Algebraic structures of tropical mathematics

Zur Izhakian, Manfred Knebusch, Louis Rowen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Tropical mathematics often is defined over an ordered cancellative monoid $\tM$, usually taken to be $(\RR, +)$ or $(\QQ, +)$. Although a rich theory has arisen from this viewpoint, cf. [L1], idempotent semirings possess a restricted algebraic structure theory, and also do not reflect certain valuation-theoretic properties, thereby forcing researchers to rely often on combinatoric techniques. In this paper we describe an alternative structure, more compatible with valuation theory, studied by the authors over the past few years, that permits fuller use of algebraic theory especially in understanding the underlying tropical geometry. The idempotent max-plus algebra $A$ of an ordered monoid $\tM$ is replaced by $R: = L\times \tM$, where $L$ is a given indexing semiring (not necessarily with 0). In this case we say $R$ layered by $L$. When $L$ is trivial, i.e, $L=\{1\}$, $R$ is the usual bipotent max-plus algebra. When $L=\{1,\infty\}$ we recover the "standard" supertropical structure with its "ghost" layer. When $L = \NN $ we can describe multiple roots of polynomials via a "layering function" $s: R \to L$. Likewise, one can define the layering $s: R^{(n)} \to L^{(n)}$ componentwise; vectors $v_1, \dots, v_m$ are called tropically dependent if each component of some nontrivial linear combination $\sum \a_i v_i$ is a ghost, for "tangible" $\a_i \in R$. Then an $n\times n$ matrix has tropically dependent rows iff its permanent is a ghost. We explain how supertropical algebras, and more generally layered algebras, provide a robust algebraic foundation for tropical linear algebra, in which many classical tools are available. In the process, we provide some new results concerning the rank of d-independent sets (such as the fact that they are semi-additive),put them in the context of supertropical bilinear forms, and lay the matrix theory in the framework of identities of semirings.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTropical and idempotent mathematics and applications
PublisherAmer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameContemp. Math.
PublisherAmer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI


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