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Generally, something that is modular is constructed so as to facilitate easy assembly, flexible arrangement, and/or repair.

For module in Linux see module (linux)

In abstract algebra, a left R-module consists of an abelian group (M, +) together with a ring of scalars (R,+,*) and an operation R × M -> M (scalar multiplication, usually just written by juxtaposition, i.e. as rx for r in R and x in M) such that

For all r,s in R, x,y in M, we have

  1. (rs)x = r(sx)
  2. (r+s)x = rx+sx
  3. r(x+y) = rx+ry
  4. 1x = x

Usually, we simply write "a left R-module M" or RM.

Some authors omit condition 4 for the general definition of left modules, and call the above defined structures "unital left modules". In this encyclopedia however, all modules are assumed to be unital.

A right R-module M or MR is defined similarly, only the ring acts on the right, i.e. we have a scalar multiplication of the form M × R -> M, and the above three axioms are written with scalars r and s on the right of x and y. If R is commutative, then the left R-module is the same as the right R-module and is simply called an R-module.

If R is a field, then an R-module is also called a vector space. Modules are thus generalizations of vector spaces, and much of the theory of modules consists of recovering desirable properties of vector spaces in the realm of modules over certain rings. However, in general, an R-module may not have a basis.

Table of contents
1 Examples
2 Submodules and homomorphisms
3 Alternative definition as representations


Submodules and homomorphisms

Suppose M is an R-module and N is a subgroup of M. Then N is a submodule (or R-submodule, to be more explicit) if, for any n in N and any r in R, the product rn is in N (or nr for a right module).

If M and N are left R-modules, then a map f : M -> N is a homomorphism of R-modules if, for any m, n in M and r, s in R, f(rm + sn) = rf(m) + sf(n). This, like any homomorphism of mathematical objects, is just a mapping which preserves the structure of the objects.

Alternative definition as representations

If M is a left R-module, then the action of an element r in R is defined to be the map MM that sends each x to rx (or xr in the case of a right module), and is necessarily a group endomorphism of the abelian group (M,+). The set of all group endomorphisms of M is denoted EndZ(M) and forms a ring under addition and composition, and sending a ring element r of R to its action actually defines a ring homomorphism from R to EndZ(M).

Such a ring homorphism R → EndZ(M) is called a representation of R over the abelian group M; an alternative and equivalent way of defining left R-modules is to say that a left R-module is an abelian group M together with a representation of R over it.

A representation is called faithful if and only if the map R → EndZ(M) is injective. In terms of modules, this means that if r is an element of R such that rx=0 for all x in M, then r=0. Every abelian group is a faithful module over the integers or over some modular arithmetic Z/nZ.