Meadows and the equational specification of division

J. A. Bergstra*, Y. Hirshfeld, J. V. Tucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The rational, real and complex numbers with their standard operations, including division, are partial algebras specified by the axiomatic concept of a field. Since the class of fields cannot be defined by equations, the theory of equational specifications of data types cannot use field theory in applications to number systems based upon rational, real and complex numbers. We study a new axiomatic concept for number systems with division that uses only equations: a meadow is a commutative ring with a total inverse operator satisfying two equations which imply 0-1=0. All fields and products of fields can be viewed as meadows. After reviewing alternate axioms for inverse, we start the development of a theory of meadows. We give a general representation theorem for meadows and find, as a corollary, that the conditional equational theory of meadows coincides with the conditional equational theory of zero totalized fields. We also prove representation results for meadows of finite characteristic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1261-1271
Number of pages11
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Issue number12-13
StatePublished - 17 Mar 2009


  • Division-by-zero
  • Equational specifications
  • Field
  • Finite fields
  • Finite meadows
  • Initial algebras
  • Meadow
  • Representation theorems
  • Total versus partial functions
  • Totalized fields
  • von Neumann regular ring


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