Linear Algebra Over Semirings

  • David Wilding

Student thesis: Phd


Motivated by results of linear algebra over fields, rings and tropical semirings, we present a systematic way to understand the behaviour of matrices with entries in an arbitrary semiring. We focus on three closely related problems concerning the row and column spaces of matrices. This allows us to isolate and extract common properties that hold for different reasons over different semirings, yet also lets us identify which features of linear algebra are specific to particular types of semiring. For instance, the row and column spaces of a matrix over a field are isomorphic to each others' duals, as well as to each other, but over a tropical semiring only the first of these properties holds in general (this in itself is a surprising fact). Instead of being isomorphic, the row space and column space of a tropical matrix are anti-isomorphic in a certain order-theoretic and algebraic sense.The first problem is to describe the kernels of the row and column spaces of a given matrix. These equivalence relations generalise the orthogonal complement of a set of vectors, and the nature of their equivalence classes is entirely dependent upon the kind of semiring in question. The second, Hahn-Banach type, problem is to decide which linear functionals on row and column spaces of matrices have a linear extension. If they all do, the underlying semiring is called exact, and in this case the row and column spaces of any matrix are isomorphic to each others' duals. The final problem is to explain the connection between the row space and column space of each matrix. Our notion of a conjugation on a semiring accounts for the different possibilities in a unified manner, as it guarantees the existence of bijections between row and column spaces and lets us focus on the peculiarities of those bijections.Our main original contribution is the systematic approach described above, but along the way we establish several new results about exactness of semirings. We give sufficient conditions for a subsemiring of an exact semiring to inherit exactness, and we apply these conditions to show that exactness transfers to finite group semirings. We also show that every Boolean ring is exact. This result is interesting because it allows us to construct a ring which is exact (also known as FP-injective) but not self-injective. Finally, we consider exactness for residuated lattices, showing that every involutive residuated lattice is exact. We end by showing that the residuated lattice of subsets of a finite monoid is exact if and only if the monoid is a group.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMark Kambites (Supervisor) & Marcus Tressl (Supervisor)


  • elementary divisor ring
  • tropical semiring
  • monoid semiring
  • residuated lattice
  • semiring
  • kernel
  • matrix
  • orthogonal complement
  • Hahn-Banach
  • FP-injective

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