In mathematics, the split-octonions are a nonassociative extension of the quaternions (or the split-quaternions). They differ from the octonions in the signature of quadratic form: the split-octonions have a split-signature (4,4) whereas the octonions have a positive-definite signature (8,0).

The split-octonions form the unique split octonion algebra over the real numbers. There are corresponding algebras over any field "F".


Cayley-Dickson construction

The octonions and the split-octonions can be obtained from the Cayley-Dickson construction by defining a multiplication on pairs of quaternions. We introduce a new imaginary unit ℓ and write a pair of quaterions ("a", "b") in the form "a" + ℓ"b". The product is defined by the rule::(a + ell b)(c + ell d) = (ac + lambda dar b) + ell(ar a d + c b)where:lambda = ell^2.If λ is chosen to be −1, we get the octonions. If, instead, it is taken to be +1 we get the split-octonions. One can also obtain the split-octonions via a Cayley-Dickson doubling of the split-quaternions. Here either choice of λ (±1) gives the split-octonions. See also split-complex numbers in general.

Multiplication table

A basis for the split-octonions is given by the set {1, "i", "j", "k", ℓ, ℓ"i", ℓ"j", ℓ"k"}. Every split-octonion "x" can be written as a linear combination of the basis elements,:x = x_0 + x_1,i + x_2,j + x_3,k + x_4,ell + x_5,ell i + x_6,ell j + x_7,ell k,with real coefficients "x""a". By linearity, multiplication of split-octonions is completely determined by the following multiplication table:

Conjugate, norm and inverse

The "conjugate" of a split-octonion "x" is given by:ar x = x_0 - x_1,i - x_2,j - x_3,k - x_4,ell - x_5,ell i - x_6,ell j - x_7,ell kjust as for the octonions. The quadratic form (or "square norm") on "x" is given by:N(x) = ar x x = (x_0^2 + x_1^2 + x_2^2 + x_3^2) - (x_4^2 + x_5^2 + x_6^2 + x_7^2)This norm is the standard pseudo-Euclidean norm on R4,4. Due to the split signature the norm "N" is isotropic, meaning there are nonzero "x" for which "N"("x") = 0. An element "x" has an (two-sided) inverse "x"−1 if and only if "N"("x") ≠ 0. In this case the inverse is given by:x^{-1} = frac{ar x}{N(x)}.


The split-octonions, like the octonions, are noncommutative and nonassociative. Also like the octonions, they form a composition algebra since the quadratic form "N" is multiplicative. That is,:N(xy) = N(x)N(y).,The split-octonions satisfy the Moufang identities and so form an alternative algebra. Therefore, by Artin's theorem, the subalgebra generated by any two elements is associative. The set of all invertible elements (i.e. those elements for which "N"("x") ≠ 0) form a Moufang loop.

Zorn's vector-matrix algebra

Since the split-octonions are nonassociative they cannot be represented by ordinary matrices (matrix multiplication is always associative). Zorn found a way to represent them as "matrices" containing both scalars and vectors using a modified version of matrix multiplication. Specifically, define a "vector-matrix" to be a 2×2 matrix of the form:egin{bmatrix}a & mathbf v\ mathbf w & bend{bmatrix}where "a" and "b" are real numbers and v and w and vectors in R3. Define multiplication of these matrices by the rule:egin{bmatrix}a & mathbf v\ mathbf w & bend{bmatrix} egin{bmatrix}a' & mathbf v'\ mathbf w' & b'end{bmatrix} = egin{bmatrix}aa' + mathbf vcdotmathbf w' & amathbf v' + b'mathbf v + mathbf w imes mathbf w'\ a'mathbf w + bmathbf w' - mathbf v imesmathbf v' & bb' + mathbf v'cdotmathbf w end{bmatrix}where · and × are the ordinary dot product and cross product of 3-vectors. With addition and scalar multiplication defined as usual the set of all such matrices forms a nonassociative unital 8-dimensional algebra over the reals, called Zorn's vector-matrix algebra.

Define the "determinant" of a vector-matrix by the rule:detegin{bmatrix}a & mathbf v\ mathbf w & bend{bmatrix} = ab - mathbf vcdotmathbf w.This determinant is a quadratic form on the Zorn's algebra which satisfies the composition rule::det(AB) = det(A)det(B).,

Zorn's vector-matrix algebra is, in fact, isomorphic to the algebra of split-octonions. Write an octonion "x" in the form:x = (a + mathbf a) + ell(b + mathbf b)where "a" and "b" are real numbers and a and b are pure quaternions regarded as vectors in R3. The isomorphism from the split-octonions to the Zorn's algebra is given by:xmapsto phi(x) = egin{bmatrix}a + b & mathbf a + mathbf b \ -mathbf a + mathbf b & a - bend{bmatrix}.This isomorphism preserves the norm since N(x) = det(phi(x)).


Split-octonions are used in the description of physical law. For example, (a) the Dirac equation in physics (the equation of motion of a free spin 1/2 particle, like e.g. an electron or a proton) can be expressed on native split-octonion arithmetic, (b) the supersymmetric quantum mechanics has an octonionic extension (see references below; split-octonions are isomorphic to hyperbolic octonions from Musean hypernumbers).


*cite book
first = F. Reese
last = Harvey
year = 1990
title = Spinors and Calibrations
publisher = Academic Press
location = San Diego
id = ISBN 0-12-329650-1

*cite book
first = T. A.
last = Springer
coauthors = F. D. Veldkamp
year = 2000
title = Octonions, Jordan Algebras and Exceptional Groups
publisher = Springer-Verlag
id = ISBN 3-540-66337-1

For physics on native split-octonion arithmetic see e.g.

* M. Gogberashvili, Octonionic Electrodynamics, "J. Phys. A: Math. Gen." 39 (2006) 7099-7104. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0305-4470/39/22/020 doi:10.1088/0305-4470/39/22/020]
* J. Köplinger, Dirac equation on hyperbolic octonions. "Appl. Math. Computation" (2006) [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amc.2006.04.005 doi:10.1016/j.amc.2006.04.005]
* V. Dzhunushaliev, Non-associativity, supersymmetry and hidden variables, "J. Math. Phys." 49, 042108 (2008); doi:10.1063/1.2907868; arXiv:0712.1647 [quant-ph] .

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