Quaternion - Definition

Definition

As a set, the quaternions H are equal to R4, a four-dimensional vector space over the real numbers. H has three operations: addition, scalar multiplication, and quaternion multiplication. The sum of two elements of H is defined to be their sum as elements of R4. Similarly the product of an element of H by a real number is defined to be the same as the product in R4. To define the product of two elements in H requires a choice of basis for R4. The elements of this basis are customarily denoted as 1, i, j, and k. Every element of H can be uniquely written as a linear combination of these basis elements, that is, as a1 + bi + cj + dk, where a, b, c, and d are real numbers. The basis element 1 will be the identity element of H, meaning that multiplication by 1 does nothing, and for this reason, elements of H are usually written a + bi + cj + dk, suppressing the basis element 1. Given this basis, associative quaternion multiplication is defined by first defining the products of basis elements and then defining all other products using the distributive law.

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