Vectors, Matrices; Real, Complex, Quaternion; custom groups and rings for Node.js

New: checkout matrices and vectors made of strings, with cyclic algebra.

NOTA BENE Imagine all code examples below as written in some REPL where expected output is documented as a comment.

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Algebra OnQuaternionsAndOctonions

Table Of Contents


algebra is under development, but API should not change until version 1.0.

I am currently adding more tests and examples to achieve a stable version.

Many functionalities of previous versions are now in separated atomic packages:



With npm do

npm install algebra

With bower do

bower install algebra

or use a CDN adding this to your HTML page

<script src=""></script>

Quick start

This is a 60 seconds tutorial to get your hands dirty with algebra.

First of all, import algebra package.

var algebra = require('algebra')

Try it out

All code in the examples below should be contained into a single file, like test/quickStart.js.

view on requirebin


Use the Real numbers as scalars.

var R = algebra.Real

Every operator is implemented both as a static function and as an object method.

Static operators return raw data, while class methods return object instances.

Use static addition operator to add three numbers.

R.add(1, 2, 3) // 1 + 2 + 3 = 6

Create two real number objects: x = 2, y = -2

var x = new R(2)
var y = new R(-2)

The value r is the result of x multiplied by y.

// 2 * (-2) = -4
var r = x.mul(y)

r // Scalar { data: -4 }

// x and y are not changed // 2 // -2

Raw numbers are coerced, operators can be chained when it makes sense. Of course you can reassign x, for example, x value will be 0.1: x -> x + 3 -> x * 2 -> x ^-1

// ((2 + 3) * 2)^(-1) = 0.1
x = x.add(3).mul(2).inv()

x // Scalar { data: 0.1 }

Comparison operators equal and notEqual are available, but they cannot be chained.

x.equal(0.1) // true
x.notEqual(Math.PI) // true

You can also play with Complexes.

var C = algebra.Complex

var z1 = new C([1, 2])
var z2 = new C([3, 4])

z1 = z1.mul(z2)

z1 // Scalar { data: [-5, 10] }

z1 = z1.conj().mul([2, 0]) // [-10, -20]


Create vector space of dimension 2 over Reals.

var R2 = algebra.VectorSpace(R)(2)

Create two vectors and add them.

var v1 = new R2([0, 1])
var v2 = new R2([1, -2])

// v1 -> v1 + v2 -> [0, 1] + [1, -2] = [1, -1]
v1 = v1.add(v2)

v1 // Vector { data: [1, -1] }


Create space of matrices 3 x 2 over Reals.

var R3x2 = algebra.MatrixSpace(R)(3, 2)

Create a matrix.

//       | 1 1 |
//  m1 = | 0 1 |
//       | 1 0 |
var m1 = new R3x2([1, 1,
                   0, 1,
                   1, 0])

Multiply m1 by v1, the result is a vector v3 with dimension 3. In fact we are multiplying a 3 x 2 matrix by a 2 dimensional vector, but v1 is traited as a column vector so it is like a 2 x 1 matrix.

Then, following the row by column multiplication law we have

//  3 x 2  by  2 x 1  which gives a   3 x 1
//      ↑      ↑
//      +------+----→  by removing the middle indices.
//                   | 1 1 |
//    v3 = m1 * v1 = | 0 1 | * [1 , -1] = [0, -1, 1]
//                   | 1 0 |

var v3 = m1.mul(v1) // [0, -1, 1]

Let’s try with two square matrices 2 x 2.

var R2x2 = algebra.MatrixSpace(R)(2, 2)

var m2 = new R2x2([1, 0,
                   0, 2])

var m3 = new R2x2([0, -1,
                   1, 0])

m2 = m2.mul(m3)

m2 // Matrix { data: [0, -1, 2, 0] }

Since m2 is a square matrix we can calculate its determinant.

m2.determinant // Scalar { data: 2 }


About operators

All operators are implemented as static methods and as object methods. In both cases, operands are coerced to raw data. As an example, consider addition of vectors in a plane.

var R2 = algebra.R2

var vector1 = new R2([1, 2])
var vector2 = new R2([3, 4])

The following static methods, give the same result: [4, 6].

R2.addition(vector1, [3, 4])
R2.addition([1, 2], vector2)
R2.addition(vector1, vector2)

The following object methods, give the same result: a vector instance with data [4, 6].

var vector3 = vector1.addition([3, 4])
var vector4 = vector1.addition(vector2)

R2.equal(vector3, vector4) // true

Operators can be chained and accept multiple arguments when it makes sense.

vector1.addition(vector1, vector1).equality([3, 6]) // true

Objects are immutable // still [1, 2]



Create an algebra cyclic ring, by passing its elements. The elements are provided as a string or an array, which lenght must be a prime number. This is necessary, otherwise the result would be a wild land where you can find zero divisor beasts.

Let’s create a cyclic ring containing lower case letters, numbers and the blank char. How many are they? They are 26 + 10 + 1 = 37, that is prime! We like it.

var Cyclic = algebra.Cyclic

// The elements String or Array length must be prime.
var elements = ' abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwyxz0123456789'

var Alphanum = Cyclic(elements)

Operators derive from modular arithmetic

var a = new Alphanum('a')

Alphanum.addition('a', 'b') // 'c'

You can also create element instances, and do any kind of operations.

var x = new Alphanum('a')

var y = x.add('c', 'a', 't')
         .mul('i', 's')
         .add('o', 'n')
         .sub('t', 'h', 'e')
         .div('t', 'a', 'b', 'l', 'e') // 's'

Yes, they are scalars so you can build vector or matrix spaces on top of them.

var VectorStrings2 = algebra.VectorSpace(Alphanum)(2)
var MatrixStrings2x2 = algebra.MatrixSpace(Alphanum)(2)

var vectorOfStrings = new VectorStrings2(['o', 'k'])

var matrixOfStrings = new MatrixStrings2x2(['c', 'o',
                                            'o', 'l'])

matrixOfStrings.mul(vectorOfStrings).data // ['x', 'y']

Note that, in the particular example above, since the matrix is simmetric it commutes with the vector, hence changing the order of the operands the result is still the same.

vectorOfStrings.mul(matrixOfStrings).data // ['x', 'y']


A composition algebra is one of ℝ, ℂ, ℍ, O: Real, Complex, Quaternion, Octonion. A generic function is provided to iterate the Cayley-Dickson construction over any field.

CompositionAlgebra(field[, num])

Let’s use for example the algebra.Boole which implements Boolean Algebra by exporting an object with all the stuff needed by algebra-ring npm package.

var CompositionAlgebra = algebra.CompositionAlgebra

var Boole = algebra.Boole

var Bit = CompositionAlgebra(Boole)

Bit.contains(false) // true
Bit.contains(4) // false

var bit = new Bit(true)
Bit.addition(false).data // true

Not so exciting, let’s build something more interesting. Let’s pass a second parameter, that is used to build a Composition algebra over the given field. It is something experimental also for me, right now I am writing this but I still do not know how it will behave. My idea (idea feliz) is that

A byte is an octonion of bits

Maybe we can discover some new byte operator, taken from octonion rich algebra structure. Create an octonion algebra over the binary field, a.k.a Z2 and create the eight units.

// n must be a power of two
var Byte = CompositionAlgebra(Boole, 8)

// Use a single char var for better indentation.
var t = true
var f = false

var byte1 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte2 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte3 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte4 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte5 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte6 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte7 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])
var byte8 = new Byte([t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t])

The first one corresponds to one, while the rest are immaginary units, but since the underlying field is Z2, -1 corresponds to 1.

bytet.mul(bytet).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte2.mul(byte2).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte3.mul(byte3).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte4.mul(byte4).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte5.mul(byte5).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte6.mul(byte6).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte7.mul(byte7).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]
byte8.mul(byte8).data // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]

Keeping in mind that Byte space defined above is an algebra, i.e. it has composition laws well defined, you maybe already noticed that, for example byte2 could be seen as corresponding to 4, but in this strange structure we created, 4 * 4 = 2.

You can play around with this structure.

var max = byte1.add(byte2).add(byte3).add(byte4)
               .add(byte5).add(byte6).add(byte7).add(byte8) // [t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t]


The scalars are the building blocks, they are the elements you can use to create vectors, matrices, tensors. They are the underneath set enriched with a ring structure which consists of two binary operators that generalize the arithmetic operations of addition and multiplication. A ring that has the commutativity property is called abelian (in honour to Abel) or also a field.

Ok, let’s make a simple example. Real numbers, with common addition and multiplication are a scalar field.

Scalar attributes

Is the neutral element for multiplication operator.

Is the neutral element for addition operator.

Scalar order

It is always 0 for scalars, see also Tensor order.


Scalar operators

Scalar set operators

Scalar.contains(scalar1, scalar2[, scalar3, … ])

Scalar equality

Scalar.equality(scalar1, scalar2)

Scalar disequality

Scalar.disequality(scalar1, scalar2)

Scalar addition

Scalar.addition(scalar1, scalar2[, scalar3, … ])
scalar1.addition(scalar2[, scalar3, … ])

Scalar subtraction

Scalar.subtraction(scalar1, scalar2[, … ])
scalar1.subtraction(scalar2[, scalar3, … ])

Scalar multiplication

Scalar.multiplication(scalar1, scalar2[, scalar3, … ])
scalar1.multiplication(scalar2[, scalar3, … ])

Scalar division

Scalar.division(scalar1, scalar2[, scalar3, … ])
scalar1.division(scalar2[, scalar3, … ])

Scalar negation


Scalar inversion


Scalar conjugation



Inherits everything from Scalar.

var Real = algebra.Real

Real.addition(1, 2) // 3

var pi = new Real(Math.PI)
var twoPi = pi.mul(2)

Real.subtraction(twoPi, 2 * Math.PI) // 0


Inherits everything from Scalar.

It is said the Gauss brain is uncommonly big and folded, much more than the Einstein brain (both are conserved and studied). Gauss was one of the biggest mathematicians and discovered many important results in many mathematic areas. One of its biggest intuitions, in my opinion, was to realize that the Complex number field is geometrically a plane. The Complex numbers are an extension on the Real numbers, they have a real part and an imaginary part. The imaginary numbers, as named by Descartes later, were discovered by italian mathematicians Cardano, Bombelli among others as a trick to solve third order equations.

Complex numbers are a goldmine for mathematics, they are incredibly rich of deepest beauty: just as a divulgative example, take a look to the Mandelbrot set, but please trust me, this is nothing compared to the divine nature of Complex numbers.

Mandelbrot Set

The first thing I noticed when I started to study the Complex numbers is conjugation. Every Complex number has its conjugate, that is its simmetric counterparte respect to the Real numbers line.

var Complex = algebra.Complex

var complex1 = new Complex([1, 2])

complex1.conjugation() // Complex { data: [1, -2] }


Inherits everything from Scalar.


Inherits everything from Scalar.

Common spaces


The real line.

It is in alias of Real.

var R = algebra.R


The real plane.

var R2 = algebra.R2

It is in alias of VectorSpace(Real)(2).


The real space.

var R3 = algebra.R3

It is in alias of VectorSpace(Real)(3).


Real square matrices of rank 2.

var R2x2 = algebra.R2x2

It is in alias of MatrixSpace(Real)(2).


The complex numbers.

It is in alias of Complex.

var C = algebra.C


Usually it is used the H in honour of Sir Hamilton.

It is in alias of Quaternion.

var H = algebra.H


A Vector extends the concept of number, since it is defined as a tuple of numbers. For example, the Cartesian plane is a set where every point has two coordinates, the famous (x, y) that is in fact a vector of dimension 2. A Scalar itself can be identified with a vector of dimension 1.

We have already seen an implementation of the plain: R2.

If you want to find the position of an airplain, you need latitute, longitude but also altitude, hence three coordinates. That is a 3-ple, a tuple with three numbers, a vector of dimension 3.

An implementation of the vector space of dimension 3 over reals is given by R3.

A Vector class inherits everything from Tensor.


Vector dimension

Strictly speaking, dimension of a Vector is the number of its elements.


It is a static class attribute.

R2.dimension // 2
R3.dimension // 3

It is also defined as a static instance attribute.

var vector = new R2([1, 1])

vector.dimension // 2

Vector norm

The norm, at the end, is the square of the vector length: the good old Pythagorean theorem. It is usually defined as the sum of the squares of the coordinates. Anyway, it must be a function that, given an element, returns a positive real number. For example in Complex numbers it is defined as the multiplication of an element and its conjugate: it works as a well defined norm. It is a really important property since it shapes a metric space. In the Euclidean topology it gives us the common sense of space, but it is also important in other spaces, like a functional space. In fact a norm gives us a distance defined as its square root, thus it defines a metric space and hence a topology: a lot of good stuff.


Is a static operator that returns the square of the lenght of the vector.

R2.norm([3, 4]).data // 25


This implements a static attribute that returns the square of the length of the vector instance.

var vector = new R2([1, 2]) // 5

Vector addition

Vector.addition(vector1, vector2)
R2.addition([2, 1], [1, 2]) // [3, 3]
var vector1 = new R2([2, 1])
var vector2 = new R2([2, 2])

var vector3 = vector1.addition(vector2)

vector3 // Vector { data: [4, 3] }

Vector cross product

It is defined only in dimension three. See Cross product on wikipedia.

Vector.crossProduct(vector1, vector2)
R3.crossProduct([3, -3, 1], [4, 9, 2]) // [-15, 2, 39]
var vector1 = new R3([3, -3, 1])
var vector2 = new R3([4, 9, 2])

var vector3 = vector1.crossProduct(vector2)

vector3 // Vector { data: [-15, 2, 39] }


A Matrix class inherits everything from Tensor.

MatrixSpace(Scalar)(numRows[, numCols])




Matrix multiplication

Matrix.multiplication(matrix1, matrix2)

Matrix inversion

It is defined only for square matrices which determinant is not zero.


Matrix determinant

It is defined only for square matrices.


Matrix adjoint




Tensor indices


Tensor order

It represents the number of varying indices.


Tensor.contains(tensor1, tensor2[, tensor3, … ])

Tensor equality

var T2x2x2 = TensorSpace(Real)([2, 2, 2])

var tensor1 = new T2x2x2([1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8])
var tensor2 = new T2x2x2([2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9])
Tensor.equality(tensor1, tensor2)
T2x2x2.equality(tensor1, tensor1) // true
T2x2x2.equality(tensor1, tensor2) // false
tensor1.equality(tensor1) // true
tensor1.equality(tensor2) // false

Tensor disequality

Tensor.disequality(tensor1, tensor2)


Tensor addition

Tensor.addition(tensor1, tensor2[, tensor3, … ])
tensor1.addition(tensor2[, tensor3, … ])

Tensor subtraction

Tensor.subtraction(tensor1, tensor2[, tensor3, … ])
tensor1.subtraction(tensor2[, tensor3, … ])

Tensor product

Tensor.product(tensor1, tensor2)

Tensor contraction


Tensor negation


Tensor scalar multiplication

Tensor.scalarMultiplication(tensor, scalar)