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Source of term "multiplication" in matrix multiplication

 
 
William Hughes
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      03-13-2010
Recently, the question was asked in comp.lang.c
why matrix multiplication (a rather complex operation
not obviously related to ordinary mulitplication)
is known as multiplication. Hypotheses have included
the fact that matrix multiplication of nxn matriices
corresponds to the "multiplication" operation in the
ring of nxn matrices, and the fact that matrix
multiplication corresponds to composition of linear
transforms and composition is often termed
multiplication. However, no hard evidence has
been presented.

Does anyone know how the term arose?

- William Hughes
 
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Chip Eastham
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      03-13-2010
On Mar 13, 12:57*pm, William Hughes <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Recently, the question was asked in comp.lang.c
> why matrix multiplication (a rather complex operation
> not obviously related to ordinary mulitplication)
> is known as multiplication. *Hypotheses have included
> the fact that matrix multiplication of nxn matriices
> corresponds to the "multiplication" operation in the
> ring of nxn matrices, and the fact that matrix
> multiplication corresponds to composition of linear
> transforms and composition is often termed
> multiplication. *However, no hard evidence has
> been presented.
>
> Does anyone know how the term arose?
>
> * * * * * * * * * * * * * * - William Hughes


The name is apt for the reasons you mentioned and
others (such as distributivity over matrix addition,
consistency with the computation of determinants,
contrast with scalar multiplication, and its role
in abstracting out coefficients in a system of
linear equations into a single matrix "coefficient").
If the name were not apt, a replacement would be
found.

But perhaps you are asking about the history of
the term? I recall a thread in this newsgroup
some while back that touched on the history as
regards the priority of matrix notation vs.
determinant notation. If you like I can dig
for it.

regards, chip
 
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A N Niel
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      03-13-2010
>
> If you like I can dig for it.


Wow. Instead of just guessing at the answer, looking up a reference?
What a novel idea!
 
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BillyGates
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      03-13-2010
A N Niel wrote:
>> If you like I can dig for it.

>
> Wow. Instead of just guessing at the answer, looking up a reference?
> What a novel idea!


A reference of someone guessing? Your right... that is novel!

 
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Ben Bacarisse
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      03-14-2010
William Hughes <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> Recently, the question was asked in comp.lang.c
> why matrix multiplication (a rather complex operation
> not obviously related to ordinary mulitplication)
> is known as multiplication. Hypotheses have included
> the fact that matrix multiplication of nxn matriices
> corresponds to the "multiplication" operation in the
> ring of nxn matrices, and the fact that matrix
> multiplication corresponds to composition of linear
> transforms and composition is often termed
> multiplication. However, no hard evidence has
> been presented.
>
> Does anyone know how the term arose?


It seems to be generally agreed that the term 'matrix' was coined by
Sylvester in 1950 as "an oblong arrangement of terms" but he never
viewed matrices as objects in their own right. He was only concerned
with the determinants that they give rise to, not the matrices
themselves.

His friend Cayley seems to have been the first to see that these
objects can have an algebra of their own. In 1858 he published "A
Memoir on the Theory of Matrices" (in the Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society of London). In this paper he says that they may
be "multiplied or compounded together" and gives the usual rule though
he is obviously wary of non-square matrices since he leaves a full
discussion of their "composition" to the end of the paper.

He often uses the term "multiplied or compounded" (and sometimes
"composed") but he does use the term "multiplication of matrices" a
few times without qualifying it in any way. What we now call pre- and
post-multiplication, he calls "compounded as the first or second
component".

Interestingly, when he addresses non-square matrices specifically he
switches to using the term "composition" exclusively. I suspect that
the term "multiplication" carried (at the time) too much baggage to be
associated with such an operation.

--
Ben.
 
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Stefan Ram
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      03-14-2010
William Hughes <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>Does anyone know how the term arose?


We can start observing that there is the »natural«
way to »add« matrices, by adding the components.
So, therefore, this is called »addition«.

I assume that the algebraic laws for matrix
multiplication then relate it to matrix addition
in the way multiplication is related to addition
in a ring (which is the most general algebraic
structure with a multiplication and commutative
addition that I know). So, therefore, it then would
be »the multiplication in the ring of matrices«.

Indeed, I now have confirmed via Wikipedia that
the matrices over a ring are a ring themselves.

 
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Ben Bacarisse
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      03-14-2010
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)-berlin.de (Stefan Ram) writes:

> William Hughes <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>>Does anyone know how the term arose?

>
> We can start observing that there is the »natural«
> way to »add« matrices, by adding the components.
> So, therefore, this is called »addition«.
>
> I assume that the algebraic laws for matrix
> multiplication then relate it to matrix addition
> in the way multiplication is related to addition
> in a ring (which is the most general algebraic
> structure with a multiplication and commutative
> addition that I know). So, therefore, it then would
> be »the multiplication in the ring of matrices«.
>
> Indeed, I now have confirmed via Wikipedia that
> the matrices over a ring are a ring themselves.


s/matrices/NxN matrices/ (i.e. what you say is only true of square
matrices of a particular size).

Overall, the above sounds like a post-justification rather than a
probably explanation of the term. Ring theory started with
Dedekind in about 1870 and it was not until the early 20th century
that rings were unified by axiomatising the abstract structure
they all share.

I get the feeling that Cayley called his composition operation
"multiplication" because he observed that, for square matrices, there
is both a zero (additive and multiplicative) and a multiplicative
identity. It seems unlikely that the term was chosen because of some
deeper algebraic understanding. For example, despite listing 58
properties and theorems about matrices[1] the paper I cited does not
include that fact that multiplication distributes over addition.

[1] Including an unproved version of what came to be called the
Cayley-Hamilton theorem: that a square matrix satisfies its own
characteristic equation p(t) = det(tI - A).
--
Ben.
 
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BillyGates
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      03-14-2010
William Hughes wrote:
> Recently, the question was asked in comp.lang.c
> why matrix multiplication (a rather complex operation
> not obviously related to ordinary mulitplication)
> is known as multiplication. Hypotheses have included
> the fact that matrix multiplication of nxn matriices
> corresponds to the "multiplication" operation in the
> ring of nxn matrices, and the fact that matrix
> multiplication corresponds to composition of linear
> transforms and composition is often termed
> multiplication. However, no hard evidence has
> been presented.
>
> Does anyone know how the term arose?
>
> - William Hughes


I'm curious as to why it matters. Can you give me a good argument why
knowing the true etymology has any real significance in mathematics? We can
propose several likely reasons that are all logically coherent. Is it really
important to know which one is historically true? We can imagine that any of
the logical reasons could have be used in any alternate history and being
"wrong" here has no negative impact on our intellectual evolution?

 
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Chip Eastham
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      03-14-2010
On Mar 14, 12:08*pm, Ben Bacarisse <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> (E-Mail Removed)-berlin.de (Stefan Ram) writes:
> > William Hughes <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> >>Does anyone know how the term arose?

>
> > * We can start observing that there is the »natural«
> > * way to »add« matrices, by adding the components.
> > * So, therefore, this is called »addition«.

>
> > * I assume that the algebraic laws for matrix
> > * multiplication then relate it to matrix addition
> > * in the way multiplication is related to addition
> > * in a ring (which is the most general algebraic
> > * structure with a multiplication and commutative
> > * addition that I know). So, therefore, it then would
> > * be »the multiplication in the ring of matrices«.

>
> > * Indeed, I now have confirmed via Wikipedia that
> > * the matrices over a ring are a ring themselves.

>
> s/matrices/NxN matrices/ (i.e. what you say is only true of square
> matrices of a particular size).
>
> Overall, the above sounds like a post-justification rather than a
> probably explanation of the term. *Ring theory started with
> Dedekind in about 1870 and it was not until the early 20th century
> that rings were unified by axiomatising the abstract structure
> they all share.
>
> I get the feeling that Cayley called his composition operation
> "multiplication" because he observed that, for square matrices, there
> is both a zero (additive and multiplicative) and a multiplicative
> identity. *It seems unlikely that the term was chosen because of some
> deeper algebraic understanding. *For example, despite listing 58
> properties and theorems about matrices[1] the paper I cited does not
> include that fact that multiplication distributes over addition.
>
> [1] Including an unproved version of what came to be called the
> Cayley-Hamilton theorem: that a square matrix satisfies its own
> characteristic equation p(t) = det(tI - A).
> --
> Ben.


Hi, Ben:

Cayley's 1858 paper about "matrix multiplication" occurs
after his 1854 attempt to define "group" in an abstract
way:

[The abstract group concept]
http://www.gap-system.org/~history/H...ct_groups.html

So group theory forms a more plausible "background"
for Cayley's choice of words than ring theory.

regards, chip
 
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Ashton K
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      03-14-2010
In sci.math BillyGates <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> I'm curious as to why it matters. Can you give me a good argument why
> knowing the true etymology has any real significance in mathematics? We can
> propose several likely reasons that are all logically coherent. Is it really
> important to know which one is historically true? We can imagine that any of
> the logical reasons could have be used in any alternate history and being
> "wrong" here has no negative impact on our intellectual evolution?


Curiosity, really. It's what we humans do, be curious.

--Ashton
 
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