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{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} In mathematics, and more specificially in abstract algebra, a *-algebra (or involutive algebra) is a mathematical structure consisting of two involutive rings Template:Mvar and Template:Mvar, where Template:Mvar is commutative and Template:Mvar has the structure of an associative algebra over Template:Mvar. Involutive algebras generalize the idea of a number system equipped with conjugation, for example the complex numbers and complex conjugation, matrices over the complex numbers and conjugate transpose, and linear operators over a Hilbert space and Hermitian adjoints. Template:Sister



In mathematics, a *-ring is an associative ring with a map * : AA which is an antiautomorphism and an involution.

More precisely, * is required to satisfy the following properties:

  • (x + y)* = x* + y*
  • (x y)* = y* x*
  • 1* = 1
  • (x*)* = x

for all x, y in Template:Mvar.

This is also called an involutive ring, involutory ring, and ring with involution. Note that the third axiom is actually redundant, because the second and fourth axioms imply 1* is also a multiplicative identity, and identities are unique.

Elements such that x* = x are called self-adjoint.

Archetypical examples of a *-ring are fields of complex numbers and algebraic numbers with complex conjugation as the involution. One can define a sesquilinear form over any *-ring.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}}Also, one can define *-versions of algebraic objects, such as ideal and subring, with the requirement to be *-invariant: xIx* ∈ I and so on.


A *-algebra Template:Mvar is a *-ring,[1] with involution * that is an associative algebra over a commutative *-ring Template:Mvar with involution Template:Mvar, such that (r x)* = r′x*  ∀rR, xA.[2]

The base *-ring is usually the complex numbers (with Template:Mvar acting as complex conjugation) and commutes with Template:Mvar.Template:Clarify

Since Template:Mvar is central,Template:Clarify the * on Template:Mvar is conjugate-linear in Template:Mvar, meaning

(λ x + μy)* = λ′x* + μ′y*

for λ, μR, x, yA.

A *-homomorphism f : AB is an algebra homomorphism that is compatible with the involutions of Template:Mvar and Template:Mvar, i.e.,


A *-operation on a *-ring is an operation on a ring that behaves similarly to complex conjugation on the complex numbers. A *-operation on a *-algebra is an operation on an algebra over a *-ring that behaves similarlyTemplate:Vague to taking adjoints in GLn(C).


The * involution is a unary operation written with a postfixed star glyph centered above or near the mean line:

xx*, or
xx (TeX: x^*),

but not as "x"; see the asterisk article for details.


Involutive Hopf algebras are important examples of *-algebras (with the additional structure of a compatible comultiplication); the most familiar example being:

Additional structures

Many properties of the transpose hold for general *-algebras:

  • The Hermitian elements form a Jordan algebra;
  • The skew Hermitian elements form a Lie algebra;
  • If 2 is invertible in the *-ring, then {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$B=1/2}}(1 + *) and {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$B=1/2}}(1 − *) are orthogonal idempotents, called symmetrizing and anti-symmetrizing, so the algebra decomposes as a direct sum of modules (vector spaces if the *-ring is a field) of symmetric and anti-symmetric (Hermitian and skew Hermitian) elements. These spaces do not, generally, form associative algebras, because the idempotents are operators, not elements of the algebra.

Skew structures

Given a *-ring, there is also the map −* : x ↦ −x*. It does not define a *-ring structure (unless the characteristic is 2, in which case −* is identical to the original *), as 1 ↦ −1, neither is it antimultiplicative, but it satisfies the other axioms (linear, involution) and hence is quite similar.Template:Vague

Elements fixed by this map (i.e., such that a = −a*) are called skew Hermitian.

For the complex numbers with complex conjugation, the real numbers are the Hermitian elements, and the imaginary numbers are the skew Hermitian.

See also


  1. Most definitions do not require a *-algebra to have the unity, i.e. a *-algebra is allowed to be a *-rng only.
  2. Template:Nlab