## Matrix Rings (Pt. I)

**Point of Post: **In this post we introduce the notion of matrix rings and prove some elementary facts such as the classification of their ideals.

*Motivation*

One may think that matrix rings come up most often in the study of matrices, as in the connection between matrices over fields and linear transformations. In fact, in our studies ,at least in general ring theory, we will see that matrix rings serve mainly as a source of interesting properties, and in particular a lot of counterexamples.

*Definitions and Basics*

Let be an arbitrary non-zero ring. We define the *ring of matrices over *, denoted , to be the set of all square arrays of the form

,denoted for short, with for all . We define the sum of two matrices by where and where . The fact that with these operations is really a ring is the same as the case when is a field.

Obviously is naturally isomorphic to , for we see that we note that is not commutative regardless of whether or not is. Indeed, let be non-zero, the matrix which has in the first entry of the first row in every other entry, the matrix which has in the second entry of the first row and zero elsewhere, then a quick check shows that .

Suppose now that is unital. Define the matrices to be such that has in the position and elsewhere. We call the set of matrices the *canonical basis for . *The reason for that name is clear when is a field since they form a basis for the vector space , and we shall see that they play a similar role for when we generalize the notion of a vector space. We note that if then is the matrix whose row is equal to the row of and zeros elsehwere and is the matrix whose column is equal to the column of and zeros elsewhere. We define the *identity matrix *to be the element of given by , we denote it . By our previous comment about the left and right multiplication properties of the ‘s it’s clear that and . Thus, is unital with identity .

We’d like to mention now another basic structural result concerning . Namely, there is no hope that is a division ring, for . In particular, it’s trivial to check that for one has that . Thus, if then always has zero divisors.

*Diagional Matrices, Scalar Matrices and the Natural Embeddings*

A matrix of the form

is called a *diagonal matrix. *It is often convenient to denote a diagonal matrix in the form . The set of all diagonal matrices is denoted . A quick check shows that

and

Thus, we obviously see that is a subring of (a unital subring if is). Moreover, is a morphism, and since it’s evidently bijective we find that (where we recall that is the -fold product of ).

In a similar vein we define a *scalar matrix *to be a matrix of the form . The set of all scalar matrices is denoted . We evidently see that is a subring of . Moreover, it’s clear that the map is an isomorphism so that .

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about is:

**Theorem: ***Let be a commutative unital ring. Then, the center is equal to .*

**Proof: **One can quickly check that for any matrix one has that

and since was arbitrary we may conclude that .

Conversely, let then for every we must have that , but we know that the first of these has all zero entries except it has the same row of the second of these has all zero entries except it has the same column as . Since they are equal we may conclude that except for the possibility of all the entries in the column and row of must be zero. Thus, doing this for all we may conclude that for some . Next, we note that but the left hand side exchanges the and row of and the right hand side exchanges the and columns, and thus . Since were arbitrary we conclude that and so . The conclusion follows.

**References:**

1. Dummit, David Steven., and Richard M. Foote. *Abstract Algebra*. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004. Print.

2. Bhattacharya, P. B., S. K. Jain, and S. R. Nagpaul. *Basic Abstract Algebra*. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Cambridge UP, 1986. Print.

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