Definition:Factorial/Multiindices

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Definition

Let $\alpha$ be a multiindex, indexed by a set $J$ such that for each $j \in J$, $\alpha_j \geq 0$.


Then we define:

$\displaystyle\alpha! = \prod_{j \mathop \in J} \alpha_j!$

where the factorial on the right is a factorial of natural numbers.

Note that by definition, all by finitely many of the $\alpha_j$ are zero, so the product over $J$ is convergent.


Historical Note

The symbol $!$ used on $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$ for the factorial, which is now universal, was introduced by Christian Kramp in his $1808$ work Élémens d'arithmétique universelle.

Before that, various symbols were used whose existence is now of less importance.

Notations for $n!$ in history include the following:

$\sqbrk n$ as used by Euler
$\mathop{\Pi} n$ as used by Gauss
$\left\lvert {\kern-1pt \underline n} \right.$ and $\left. {\underline n \kern-1pt} \right\rvert$, once popular in England and Italy.


Augustus De Morgan declared his reservations about Kramp's notation thus:

Amongst the worst barbarisms is that of introducing symbols which are quite new in mathematical, but perfectly understood in common, language. Writers have borrowed from the Germans the abbreviation $n!$ ... which gives their pages the appearance of expressing admiration that $2$, $3$, $4$, etc., should be found in mathematical results.
-- 1929: Florian Cajori: A History of Mathematical Notations: Volume 2


The use of $n!$ for non-integer $n$ is uncommon, as the Gamma function tends to be used instead.