Identity (mathematics)

equation that is satisfied for all values of the variables
For other senses of this word, see identity.

In mathematics, the term identity has several important uses:

  • An identity is an equality that remains true even if you change all the variables that are used in that equality.

An equality in mathematical sense is only true under more particular conditions. For this, the symbol ≡ is sometimes used. (However, this can lead to misunderstandings since the same symbol can also be used for a congruence relation.)

ExamplesEdit

Identity relationEdit

A common example of the first meaning is the trigonometric identity

 

which is true for all real values of   (since the real numbers   are the domain of sin and cos), as opposed to

 

which is true only for values of   in a subset of the domain.

Identity elementEdit

The concepts of "additive identity" and "multiplicative identity" are central to the Peano axioms. The number 0 is the "additive identity" for integers, real numbers, and complex numbers. For the real numbers, for all  

 
  and
 

Similarly, The number 1 is the "multiplicative identity" for integers, real numbers, and complex numbers. For the real numbers, for all  

 
  and
 

Identity functionEdit

A common example of an identity function is the identity permutation, which sends each element of the set   to itself.

ComparisonEdit

These meanings are not mutually exclusive; for instance, the identity permutation is the identity element in the set of permutations of   under composition.

Other websitesEdit

  • EquationSolver - A webpage that can test a suggested identity and return a true/false "verdict".