the characteristic of K is different from 2) or a 2-dimensional composition subalgebra (if char(K) = 2). The possible dimensions of a composition algebra are 1, 2, 4, and 8.
- 1-dimensional composition algebras only exist when char(K) ≠ 2.
- Composition algebras of dimension 1 and 2 are commutative and associative.
- Composition algebras of dimension 2 are either quadratic field extensions of K or isomorphic to K ⊕ K.
- Composition algebras of dimension 4 are called quaternion algebras. They are associative but not commutative.
- Composition algebras of dimension 8 are called octonion algebras. They are neither associative nor commutative.
For consistent terminology, algebras of dimension 1 have been called unarion, and those of dimension 2 binarion.
Instances and usage
When the field K is taken to be complex numbers C and the quadratic form z2, then the four composition algebras over C are C itself, the bicomplex numbers, the biquaternions (isomorphic to the 2×2 complex matrix ring M(2, C)), and the bioctonions C⊗O, which are also called complex octonions.
The squaring function N(x) = x2 on the real number field forms the primordial composition algebra. When the field K is taken to be real numbers R, then there are just six other real composition algebras.:166 In two, four, and eight dimensions there are both a "split algebra" and a "division algebra":
- binarions: complex numbers with form x2 + y2 and split-complex numbers with form x2 − y2,
- quaternions and split-quaternions,
- octonions and split-octonions.
The composition of sums of squares was noted by several early authors. Diophantus was aware of the identity involving the sum of two squares, now called the Brahmagupta-Fibonacci identity, which is also articulated as a property of Euclidean norms of complex numbers when multiplied. Leonhard Euler discussed the four-square identity in 1748, and it led W. R. Hamilton to construct his four-dimensional algebra of quaternions.:62 In 1848 tessarines were described giving first light to bicomplex numbers.
- Historically, the first non-associative algebra, the Cayley numbers ... arose in the context of the number-theoretic problem of quadratic forms permitting composition…this number-theoretic question can be transformed into one concerning certain algebraic systems, the composition algebras...:61
In 1919 Leonard Dickson advanced the study of the Hurwitz problem with a survey of efforts to that date, and by exhibiting the method of doubling the quaternions to obtain Cayley numbers. He introduced a new imaginary unit e, and for quaternions q and Q writes a Cayley number q + Qe. Denoting the quaternion conjugate by q', the product of two Cayley numbers is
The conjugate of a Cayley number is q' – Qe, and the quadratic form is obtained by multiplying the number by its conjugate. The doubling method has come to be called the Cayley–Dickson construction.
In 1931 Max Zorn introduced a gamma (γ) into the multiplication rule in the Dickson construction to generate split-octonions. Adrian Albert also used the gamma in 1942 when he showed that Dickson doubling could be applied to any field with the squaring function to construct binarion, quaternion, and octonion algebras with their quadratic forms. Nathan Jacobson described the automorphisms of composition algebras in 1958.
The classical composition algebras over ℝ and ℂ are unital algebras. Composition algebras without a multiplicative identity were found by H.P. Petersson (Petersson algebras) and Susumu Okubo (Okubo algebras) and others.:463–81
- Springer, T. A.; F. D. Veldkamp (2000). Octonions, Jordan Algebras and Exceptional Groups. Springer-Verlag. p. 18. ISBN 3-540-66337-1.
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- Max Zorn (1931) "Alternativekörper und quadratische Systeme", Abhandlungen aus dem Mathematischen Seminar der Universität Hamburg 9(3/4): 395–402
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