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<   No. 470   2004-05-10   >

1 {scene: the fantasy tavern}
1 Frog Man: [native tongue]
1 [caption]: * Translation: What's an abelian group with an associative, distributive secondary operator and the power to corrupt mortals?
2 Draak: [native tongue]
2 Frog Man: [native tongue]
2 [caption]: I don't know. Pray tell?
2 [caption]: The One Ring!
3 Draak: Ha ha ha ha!
3 Frog Man: Ho ho ho!
3 Alvissa: Hey Draak, what's so funny?
4 Draak: Cold blood joke. You not get it.

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For the non-mathematics geeks amongst you, an abelian group is a particular type of algebraic structure - being a set of objects with a binary operation defined on it such that:

This is essentially a fancy way of saying, to give one example, "the integers, and addition" considered as a whole thing. There are other sorts of groups, some of which are not abelian, and some of which are, but they're not important for this comic. Maybe another time.

Anyway, if you take an abelian group and define a second binary operation on the elements of the set such that:

• the result of the new operation on any two elements is a member of the set,
• the new operation is associative,
• the new operation is distributive over the original operation, and
• there exists an identity element for the new operation,
then you produce what is known in mathematics terminology as a ring. Note that the second operation in a ring does not necessarily have to have inverse elements or be commutative.

This is essentially a fancy way of saying, to give another specific example, "the integers, and addition, and multiplication". Again, there are other examples, but they're not important right now.

So, if you know how to add and multiply integers, next time a mathematician asks you if you know anything about group theory and ring theory, you can say, "Why, yes!"

And for the non-Tolkien geeks amongst you, the One Ring is the fabled Ring of Power forged by the Dark Lord Sauron in the Second Age of Middle-earth, with the power to...

Oh sod it. Like anyone reading this far hasn't read the books or at least seen the movies by now.

2013-04-30 Rerun commentary: I think this is the first comic I've found as I go through adding rerun annotations which has links to Wikipedia in the original annotation. (I've replaced several earlier links to non-Wikipedia sites with ones to Wikipedia, since the non-Wikipedia sites have vanished from the face of the Internet.)

It makes me wonder: will Wikipedia be around in another 10 years? Another 20? Another 50?

Are all my links to it going to be broken one day?!?

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