Math Is Fun Forum
  Discussion about math, puzzles, games and fun.   Useful symbols: ÷ × ½ √ ∞ ≠ ≤ ≥ ≈ ⇒ ± ∈ Δ θ ∴ ∑ ∫ • π ƒ -¹ ² ³ °

You are not logged in.

#1 2006-03-24 06:11:31

Registered: 2006-01-24
Posts: 37

Proving something is well defined

I need to prove that multiplication on Q is well defined. I have no idea really what well defined even means. From what I understand from reading, it means that multiplication on Q does not depend on the choices of integers to represent the equivalence classes. However, I have no idea how to go about proving that. Anyone have any ideas?


#2 2006-03-24 12:20:20

Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: Proving something is well defined

English version:
Think of well defined as defined well.  When is something defined well?  When you know precisely what it is by the definition!

So the definition we have is that a * b = c, where a, b, c ∈ Q.  If we know exactly what a and b are, do we know exactly what c is?  Or is it a little fuzzy?

Here's any example: y = x².  If I tell you what y is, can you tell me what x is?  Well, no, not exactly.  If I say y is 9, x could be 3 or it could be -3.  See what I mean by fuzzy?  It's not defined well, you don't know exactly what x is.

On the contrary, if I tell you y = x, and then tell you what y is, you could tell me what x is every time.  That's pretty well defined, right?

Math (words) version:
Well defined simply just means that if two elements of a set are eqaul, and there is a function that maps these elements to another set, then their mapped versions will also be equal.

Math (symbol) version:
A map f is well defined when f:A⇒B, for all a1,a2∈A if a1 = a2 then f(a1) = f(a2)

I did that mostly to show that mathimaticans have such a great language that something which takes paragraphs in english can be shortned down to one sentence in pure mathish.

What you need to show is that if a = b and c = d, then a * c = b * d.  Try it, and see what you can come up with.

"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."


Board footer

Powered by FluxBB