Essentially Unique

An object is unique if there is no other object satisfying its defining properties. An object is said to be essentially unique if uniqueness is only referred to the underlying structure, whereas the form may vary in ways that do not affect the mathematical content. For the sake of precision, the decomposition of a positive integer into prime factors is not strictly unique, but rather is essentially unique, because it is unique only up to insignificant formal modifications such as permutations of the factors (6=2·3=3·2) or changes of sign (6=2·3=(-2)·(-3)). Similarly, the group of order 2 is essentially unique--despite the evidence that the additive group Z_2 and the multiplicative group {-1,1} are different--because they are isomorphic groups, which differ only in the names given to their elements and their operations.

See also

Trivial, Unique, Uniqueness Theorem

This entry contributed by Margherita Barile

Explore with Wolfram|Alpha

Cite this as:

Barile, Margherita. "Essentially Unique." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource, created by Eric W. Weisstein.

Subject classifications