Abstract Algebra: Theory and Applications
Thomas Judson, Stephen F. Austin State University
Pub Date: 2016
ISBN 13: 978-1-9443250-2-2
Publisher: University of Puget Sound
Conditions of Use
This textbook is recommended for a upper division undergraduate course on abstract algebra and contains enough materials to cover a two-semester read more
This textbook is recommended for a upper division undergraduate course on abstract algebra and contains enough materials to cover a two-semester sequence, with particular emphasis placed on groups, rings, and fields. The group theory contains all the main topics of undergraduate algebra, including subgroups, cosets, normal subgroups, quotient groups, homomorphisms, and isomorphism theorems and introduces students to the important families of groups, with a particular emphasis on finite groups, such as cyclic, abelian, dihedral, permutation, and matrix groups. The textbook also includes more advanced topics such as structure of finite abelian groups, solvable groups, group actions, and Sylow Theory. The coverage of rings is equally comprehensive including the important topics of ideals, domains, fields, homomorphisms, polynomials, factorization, field extensions, and Galois Theory. The book is accompanied with a comprehensive index of topics and notation as well of solutions to selected exercises.
The content of the textbook is very accurate, mathematically sound, and there are only a few errors throughout. The few errors which still exist can be reported to the author via email who appears to be very welcoming to suggestions or corrections from others. The author updates the textbook annually with corrections and additions.
This textbook follows the classical approach to teaching groups, rings, and fields to undergraduate and will retain its value throughout the years as the theory and examples will not be changing. It is possible that some of the applications included, mostly related to computer science, could eventually become obsolete as new techniques are discovered, but this will probably not be too consequential to this text which is a math book and not a compute science textbook. The applications of algebra can still be interesting and motivating to the reader even if they are not the state-of-the-art. The author updates the textbook annually with corrections and is very welcoming to suggestions or corrections from others.
Overall, the textbook is very clear to read for those readers with the appropriate background of set theory, logic, and linear algebra. Proofs are particularly easy to follow and are well-written. The only real struggle here is in the homework exercises. Occasionally, the assumptions of the homework are not explicit which can lead to confusion for the student. This is often the fault that the exercises are collected for the entire chapter and not for individual sections. It can sometimes be a chore for instructors to assign regular homework because they might unintentionally assign an exercise which only involves vocabulary from an early section but whose proofs required theory from later in the chapter.
The author is consistent in his approach to both the theory and applications of abstract algebra, which matches in style many available textbooks on abstract algebra. In particular, the book's definitions and names of important theorems are in harmony with the greater body of algebraists. It is also consistent with its notation, although sometimes this notations deviates from the more popular notations and often fails to mention alternative notations used by others. A comprehensive notation index is included with references to the original introduction of the notation in the text. Regrettably, no similar glossary of terms exists except the index, which is should be sufficient for most readers.
The textbook is divided into chapters, sections, and subsections, with exercises and supplementary materials placed in the back of each chapter or at the end of the book. These headings and subheadings lead themselves naturally to how an instructor might parse the course material into regular lectures, but, dependent of the amount of detail desired by the instructor, these subsections do not often produce 50-minute lectures. The textbook's preface includes a dependency chart to help an instructor decide on the order of topics if time restricts complete coverage of the topics. The textbook could be easily adapted for a two semester sequence with the first semester covering groups and the second covering rings and fields or a single semester course which introduces both groups and rings while skipping the more advanced topics. The application chapters/sections can easily be included into the course or omitted from the course based upon the instructor's interest and background with virtually no interruption to the students. Some chapters include a section of "Additional Exercises" which include exercises about topic not covered in the textbook but adjacent to the topics introduced. Although these sections are prefaced by some explanation of the exploratory topic, rarely are these topics thorough explained which might leave student grossly confused and require the instructor to supplement the textbook on any exercises assigned from here.
All sections follow the basic template of first introducing new definitions followed by examples, theorems, and proofs (although counterexamples are included, the presentation could benefit from additional counterexamples) and further definitions, examples, and theory are introduced as appropriate. Each chapter is concluded with a historical note, exercises for students, and references and suggested readings. Additionally, each chapter includes a section about programming in Sage relevant to the chapter contents with accompanying exercise, but this section is only available in the online version, not the downloadable or print versions. The first chapters review prerequisite materials including set theory and integers, which can be skipped by those students with a sufficient background without any loss. This book takes a "group-first" approach to introductory abstract algebra with rings, fields, vector spaces, and Boolean algebras introduced later. Throughout the textbook, in addition to the examples and theory, there are several practical applications of abstract algebra with a particular emphasis on computer science, such as cryptography and coding theory. These application sections/chapters can be easily included into the course without much extra preparation for the instructor or omitted at no real disruption to the student.
This textbook was authored using PreTeXt, which designed for typesetting mathematical documents and allow them to be converted into multiple formats. This textbook is available in an online, downloadable pdf, and print version. All three versions have solid format, especially in regard to the mathematical typesetting and graphics. The online version is available in both English and Spanish, where the interface and readability are equally of high quality.
The textbook appears to be absent of regular grammatical or mathematical errors, although a few might be present. The few errors which still might exist can be reported to the author via email who appears to be very welcoming to suggestions or corrections from others. The author updates the textbook annually with corrections and additions. For the purposes of this review, the English version of the textbook was reviewed. The reviewed makes no claim about the quality of the grammar of the Spanish version which was translated by Antonio Behn from the author's original English version.
Culture is not really a concern for theoretical mathematics textbooks which focuses almost entire on mathematical content knowledge and theory and not so much on people or their relationships. The textbook is devoid of culturally insensitive of offensive materials. Many chapters end with historical notes about mathematicians who helped to develop the chapter's materials. These notes typically follow the traditional Western European narrative of abstract algebra's development and is fairly homogeneous. Efforts could be made to include a more diverse and international history of algebra beyond Europe. For example, there is no historical note about the Chinese Remainder Theorem other than a sentence to explain why its name includes the word "Chinese." The textbook, originally written in English, now includes a complete Spanish edition, which is a massive effort for any textbook to be more inclusive.
This has been one of my absolute favorite textbooks for teaching abstract algebra. In fact, I think Judson's book is a golden standard for what a high-quality, mathematical OER textbook should be. It has created using the very impressive PreTeXt. In addition to the different formats, this book includes SAGE exercises. It has enough material to fill the usual two-semester course in undergraduate abstract algebra.
This is a two-in-one book: a theoretical part and a computational part. Initially the OTL contained a 2014 version of the book, which only made read more
This is a two-in-one book: a theoretical part and a computational part. Initially the OTL contained a 2014 version of the book, which only made tangential reference to the SAGE computational system. I downloaded from the author’s website the full, 2016 version, which eventually was also made into the OTL default. The theoretical part of the book is certainly adequately comprehensive, covering evenly the proposed material, and being supported by judiciously chosen exercises. The computational part also seems to me comprehensive enough, however one should not take my word for it as this side exceeds my areas of expertise and interest.
The parts that I checked, at random, were very accurate, so I have no reason to believe that the book was not entirely accurate. However, only after testing the book in the classroom, which I intend to do soon, can I certify this aspect.
The material is highly relevant for any serious discussion on math curriculum, and will live as long as mankind does.
For me as instructor the book was very clear, however keep in mind that this was not the first source for learning the material. Things may be different for a beginning student, who sees the material for the first time. Again, a judgment on this should be postponed until testing the book in the classroom.
The book is consistent throughout, all the topics being covered thoroughly and meaningfully.
I have no substantive comments on this topic.
The book, maybe a little too long for its own good, is divided into 23 chapters. The flow is natural, and builds on itself. The structure of each chapter is the same: After adequately presenting the material (conceptual definitions, theorems, examples), it proceeds to exercises, sometimes historical notes, references and further readings, to conclude with a substantial computational (based on SAGE syntax) discussion of the material, also including SAGE exercises. The applications to cryptography and coding theory highlight the practical importance of the material. I particularly liked the selection of exercises.
Another big advantage of a free book is that the student does not have to print all of it, certainly not all of it at the same time. This is a big plus, since with commercial books most of the time a student buys a book and only a fraction of it is needed in a course.
Written in a conversational, informal style the book is by and large free of grammatical errors. There are about a dozen minor mistakes, such as concatenated words or repeated words.
The historical vignettes are sweet. Maybe adding pictures of the mathematicians involved would not be a bad thing.
I liked the book, but I like more the concept of free access to theoretical and practical knowledge. Best things in life should essentially be free: air, water, …, education. I will make an effort to use open textbooks whenever possible.
This book is introductory, and covers the basic of groups, rings, fields, and vector spaces. In addition, it also includes material on some read more
This book is introductory, and covers the basic of groups, rings, fields, and vector spaces. In addition, it also includes material on some interesting applications (e.g., public key cryptography). In terms of covering a lot of topics, the book is certainly comprehensive, and contains enough material for at least a year-long course for undergraduate math majors. A "dependency chart" in the preface should be very useful when deciding on what path to take through the text. One noteworthy feature of this book is that it incorporates the open-source algebra program Sage. While the .pdf copy I found through the OTN website only included a not-very-serious discussion of Sage at the end of most exercise sets, the online textbook found at http://abstract.pugetsound.edu/aata/ appears to contain a much more substantial discussion of how to use Sage to explore the ideas in this book. I admit that I didn't explore this feature very much.
Though I have not checked every detail (the book is quite long!), there do not appear to be any major errors.
The topics covered here are basic, and will therefore not require any real updates. The book is also written in such a way that it should be easy to include new sections of applications.
I would say that this this book is well-written. The style is somewhat informal, and there are plenty of illustrative examples throughout the text. The first chapter also contains a brief discussion of what it means to write and read a mathematical proof, and gives many useful suggestions for beginners. Through I didn't read every proof, in the ones I did look at, the arguments convey the key ideas without saying too much. The author also maintains the good habit of explicitly recalling what has been proved, and pointing out what remains to be done. In my experience, it is this sort of mid-proof "recap" is helpful for beginners.
The terminology in this text is standard, and appears to be consistent.
Each chapter is broken up into subsections, which makes it easy to for students to read, and for instructors to assign reading. In addition, this book covers modular arithmetic, which makes it even more "modular" in my opinion!
It seems like there is no standard way to present this material. While the author's choices are perfectly fine, my personal bias would have been to discuss polynomial rings and fields earlier in the text.
The link on page v to abstract.pugetsound.edu appears to be broken. My browser also had some issues when browsing the Sage-related material on the online version of this text, but this may be a personal problem.
I did not notice any major grammatical errors.
I'm not certain that this question is appropriate for a math textbook. On the other hand, I'll take this as an opportunity to note that the historical notes that appear throughout are a nice touch.
The problem sets appear to be substantial and appropriate for a strong undergraduate student. Also, many sections contain problems that are meant to be solved by writing a computer program, which might be of interest for students studying computer science. I am also slightly concerned that the book is so long that students may find it overwhelming and hard to sift through.
Table of Contents
- The Integers
- Cyclic Groups
- Permutation Groups
- Cosets and Lagrange’s Theorem
- Introduction to Cryptography
- Algebraic Coding Theory
- Normal Subgroups and Factor Groups
- Matrix Groups and Symmetry
- The Structure of Groups
- Group Actions
- The Sylow Theorems
- Integral Domains
- Lattices and Boolean Algebras
- Vector Spaces
- Finite Fields
- Galois Theory
About the Book
This text is intended for a one- or two-semester undergraduate course in abstract algebra. Traditionally, these courses have covered the theoretical aspects of groups, rings, and fields. However, with the development of computing in the last several decades, applications that involve abstract algebra and discrete mathematics have become increasingly important, and many science, engineering, and computer science students are now electing to minor in mathematics. Though theory still occupies a central role in the subject of abstract algebra and no student should go through such a course without a good notion of what a proof is, the importance of applications such as coding theory and cryptography has grown significantly.
Until recently most abstract algebra texts included few if any applications. However, one of the major problems in teaching an abstract algebra course is that for many students it is their first encounter with an environment that requires them to do rigorous proofs. Such students often find it hard to see the use of learning to prove theorems and propositions; applied examples help the instructor provide motivation.
This text contains more material than can possibly be covered in a single semester. Certainly there is adequate material for a two-semester course, and perhaps more; however, for a one-semester course it would be quite easy to omit selected chapters and still have a useful text. The order of presentation of topics is standard: groups, then rings, and finally fields. Emphasis can be placed either on theory or on applications. A typical one-semester course might cover groups and rings while briefly touching on field theory, using Chapters 1 through 6, 9, 10, 11, 13 (the first part), 16, 17, 18 (the first part), 20, and 21. Parts of these chapters could be deleted and applications substituted according to the interests of the students and the instructor. A two-semester course emphasizing theory might cover Chapters 1 through 6, 9, 10, 11, 13 through 18, 20, 21, 22 (the first part), and 23. On the other hand, if applications are to be emphasized, the course might cover Chapters 1 through 14, and 16 through 22. In an applied course, some of the more theoretical results could be assumed or omitted. A chapter dependency chart appears below. (A broken line indicates a partial dependency.)
About the Contributors
Thomas W. Judson, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Stephen F. Austin State University. PhD University of Oregon.