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In mathematics, a subring of R is a subset of a ring that is itself a ring when binary operations of addition and multiplication on R are restricted to the subset, and which shares the same multiplicative identity as R. (Note that a subset of a ring R need not be a ring.) For those who define rings without requiring the existence of a multiplicative identity, a subring of R is just a subset of R that is a ring for the operations of R (this does imply it contains the additive identity of R). The latter gives a strictly weaker condition, even for rings that do have a multiplicative identity, so that for instance all ideals become subrings (and they may have a multiplicative identity that differs from the one of R). With definition requiring a multiplicative identity (which is used in this article), the only ideal of R that is a subring of R is R itself.


A subring of a ring (R, +, ∗, 0, 1) is a subset S of R that preserves the structure of the ring, i.e. a ring (S, +, ∗, 0, 1) with SR. Equivalently, it is both a subgroup of (R, +, 0) and a submonoid of (R, ∗, 1).


The ring and its quotients have no subrings (with multiplicative identity) other than the full ring.[1]: 228 

Every ring has a unique smallest subring, isomorphic to some ring with n a nonnegative integer (see Characteristic). The integers correspond to n = 0 in this statement, since is isomorphic to .[2]: 89–90 

Subring test[edit]

The subring test is a theorem that states that for any ring R, a subset S of R is a subring if and only if it contains the multiplicative identity of R, and is closed under multiplication and subtraction.[1]: 228 

As an example, the ring Z of integers is a subring of the field of real numbers and also a subring of the ring of polynomials Z[X].


The center of a ring is the set of the elements of the ring that commute with every other element of the ring. That is, x belongs to the center of the ring R if for every

The center of a ring R is a subring of R, and R is an associative algebra over its center.

Prime subring[edit]

The intersection of all subrings of a ring R is a subring that may be called the prime subring of R by analogy with prime fields.

The prime subring of a ring R is a subring of the center of R, which is isomorphic either to the ring of the integers or to the ring of the integers modulo n, where n is the smallest positive integer such that the sum of n copies of 1 equals 0.

Ring extensions[edit]

If S is a subring of a ring R, then equivalently R is said to be a ring extension of S, written as R/S in similar notation to that for field extensions.

Subring generated by a set[edit]

Let R be a ring. Any intersection of subrings of R is again a subring of R. Therefore, if X is any subset of R, the intersection of all subrings of R containing X is a subring S of R. S is the smallest subring of R containing X. ("Smallest" means that if T is any other subring of R containing X, then S is contained in T.) S is said to be the subring of R generated by X. If S = R, we may say that the ring R is generated by X.

See also[edit]



  • Adamson, Iain T. (1972). Elementary rings and modules. University Mathematical Texts. Oliver and Boyd. pp. 14–16. ISBN 0-05-002192-3.
  • Dummit, David Steven; Foote, Richard Martin (2004). Abstract algebra (Third ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-43334-9.
  • Lang, Serge (2002). Algebra (3 ed.). New York. ISBN 978-0387953854.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Sharpe, David (1987). Rings and factorization. Cambridge University Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 0-521-33718-6.