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Abelian semigroup • Analytic semigroup • Arf semigroup • Automatic semigroup • Bicyclic semigroup • C0 semigroup • C0semigroup • Cancellative semigroup • Completely regular semigroup • Composition semigroup • Empty semigroup • Free commutative semigroup • Free inverse semigroup • Monogenic semigroup • Nowhere commutative semigroup • Null semigroup • Ordered semigroup • Quasicontraction semigroup • Rees factor semigroup • Regular semigroup • Semigroup action • Semigroup with involution • Semigroup with two elements • Symmetric inverse semigroup • Topological semigroup • Transformation semigroup • Trivial semigroup
In mathematics, a semigroup is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an associative binary operation. A semigroup generalizes a monoid in that there might not exist an identity element. It also (originally) generalized a group (a monoid with all inverses) to a type where every element did not have to have an inverse, thus the name semigroup.
The binary operation of a semigroup is most often denoted multiplicatively: , or simply , denotes the result of applying the semigroup operation to the ordered pair . The operation is required to be associative so that for all x, y and z, but need not be commutative so that does not have to equal (contrast to the standard multiplication operator on real numbers, where xy = yx).
By definition, a semigroup is an associative magma. A semigroup with an identity element is called a monoid. A group is then a monoid in which every element has an inverse element. Semigroups must not be confused with quasigroups which are sets with a not necessarily associative binary operation such that division is always possible.
The formal study of semigroups began in the early 20th century. Semigroups are important in many areas of mathematics because they are the abstract algebraic underpinning of "memoryless" systems: timedependent systems that start from scratch at each iteration. In applied mathematics, semigroups are fundamental models for linear timeinvariant systems. In partial differential equations, a semigroup is associated to any equation whose spatial evolution is independent of time. The theory of finite semigroups has been of particular importance in theoretical computer science since the 1950s because of the natural link between finite semigroups and finite automata. In probability theory, semigroups are associated with Markov processes (Feller 1971).
Algebraic structures 

Grouplike structures

Ringlike structures

Latticelike structures

Modulelike structures

Algebralike structures

Contents 
A semigroup is a set together with a binary operation "" (that is, a function ) that satisfies the associative property:
For all , the equation holds.
More succinctly, a semigroup is an associative magma.
Every semigroup, in fact every magma, has at most one identity element. A semigroup with identity is called a monoid. A semigroup without identity may be embedded into a monoid simply by adjoining an element to and defining for all .^{[1]}^{[2]} The notation S^{1} denotes a monoid obtained from S by adjoining an identity if necessary (S^{1} = S for a monoid).^{[2]} Thus, every commutative semigroup can be embedded in a group via the Grothendieck group construction.
Similarly, every magma has at most one absorbing element, which in semigroup theory is called a zero. Analogous to the above construction, for every semigroup S, one defines S^{0}, a semigroup with 0 that embeds S.
The semigroup operation induces an operation on the collection of its subsets: given subsets A and B of a semigroup, A*B, written commonly as AB, is the set { ab  a in A and b in B }. In terms of this operations, a subset A is called
If A is both a left ideal and a right ideal then it is called an ideal (or a twosided ideal).
If S is a semigroup, then the intersection of any collection of subsemigroups of S is also a subsemigroup of S. So the subsemigroups of S form a complete lattice.
An example of semigroup with no minimal ideal is the set of positive integers under addition. The minimal ideal of a commutative semigroup, when it exists, is a group.
Green's relations, a set of five equivalence relations that characterise the elements in terms of the principal ideals they generate, are important tools for analysing the ideals of a semigroup and related notions of structure.
A semigroup homomorphism is a function that preserves semigroup structure. A function f: S → T between two semigroups is a homomorphism if the equation
holds for all elements a, b in S, i.e. the result is the same when performing the semigroup operation after or before applying the map f.
A semigroup homomorphism between monoids preserves identity if it is a monoid homomorphism. But there are semigroup homomorphisms which are not monoid homomorphisms, e.g. the canonical embedding of a semigroup without identity into . Conditions characterizing monoid homomorphisms are discussed further. Let be a semigroup homomorphism. The image of is also a semigroup. If is a monoid with an identity element , then is the identity element in the image of . If is also a monoid with an identity element and belongs to the image of , then , i.e. is a monoid homomorphism. Particularly, if is surjective, then it is a monoid homomorphism.
Two semigroups S and T are said to be isomorphic if there is a bijection f : S ↔ T with the property that, for any elements a, b in S, f(ab) = f(a)f(b). Isomorphic semigroups have the same structure.
A semigroup congruence is an equivalence relation that is compatible with the semigroup operation. That is, a subset that is an equivalence relation and and implies for every in S. Like any equivalence relation, a semigroup congruence induces congruence classes
and the semigroup operation induces a binary operation on the congruence classes:
Because is a congruence, the set of all congruence classes of forms a semigroup with , called the quotient semigroup or factor semigroup, and denoted . The mapping is a semigroup homomorphism, called the quotient map, canonical surjection or projection; if S is a monoid then quotient semigroup is a monoid with identity . Conversely, the kernel of any semigroup homomorphism is a semigroup congruence. These results are nothing more than a particularization of the first isomorphism theorem in universal algebra. Congruence classes and factor monoids are the objects of study in string rewriting systems.
Every ideal I of a semigroup induces a subsemigroup, the Rees factor semigroup via the congruence x ρ y ⇔ either x = y or both x and y are in I.
For any subset A of S there is a smallest subsemigroup T of S which contains A, and we say that A generates T. A single element x of S generates the subsemigroup { x^{n}  n is a positive integer }. If this is finite, then x is said to be of finite order, otherwise it is of infinite order. A semigroup is said to be periodic if all of its elements are of finite order. A semigroup generated by a single element is said to be monogenic (or cyclic). If a monogenic semigroup is infinite then it is isomorphic to the semigroup of positive integers with the operation of addition. If it is finite and nonempty, then it must contain at least one idempotent. It follows that every nonempty periodic semigroup has at least one idempotent.
A subsemigroup which is also a group is called a subgroup. There is a close relationship between the subgroups of a semigroup and its idempotents. Each subgroup contains exactly one idempotent, namely the identity element of the subgroup. For each idempotent e of the semigroup there is a unique maximal subgroup containing e. Each maximal subgroup arises in this way, so there is a onetoone correspondence between idempotents and maximal subgroups. Here the term maximal subgroup differs from its standard use in group theory.
More can often be said when the order is finite. For example, every nonempty finite semigroup is periodic, and has a minimal ideal and at least one idempotent. For more on the structure of finite semigroups, see KrohnRhodes theory.
The group of fractions of a semigroup S is the group G = G(S) generated by the elements of S as generators and all equations xy=z which hold true in S as relations.^{[4]} This has a universal property for morphisms from S to a group.^{[5]} There is an obvious map from S to G(S) by sending each element of S to the corresponding generator.
An important question is to characterize those semigroups for which this map is an embedding. This need not always be the case: for example, take S to be the semigroup of subsets of some set X with settheoretic intersection as the binary operation (this is an example of a semilattice). Since A.A = A holds for all elements of S, this must be true for all generators of G(S) as well: which is therefore the trivial group. It is clearly necessary for embeddability that S have the cancellation property. When S is commutative this condition is also sufficient^{[6]} and the Grothendieck group of the semigroup provides a construction of the group of fractions. The problem for noncommutative semigroups can be traced to the first substantial paper on semigroups, (Suschkewitsch 1928).^{[7]} Anatoly Maltsev gave necessary and conditions for embeddability in 1937.^{[8]}
Semigroup theory can be used to study some problems in the field of partial differential equations. Roughly speaking, the semigroup approach is to regard a timedependent partial differential equation as an ordinary differential equation on a function space. For example, consider the following initial/boundary value problem for the heat equation on the spatial interval (0, 1) ⊂ R and times t ≥ 0:
Let X be the L^{p} space L^{2}((0, 1); R) and let A be the secondderivative operator with domain
Then the above initial/boundary value problem can be interpreted as an initial value problem for an ordinary differential equation on the space X:
On an heuristic level, the solution to this problem "ought" to be u(t) = exp(tA)u_{0}. However, for a rigorous treatment, a meaning must be given to the exponential of tA. As a function of t, exp(tA) is a semigroup of operators from X to itself, taking the initial state u_{0} at time t = 0 to the state u(t) = exp(tA)u_{0} at time t. The operator A is said to be the infinitesimal generator of the semigroup.
The study of semigroups trailed behind that of other algebraic structures with more complex axioms such as groups or rings. A number of sources^{[9]}^{[10]} attribute the first use of the term (in French) to J.A. de Séguier in Élements de la Théorie des Groupes Abstraits (Elements of the Theory of Abstract Groups) in 1904. The term is used in English in 1908 in Harold Hinton's Theory of Groups of Finite Order.
Anton Suschkewitsch obtained the first nontrivial results about semigroups. His 1928 paper Über die endlichen Gruppen ohne das Gesetz der eindeutigen Umkehrbarkeit (On finite groups without the rule of unique invertibility) determined the structure of finite simple semigroups and showed that the minimal ideal (or Green's relations Jclass) of a finite semigroup is simple.^{[10]} From that point on, the foundations of semigroup theory were further laid by David Rees, James Alexander Green, Evgenii Sergeevich Lyapin, Alfred H. Clifford and Gordon Preston. The latter two published a twovolume monograph on semigroup theory in 1961 and 1967 respectively. In 1970, a new periodical called Semigroup Forum (currently edited by Springer Verlag) became one of the few mathematical journals devoted entirely to semigroup theory.
In recent years researchers in the field have became more specialized with dedicated monographs appearing on important classes of semigroups, like inverse semigroups, as well as monographs focusing on applications in algebraic automata theory, particularly for finite automata, and also in functional analysis.
Grouplike structures  
Totality  Associativity  Identity  Inverses  Commutativity  

Magma  Required  not required  not required  not required  not required 
Quasigroup  Required  not required  not required  Required  not required 
Unital  Required  not required  Required  not required  not required 
Loop  Required  not required  Required  Required  not required 
Semigroup  Required  Required  not required  not required  not required 
Monoid  Required  Required  Required  not required  not required 
Group  Required  Required  Required  Required  not required 
Abelian Group  Required  Required  Required  Required  Required 
Groupoid  not required  Required  Required  Required  not required 
Category  not required  Required  Required  not required  not required 
Semicategory  not required  Required  not required  not required  not required 
Note: A quasigroup with associativity (equivalently, a semigroup with inverses) already has an identity element, and is therefore a group. 
If the associativity axiom of a semigroup is dropped, the result is a magma, which is nothing more than a set M equipped with a binary operation M × M → M.
Generalizing in a different direction, an nary semigroup (also nsemigroup, polyadic semigroup or multiary semigroup) is a generalization of a semigroup to a set G with a nary operation instead of a binary operation.^{[11]} The associative law is generalized as follows: ternary associativity is (abc)de = a(bcd)e = ab(cde), i.e. the string abcde with any three adjacent elements bracketed. Nary associativity is a string of length n + (n − 1) with any n adjacent elements bracketed. A 2ary semigroup is just a semigroup. Further axioms lead to an nary group.
A third generalization is the semigroupoid, in which the requirement that the binary relation be total is lifted. As categories generalize monoids in the same way, a semigroupoid behaves much like a category but lacks identities.
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