# Definition:Identity (Abstract Algebra)/Two-Sided Identity

## Definition

Let $\struct {S, \circ}$ be an algebraic structure.

An element $e \in S$ is called an **identity (element)** if and only if it is both a left identity and a right identity:

- $\forall x \in S: x \circ e = x = e \circ x$

In Identity is Unique it is established that an identity element, if it exists, is unique within $\struct {S, \circ}$.

Thus it is justified to refer to it as **the** identity (of a given algebraic structure).

This identity is often denoted $e_S$, or $e$ if it is clearly understood what structure is being discussed.

## Also known as

Other terms which are seen that mean the same as **identity** are:

**Two-sided identity**, to reflect the fact that it is both a left identity and a right identity.**Neutral element**, which is perfectly okay, but considered slightly old-fashioned.**Unit element**, but this is not recommended as it is too easy to confuse it with a unit of a ring.**Unity**, but this is generally reserved for a ring unity or unity of field.**Zero**, but it is best to reserve that term for a zero element.- The
**trivial element**, in the context of a group.

The symbols used for an **identity element** are often found to include $0$ and $1$. In the context of the general algebraic structure, these are not recommended, as this can cause confusion.

Some sources use $I$ for the **identity**.

## Examples

### Symmetry Group of Square

Consider the **symmetry group of the square**:

Let $\mathcal S = ABCD$ be a square.

The various symmetry mappings of $\mathcal S$ are:

- The identity mapping $e$
- The rotations $r, r^2, r^3$ of $90^\circ, 180^\circ, 270^\circ$ counterclockwise respectively about the center of $\mathcal S$.
- The reflections $t_x$ and $t_y$ are reflections about the $x$ and $y$ axis respectively.
- The reflection $t_{AC}$ is a reflection about the diagonal through vertices $A$ and $C$.
- The reflection $t_{BD}$ is a reflection about the diagonal through vertices $B$ and $D$.

This group is known as the **symmetry group of the square**.

The mapping $e$ which leaves $\SS$ unchanged is the **identity element**.

## Also see

- Results about
**identity elements**can be found here.

## Sources

- 1964: Iain T. Adamson:
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*Modern Algebra*... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $\text I$: Algebraic Structures: $\S 4$: Neutral Elements and Inverses - 1967: John D. Dixon:
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*Finitely Generated Commutative Monoids*... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $1$: Basic Definitions and Results