Mathematical structure

For the notion of "structure" in mathematical logic, see Structure (mathematical logic).

In mathematics, a structure on a set is an additional mathematical object that, in some manner, attaches (or relates) to that set to endow it with some additional meaning or significance.

A partial list of possible structures are measures, algebraic structures (groups, fields, etc.), topologies, metric structures (geometries), orders, events, equivalence relations, differential structures, and categories.

Sometimes, a set is endowed with more than one structure simultaneously; this enables mathematicians to study it more richly. For example, an ordering imposes a rigid form, shape, or topology on the set. As another example, if a set has both a topology and is a group, and these two structures are related in a certain way, the set becomes a topological group.

Mappings between sets which preserve structures (so that structures in the source or domain are mapped to equivalent structures in the destination or codomain) are of special interest in many fields of mathematics. Examples are homomorphisms, which preserve algebraic structures; homeomorphisms, which preserve topological structures; and diffeomorphisms, which preserve differential structures.


In 1939, the French group with the pseudonym Nicolas Bourbaki saw structures as the root of mathematics. They first mentioned them in their "Fascicule" of Theory of Sets and expanded it into Chapter IV of the 1957 edition.[1] They identified three mother structures: algebraic, topological, and order.[1][2]

Example: the real numbers

The set of real numbers has several standard structures:

There are interfaces among these:

See also


  1. 1 2 Corry, Leo (September 1992). "Nicolas Bourbaki and the concept of mathematical structure". Synthese. 92 (3): 315348. doi:10.1007/bf00414286. JSTOR 20117057.
  2. Wells, Richard B. (2010). Biological signal processing and computational neuroscience (PDF). pp. 296335. Retrieved 7 April 2016.

Further reading

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