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field, in algebra


in algebra, set of elements (usually numbers) that may be combined under the operations of addition and multiplication so that it constitutes an additive groupgroup,
in mathematics, system consisting of a set of elements and a binary operation a+b defined for combining two elements such that the following requirements are satisfied: (1) The set is closed under the operation; i.e.
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, the nonzero elements form a multiplicative group, and multiplication distributes over addition. The set of real numbers (see numbernumber,
entity describing the magnitude or position of a mathematical object or extensions of these concepts. The Natural Numbers

Cardinal numbers describe the size of a collection of objects; two such collections have the same (cardinal) number of objects if their
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) and the set of complex numbers are both examples of fields.

field, in physics


in physics, region throughout which a force may be exerted; examples are the gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields that surround, respectively, masses, electric charges, and magnets. The field concept was developed by M. Faraday based on his investigation of the lines of force that appear to leave and return to a magnet at its poles (see flux, magneticflux, magnetic,
in physics, term used to describe the total amount of magnetic field in a given region. The term flux was chosen because the power of a magnet seems to "flow" out of the magnet at one pole and return at the other pole in a circulating pattern, as suggested
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). Fields are used to describe all cases where two bodies separated in space exert a forceforce,
commonly, a "push" or "pull," more properly defined in physics as a quantity that changes the motion, size, or shape of a body. Force is a vector quantity, having both magnitude and direction.
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 on each other. The alternative to postulating a field is to assume that physical influences can be transmitted through empty space without any material or physical agency. Such action-at-a-distance, especially if it occurs instantaneously, violates both common sense and certain modern theories, notably relativityrelativity,
physical theory, introduced by Albert Einstein, that discards the concept of absolute motion and instead treats only relative motion between two systems or frames of reference.
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, which posits that nothing can travel faster than light. In a field description, rather than body A directly exerting a force on body B, body A (the source) creates a field in every direction around it and body B (the detector) experiences the field that exists at its position. If a change occurs at the source, its effect propagates outward through the field at a constant speed and is felt at the detector only after a certain delay in time. The field is thus a kind of "middleman" for transmitting forces. Each type of force (electric, magnetic, nuclear, or gravitational) has its own appropriate field; a body experiences the force due to a given field only if the body itself it also a source of that kind of field. The reciprocity implied by Newton's third law of motionmotion,
the change of position of one body with respect to another. The rate of change is the speed of the body. If the direction of motion is also given, then the velocity of the body is determined; velocity is a vector quantity, having both magnitude and direction, while speed
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 (equal action and reaction) is thus preserved. If two bodies exert a mutual force, they possess potential energyenergy,
in physics, the ability or capacity to do work or to produce change. Forms of energy include heat, light, sound, electricity, and chemical energy. Energy and work are measured in the same units—foot-pounds, joules, ergs, or some other, depending on the system of
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 that depends on their relative positions; it is natural to regard this energy as residing in the field the bodies create.


1. The region in which a physical agency exerts an influence, measured in terms of the force experienced by an object in that region. Thus a massive body has an associated gravitational field within which an object will feel an attractive force. There are several types of field, including gravitational, magnetic, electric, and nuclear fields, each of which has its own characteristics and exerts its influence, strong or weak, over a particular range. See also fundamental forces.
2. See field of view.



the subject of study in field theory, a branch of algebra. The concept of a field is often made use of in branches of mathematics other than algebra.

Four arithmetic operations—the primary operations of addition and multiplication and the inverse operations of subtraction and division—can be performed on ordinary numbers. Generalization yields the concept of a field. Thus, a field is a set of elements for which there are defined two operations—called addition and multiplication—that are subject to the ordinary laws (axioms) of arithmetic:

(I) Addition and multiplication are commutative and associative; that is, a + b = b + a, ab = ba, a + (b + c) = (a + b) + c, and a(bc) = (ab) c.

(II) The set contains an additive identity element 0 (zero); that is, a + 0 = a for any element a in the set. For every a there exists an inverse element —a such that a + (–a) = 0. It thus follows that the subtraction operation ab can be performed in a field.

(III) The set contains a multiplicative identity element e; that is, ae = a for any a. For each a ≠ 0 there exists an inverse element a-1 such that aa-1 = e. It thus follows that division by any a ≠ 0 is possible.

(IV) The operations of addition and multiplication are governed by the distributive law: a(b + c) = ab + ac.

The following are examples of fields.

(1) The set P of all rational numbers.

(2) The set R of all real numbers.

(3) The set K of all complex numbers.

(4) The set of all rational functions in one or several variables with real coefficients.

(5) The set of all numbers of the form Field, where a and b are rational.

(6) The field of residue classes modulo p, which is defined as follows: Let ρ be a prime number. The integers are divided into classes called residue classes by combining in one class all integers that give the same remainder when divided by p. To define the addition of two classes, take an integer from each of the two classes and form the sum of these integers. The class to which this sum belongs is the sum of the two classes. The product of classes is defined in a similar manner. With these definitions of addition and multiplication the set of classes forms a field containing ρ elements.

It follows from axioms (I) and (II) that the elements of a field form a commutative group with respect to addition and from axioms (I) and (III) that all nonzero elements of a field form a commutative group with respect to multiplication.

If a field contains an element a ≠ 0 such that na = 0 for some integer n, there exists a prime ρ such that pa = 0 for any element a in the field. The field is then said to be of characteristic p; example (6) is an illustration of this case. If na ≠ 0 for any nonzero n and a, the characteristic of the field is zero; the fields in examples (1) through (5) have characteristic zero.

If a subset F of a field G is itself a field with respect to the addition and multiplication in G, then F is called a subfield of G and G an extension of F. A field that does not have subfields is called a prime field. All prime fields are exhausted by the fields of examples (1) and (6) (for all possible choices of the prime p). Every field contains a unique prime subfield; the prime field in each of the fields in examples (2) through (5) is the field of rational numbers. The following is a “natural” problem: Describe all extensions of a given prime field. Steinitz’ theorem, which is given below, deals with just this problem.

Two types of extensions have a comparatively simple structure. One type is the simple transcendental extension, where G is the field of all rational functions of one variable with coefficients in P. The other type is the simple algebraic extension, an illustration of which is the field of example (5). Such an extension is obtained by a construction similar to that of example (6): if f(x) is a polynomial of degree n that is irreducible in F, G is the field of residue classes of polynomials of degree n modulo f(x). To obtain a simple algebraic extension of the second type, we in effect adjoin to F a root of f(x) and all elements that can be expressed in terms of this root and the elements of F. If every element of G is a root of some polynomial with coefficients in F, G is said to be an algebraic extension of F. According to Steinitz’ theorem, any extension of a field F can be obtained in two stages: first we obtain a transcendental extension T of F (by forming the field of rational functions, not necessarily of one variable, over F) and then an algebraic extension of T. Only fields in which every polynomial decomposes into a product of linear factors do not have algebraic extensions. Such fields are called algebraically closed fields. The field of complex numbers is algebraically closed (the fundamental theorem of algebra). Every field is a subfield of an algebraically closed field.

Certain types of fields have been studied in particular detail. The theory of algebraic numbers deals primarily with simple algebraic extensions of the field of rational numbers. The theory of algebraic functions investigates simple algebraic extensions of the field of rational functions with complex coefficients; considerable attention is paid to finite extensions of the field of rational functions over an arbitrary field of constants, that is, rational functions with coefficients in some arbitrary given field. Finite extensions of fields, particularly their automorphisms, are studied in Galois theory; many problems that arise in the solution of algebraic equations find an answer here. In many problems of algebra, especially in various branches of the theory of fields, normed fields play an important role. Ordered fields appear and have been studied in connection with geometric investigations.


Kurosh, A. G. Kurs vysshei algebry, 10th ed. Moscow, 1971.
Van der Waerden, B. L. Sovremennaia algebra [2nd ed.], parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947. (Translated from German.)
Chebotarev, N. G. Teoriia algebraicheskikh funktsii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Chebotarev, N. G. Osnovy teorii Galua, parts 1-2. Leningrad-Moscow, 1934-37.
Weyl, H. Algebraicheskaia teoriia chisel. Moscow, 1947. (Translated from English.)



in biology, a concept that describes a biological system the behavior of whose parts is determined by the position of the parts in the system. The existence of such systems has been determined principally by numerous experiments on the movement, elimination, and addition of parts in the embryo. In many cases, normal organisms develop from such embryos, since their components change their path of development according to their new position in the whole.

Between 1912 and 1922, A. G. Gurvich introduced the concept of field (morphogenetic field) into embryology and established the task of elucidating its laws. He identified these laws initially with an indivisible factor governing morphogenesis and later with a system of intercellular interactions that determine the movement and differentiation of embryonic cells. In 1925 the Austrian scientist P. Weiss applied the concept of field to the processes of regeneration, and in 1934 the British scientists J. Huxley and G. de Beer combined the concept with the concept of gradient. In the 1940’s through 1960’s, the British biologist C. Waddington and the French mathematician R. Thorn introduced concepts of embryonic development as a vector field divided into a limited number of zones of “structural stability.”

The range of concepts of field is being intensively developed in contemporary theoretical biology, but no unified opinion as to the intrinsic principles underlying the phenomena described by the concept of field has been worked out.


Gurvich, A. G. Teoriia biologicheskogo polia. Moscow, 1944.
Waddington, C. Morfogenez i genetika. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
Na puti k teoreticheskoi biologii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from English.)
Towards a Theoretical Biology, vols.2–4. Edinburgh, 1969-72.




in physics, a special form of matter. A field is a physical system that has an infinite number of degrees of freedom. Examples are electromagnetic fields, gravitational fields, the field of nuclear forces, and the quantized fields associated with different particles.

The concept of electric and magnetic fields was introduced in the 1830’s by M. Faraday, who adopted the concept as an alternative to the theory of long-range interaction, that is, the interaction of particles at a distance without any intermediate agent. The electrostatic interaction of charged particles according to Coulomb’s law and the gravitational interaction of bodies according to Newton’s law of universal gravitation, for example, had been interpreted in terms of action at a distance. The field concept was a resurrection of the theory of local interaction that had been proposed by R. Descartes in the first half of the 17th century. In the 1860’s, J. C. Maxwell developed Faraday’s idea of the electromagnetic field and mathematically formulated its laws.

According to the field concept, the particles participating in an interaction, such as an electromagnetic or gravitational interaction, create at each point in the space surrounding them a special state—a force field manifested in the action of a force on other particles placed at a point in this space. The first interpretation of a field to be proposed was a mechanistic one: the field was viewed as the elastic stresses of a hypothetical medium called the ether. An ether with the properties of an elastic medium, however, proved to be in sharp contradiction with the results of subsequent experiments. From the modern point of view, such a mechanistic interpretation of fields is in general meaningless, since the elastic properties of macroscopic bodies are themselves explained entirely by the electromagnetic interactions of the particles making up these bodies. The theory of relativity rejected the concept of the ether as a special elastic medium and ascribed fundamental importance to fields as a primary physical reality. Indeed, according to the theory of relativity, the rate of propagation of any interaction cannot exceed the speed of light in a vacuum. In a system of interacting particles, therefore, a force acting at a given moment on a particle in the system is not determined by the position of other particles at the same moment; that is, a change in the position of one particle affects another particle not immediately but only after some time interval. Thus, the interaction of particles whose relative speed is comparable to the speed of light can be described only in terms of the fields generated by the particles. A change in the state or position of a particle results in a change in the field generated by it. This change is reflected in another particle only after the finite time interval necessary for the change to propagate to the second particle.

Not only do fields realize interactions between particles, but free fields can exist and appear independently of the particles that generated them. This is true, for example, of electromagnetic waves. It therefore is clear that fields should be considered as a special form of matter.

To each type of interaction in nature there correspond certain fields. The description of fields in classical (nonquantum) field theory is accomplished by means of one or more continuous field functions that depend on the position coordinates of the point (x, y, z) at which the field is considered and on the time t. Thus, an electromagnetic field can be completely described by using four functions: the scalar potential ɸ(x, y, z, t) and the vector potential A(x, y, z, t), which together form a single four-dimensional vector in space-time. The strengths of electric and magnetic fields are expressed in terms of the derivatives of these functions. In the general case the number of independent field functions is determined by the number of internal degrees of freedom of the particles corresponding to the given field (see below)—for example, the particles’ spin and isotopic spin. On the basis of general principles—the requirements of relativistic invariance and of some more specific assumptions, such as the superposition principle and gauge invariance for an electromagnetic field—an expression for action can be formed from the field functions, and the principle of least action can be used to obtain differential equations defining the field. The values of the field functions at each individual point can be regarded as the generalized coordinates of the field. Consequently, the field is a physical system with an infinite number of degrees of freedom. In accordance with the general laws of mechanics, it is possible to obtain an expression for the generalized momenta of the field and to determine the densities of its energy, momentum, and angular momentum.

Experiment has shown—initially for the electromagnetic field —that the energy and momentum of a field vary discretely. In other words, fields can be associated with specific particles—for example, an electromagnetic field with photons, and a gravitational field with gravitons. The description of fields by means of field functions is thus only an approximation with a certain range of applicability. In order to take into account the discrete properties of fields—that is, to construct a quantum field theory—the generalized coordinates and momenta of fields must be regarded not as numbers but as operators for which certain commutation relations are satisfied. It may be noted that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics is made in a similar manner.

Quantum mechanics shows that a system of interacting particles can be described by means of some quantum field. Thus, not only are certain particles associated with every field, but, conversely, all known particles are associated with quantized fields. This fact is an example of the wave-particle duality of matter. Quantized fields describe the annihilation (or creation) of particles and the simultaneous production (or annihilation) of antiparticles. The electron-positron field in quantum electrodynamics is an example of such a field.

The type of the commutation relations for field operators depends on the kind of particles that correspond to the given field. W. Pauli showed in 1940 that field operators commute for particles with integral spin, and these particles obey Bose-Ein-stein statistics. For particles with half-integral spin, the operators anticommute, and the corresponding particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics. If the particles obey Bose-Einstein statistics—for example, photons and gravitons—then many particles can occupy the same quantum state; in the limiting case infinitely many particles can be in the same quantum state. At this limit the mean values of the quantized fields become ordinary classical fields—for example, classical electromagnetic and gravitational fields describable by continuous functions of the position coordinates and time. Corresponding classical fields do not exist for fields associated with particles having half-integral spin.

The present-day theory of elementary particles is constructed as a theory of interacting quantum fields, such as electron-positron, photon, and meson fields.


Landau, L. D., and E. M. Lifshits. Teoriia polia, 6th ed. Moscow, 1973. (Teoreticheskaia fizika, vol. 2.)
Bogoliubov, N. N., and D. V. Shirkov. Vvedenie v teoriiu kvantovannykh polei, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1974.


What does it mean when you dream about a field?

The meaning of a field in a dream depends on the other elements in the dream and the dream’s general atmosphere. Thus, a wild field might represent nature and the freedom of running through a field. A cultivated field might represent new growth or a harvest. A barren field can be a powerful symbol of lack as well emotional barrenness. A completely different set of associations comes to mind with respect to playing fields.


(computer science)
A specified area, such as a group of card columns or a set of bit locations in a computer word, used for a particular category of data.
That part of an electric motor or generator which produces the magnetic flux which reacts with the armature, producing the desired machine action.
One of the equal parts into which a frame is divided in interlaced scanning for television; includes one complete scanning operation from top to bottom of the picture and back again.
A region or area with a particular mineral resource, for example, a gold field.
That area or space in which a particular geophysical effect, such as gravity or magnetism, occurs and can be measured.
An algebraic system possessing two operations which have all the properties that addition and multiplication of real numbers have.
The area in which surgery is taking place, bounded on all sides by sterilized tissue or drapes. Also known as sterile field.
An entity which acts as an intermediary in interactions between particles, which is distributed over part or all of space, and whose properties are functions of space coordinates and, except for static fields, of time; examples include gravitational field, sound field, and the strain tensor of an elastic medium.
The quantum-mechanical analog of this entity, in which the function of space and time is replaced by an operator at each point in space-time.


1. The central portion of a panel that is thicker than its edges, so that it projects above the surrounding frame or wall surfaces.
2. That portion of the upper part of a wall between the cornice and dado or between the frieze and dado.


1. Sport a limited or marked off area, usually of mown grass, on which any of various sports, athletic competitions, etc., are held
2. Earth Sciences an area that is rich in minerals or other natural resources
3. Hunting the mounted followers that hunt with a pack of hounds
4. Sport
a. all the runners in a particular race or competitors in a competition
b. the runners in a race or competitors in a competition excluding the favourite
5. Cricket the fielders collectively, esp with regard to their positions
6. the area within which an object may be observed with a telescope, microscope, etc.
7. Physics
b. a region of space that is a vector field
c. a region of space under the influence of some scalar quantity, such as temperature
8. Maths a set of entities subject to two binary operations, addition and multiplication, such that the set is a commutative group under addition and the set, minus the zero, is a commutative group under multiplication and multiplication is distributive over addition
9. Maths logic the set of elements that are either arguments or values of a function; the union of its domain and range
10. Computing
a. a set of one or more characters comprising a unit of information
b. a predetermined section of a record
11. in the field Military in an area in which operations are in progress


John. 1782--1837, Irish composer and pianist, lived in Russia from 1803: invented the nocturne


(data, database)
An area of a database record, or graphical user interface form, into which a particular item of data is entered.

Example usage: "The telephone number field is not really a numerical field", "Why do we need a four-digit field for the year?".

A database column is the set of all instances of a given field from all records in a table.


A physical structure in a form, file or database that holds data. A field is one or more bytes in size. A collection of fields makes up a data record; for example, ORDER #, NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, etc. The terms field and "box" are often used synonymously such as a "search field" or "search box" on a Web page.

The field is the common denominator for database searches. For example, the STATE field is referenced when the query to find "all customers who live in Florida" is made to a database. When totaling transactions, the ORDER_AMOUNT field is summed. JOB_TITLE is referenced when looking for certain employees.

Fields, Data Elements and Data Items
Although often used interchangeably, there are several terms that refer to the same unit of storage in a data record. A "data element" is the logical definition of the field, while a "data item" is the actual data stored in the field. For example, for each CITY data element defined in a record, there are many CITY fields (structures) in the database that hold the data items (New York, Chicago, Phoenix, etc.).

The Basic Unit of Storage
Data elements describe the logical unit of data, fields are the actual storage units, and data items are the individual instances of the data elements as in this example.