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In linear algebra, the permanent of an n-by-n matrix A=(ai,j) is defined as
The sum here extends over all elements σ of the symmetric group Sn, i.e. over all permutations of the number 1,2,...,n.

For example,

The definition of the permanent of A differs from that of the determinant of A in that the signatures of the permutations are not taken into account. If one views the permanent as a map that takes n vectors as arguments, then it is a multilinear map and it is symmetric (meaning that any order of the vectors results in the same permanent). A formula similar to Laplace's for the development of a determinant along a row or column is also valid for the permanent; all signs have to be ignored for the permanent.

Unlike the determinant, the permanent has no easy geometrical interpretation; it is mainly used in combinatorics. The permanent is not multiplicative. It is also not possible to use Gaussian elimination to compute the permanent; no fast algorithms for its computation are known.