Quotient space (linear algebra)

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In linear algebra, the quotient of a vector space V by a subspace N is a vector space obtained by "collapsing" N to zero. The space obtained is called a quotient space and is denoted V/N (read V mod N).

Definition

Formally, the construction is as follows. Let V be a vector space over a field K, and let N be a subspace of V. We define an equivalence relation ~ on V by stating that x ~ y if x − yN. That is, x is related to y if one can be obtained from the other by adding an element of N. The equivalence class of x is often denoted

[x] = x + N

since it is given by

[x] = {x + n : nN}.

The quotient space V/N is then defined as V/~, the set of all equivalence classes over V by ~. Scalar multiplication and addition are defined on the equivalence classes by

  • α[x] = [αx] for all α ∈ K, and
  • [x] + [y] = [x+y].

It is not hard to check that these operations are well-defined (i.e. do not depend on the choice of representative). These operations turn the quotient space V/N into a vector space over K.

Examples and properties

This simplest example is to take a quotient of Rn. Let mn and let Rm be the subspace spanned by the first m standard basis vectors. Two vectors of Rn are then seen to be equivalent if and only if they are identical in the last nm coordinates. The quotient space Rn/ Rm is isomorphic to Rnm in an obvious manner.

More generally, if V is written as an (internal) direct sum of subspaces U and W:

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then the quotient space V/U is naturally isomorphic to W.

If U is a subspace of V, the codimension of U in V is defined to be the dimension of V/U. If V is finite-dimensional, this is just the difference in the dimensions of V and U:

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There is a natural epimorphism from V to the quotient space V/U given by sending x to its equivalence class [x]. The kernel (or nullspace) of this epimorphism is the subspace U. This relationship is neatly summarized by the short exact sequence

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Let T : VW be a linear operator. The kernel of T, denoted ker(T), is the set of all xV such that Tx = 0. The kernel is a subspace of V. The first isomorphism theorem of linear algebra says that the quotient space V/ker(T) is isomorphic to the image of V in W. An immediate corollary, for finite-dimensional spaces, is the rank-nullity theorem: the dimension of V is equal to the dimension of the kernel (the nullity of T) plus the dimension of the image (the rank of T).

The cokernel of a linear operator T : VW is defined to be the quotient space W/im(T).

Quotient of a Banach space by a subspace

If X is a Banach space and M is a closed subspace of X, then the quotient X/M is again a Banach space. The quotient space is already endowed with a vector space structure by the construction of the previous section. We define a norm on X/M by

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The quotient space X/M is complete with respect to the norm, so it is a Banach space.

Examples

Let C[0,1] denote the Banach space of continuous real-valued functions on the interval [0,1]. Denote the subspace of all functions fC[0,1] with f(0) = 0 by M. Then the equivalence class of some function g is determined by its value at 0, and the quotient space C[0,1] / M is isomorphic to R.

If X is a Hilbert space, then the quotient space X/M is isomorphic to the orthogonal complement of M.

See also