In mathematics, the absolute value or modulus of a real number , denoted, is the nonnegative value of without regard to its sign. Namely, if is positive, and if is negative (in which case is positive), and . For example, the absolute value of 3 is 3, and the absolute value of −3 is also 3. The absolute value of a number may be thought of as its distance from zero.
Generalisations of the absolute value for real numbers occur in a wide variety of mathematical settings. For example, an absolute value is also defined for the complex numbers, the quaternions, ordered rings, fields and vector spaces. The absolute value is closely related to the notions of magnitude, distance, and norm in various mathematical and physical contexts.
In 1806, JeanRobert Argand introduced the term module, meaning unit of measure in French, specifically for the complex absolute value,^{[1]} ^{[2]} and it was borrowed into English in 1866 as the Latin equivalent modulus. The term absolute value has been used in this sense from at least 1806 in French^{[3]} and 1857 in English.^{[4]} The notation, with a vertical bar on each side, was introduced by Karl Weierstrass in 1841.^{[5]} Other names for absolute value include numerical value and magnitude. In programming languages and computational software packages, the absolute value of x is generally represented by abs(''x'')
, or a similar expression.
The vertical bar notation also appears in a number of other mathematical contexts: for example, when applied to a set, it denotes its cardinality; when applied to a matrix, it denotes its determinant. Vertical bars denote the absolute value only for algebraic objects for which the notion of an absolute value is defined, notably an element of a normed division algebra, for example a real number, a complex number, or a quaternion. A closely related but distinct notation is the use of vertical bars for either the Euclidean norm^{[6]} or sup norm^{[7]} of a vector in
\R^{n}
\ ⋅ \_{2}
\ ⋅ \_{infty}
For any real number , the absolute value or modulus of is denoted by (a vertical bar on each side of the quantity) and is defined as^{[8]}
x= \begin{cases} x,&ifx\geq0\\ x,&ifx<0. \end{cases}
The absolute value of is thus always either positive or zero, but never negative: when itself is negative, then its absolute value is necessarily positive .
From an analytic geometry point of view, the absolute value of a real number is that number's distance from zero along the real number line, and more generally the absolute value of the difference of two real numbers is the distance between them. The notion of an abstract distance function in mathematics can be seen to be a generalisation of the absolute value of the difference (see "Distance" below).
Since the square root symbol represents the unique positive square root (when applied to a positive number), it follows that
x=\sqrt{x^{2}}
is equivalent to the definition above, and may be used as an alternative definition of the absolute value of real numbers.^{[9]}
The absolute value has the following four fundamental properties (a, b are real numbers), that are used for generalization of this notion to other domains:
a  \ge 0  Nonnegativity  
a  = 0 \iff a = 0  Positivedefiniteness  
ab  = \left  a\right  \left  b\right  Multiplicativity  
a+b  \le  a  +  b  Subadditivity, specifically the triangle inequality 
Nonnegativity, positive definiteness, and multiplicativity are readily apparent from the definition. To see that subadditivity holds, first note that one of the two alternatives of taking as either or guarantees that
s ⋅ (a+b)=a+b\geq0.
1 ⋅ x\lex
+1 ⋅ x\lex
s ⋅ x\leqx
x
a+b=s ⋅ (a+b)=s ⋅ a+s ⋅ b\leqa+b
Some additional useful properties are given below. These are either immediate consequences of the definition or implied by the four fundamental properties above.
l  \left  a\right  \bigr  =  a  Idempotence (the absolute value of the absolute value is the absolute value)  
\left  a\right  =  a  Evenness (reflection symmetry of the graph)  
a  b  = 0 \iff a = b  Identity of indiscernibles (equivalent to positivedefiniteness)  
a  b  \le  a  c  +  c  b  Triangle inequality (equivalent to subadditivity)  
\left  \frac\right  = \frac b\ne0  Preservation of division (equivalent to multiplicativity)  
ab  \geq \bigl  \left  a\right   \left  b\right  \bigr  Reverse triangle inequality (equivalent to subadditivity) 
Two other useful properties concerning inequalities are:
a\leb\iffb\lea\leb
a\geb\iffa\leb
a\geb
These relations may be used to solve inequalities involving absolute values. For example:
x3  \le 9  \iff9\lex3\le9  
\iff6\lex\le12 
The absolute value, as "distance from zero", is used to define the absolute difference between arbitrary real numbers, the standard metric on the real numbers.
Since the complex numbers are not ordered, the definition given at the top for the real absolute value cannot be directly applied to complex numbers. However, the geometric interpretation of the absolute value of a real number as its distance from 0 can be generalised. The absolute value of a complex number is defined by the Euclidean distance of its corresponding point in the complex plane from the origin. This can be computed using the Pythagorean theorem: for any complex number
z=x+iy,
where and are real numbers, the absolute value or modulus of is denoted and is defined by^{[10]}
z=\sqrt{[\operatorname{Re}(z)]^{2}+[\operatorname{Im}(z)]^{2}=\sqrt{x}^{2}+y^{2},}
where Re(z) = x and Im(z) = y denote the real and imaginary parts of z, respectively. When the imaginary part is zero, this coincides with the definition of the absolute value of the real number .
When a complex number is expressed in its polar form as
z=re^{i},
with $r\; =\; \backslash sqrt\; \backslash ge\; 0$ (and is the argument (or phase) of z), its absolute value is
z=r.
Since the product of any complex number and its complex conjugate with the same absolute value, is always the nonnegative real number
\left(x^{2}+y^{2\right)}
z ⋅ \overline{z},
z=\sqrt{z ⋅ \overline{z}}.
The complex absolute value shares the four fundamental properties given above for the real absolute value.
In the language of group theory, the multiplicative property may be rephrased as follows: the absolute value is a group homomorphism from the multiplicative group of the complex numbers onto the group under multiplication of positive real numbers.^{[11]}
Importantly, the property of subadditivity ("triangle inequality") extends to any finite collection of complex This inequality also applies to infinite families, provided that the infinite series $\backslash sum\_^\backslash infty\; z\_k$ is absolutely convergent. If Lebesgue integration is viewed as the continuous analog of summation, then this inequality is analogously obeyed by complexvalued, measurable functions
f:\R\to\C
[a,b]
The triangle inequality, as given by, can be demonstrated by applying three easily verified properties of the complex numbers: Namely, for every complex number
z\in\Complex
c\in\Complex
c=1
z=c ⋅ z
\operatorname{Re}(z)\leqz
Also, for a family of complex numbers In particular,
Proof of : Choose
c\in\C
c=1
\left\sum_{k}z_{k\right }\overset{(1)}{=} c\left(\sum_{k}z_{k\right)}=\sum_{k}cz_{k }\overset{(3)}{=} \sum_{k\operatorname{Re}(cz}_{k) }\overset{(2)}{\le} \sum_{k}cz_{k}=\sum_{k}\leftc\right\leftz_{k\right}=\sum_{k}\leftz_{k}\right.
It is clear from this proof that equality holds in exactly if all the
cz_{k}
z_{k}
z_{k}=a_{k\zeta}
\zeta
a_{k}\geq0
Since
f
f
z_{k}
The real absolute value function is continuous everywhere. It is differentiable everywhere except for . It is monotonically decreasing on the interval and monotonically increasing on the interval . Since a real number and its opposite have the same absolute value, it is an even function, and is hence not invertible. The real absolute value function is a piecewise linear, convex function.
Both the real and complex functions are idempotent.
The absolute value function of a real number returns its value irrespective of its sign, whereas the sign (or signum) function returns a number's sign irrespective of its value. The following equations show the relationship between these two functions:
x=xsgn(x),
xsgn(x)=x,
sgn(x)=
x  
x 
=
x  
x 
.
The real absolute value function has a derivative for every, but is not differentiable at . Its derivative for is given by the step function:^{[13]} ^{[14]}
d\leftx\right  
dx 
=
x  
x 
=\begin{cases}1&x<0\ 1&x>0.\end{cases}
The real absolute value function is an example of a continuous function that achieves a global minimum where the derivative does not exist.
The subdifferential of at is the interval .^{[15]}
The complex absolute value function is continuous everywhere but complex differentiable nowhere because it violates the Cauchy–Riemann equations.^{[13]}
The second derivative of with respect to is zero everywhere except zero, where it does not exist. As a generalised function, the second derivative may be taken as two times the Dirac delta function.
The antiderivative (indefinite integral) of the real absolute value function is
\int\leftx\rightdx=
x\leftx\right  
2 
+C,
where is an arbitrary constant of integration. This is not a complex antiderivative because complex antiderivatives can only exist for complexdifferentiable (holomorphic) functions, which the complex absolute value function is not.
See also: Metric space. The absolute value is closely related to the idea of distance. As noted above, the absolute value of a real or complex number is the distance from that number to the origin, along the real number line, for real numbers, or in the complex plane, for complex numbers, and more generally, the absolute value of the difference of two real or complex numbers is the distance between them.
The standard Euclidean distance between two points
a=(a_{1,}a_{2,}...,a_{n)}
and
b=(b_{1,}b_{2,}...,b_{n)}
in Euclidean space is defined as:
n(a  
\sqrt{style\sum  
ib 
2}.  
i) 
This can be seen as a generalisation, since for
a_{1}
b_{1}
a_{1}b_{1}=\sqrt{(a_{1}
2}  
b  
1) 
=
1(a  
\sqrt{style\sum  
ib 
2},  
i) 
and for
a=a_{1}+ia_{2}
b=b_{1}+ib_{2}
a  b  =  (a_1 + i a_2)  (b_1 + i b_2)  
=  (a_1  b_1) + i(a_2  b_2)  
=\sqrt{(a_{1}
+(a_{2}
=

The above shows that the "absolute value"distance, for real and complex numbers, agrees with the standard Euclidean distance, which they inherit as a result of considering them as one and twodimensional Euclidean spaces, respectively.
The properties of the absolute value of the difference of two real or complex numbers: nonnegativity, identity of indiscernibles, symmetry and the triangle inequality given above, can be seen to motivate the more general notion of a distance function as follows:
A real valued function on a set is called a metric (or a distance function) on , if it satisfies the following four axioms:^{[16]}
d(a,b)\ge0  Nonnegativity  
d(a,b)=0\iffa=b  Identity of indiscernibles  
d(a,b)=d(b,a)  Symmetry  
d(a,b)\led(a,c)+d(c,b)  Triangle inequality 
The definition of absolute value given for real numbers above can be extended to any ordered ring. That is, if is an element of an ordered ring R, then the absolute value of , denoted by, is defined to be:^{[17]}
a=\left\{ \begin{array}{rl} a,&ifa\geq0\\ a,&ifa<0. \end{array}\right.
where is the additive inverse of , 0 is the additive identity, and < and ≥ have the usual meaning with respect to the ordering in the ring.
See main article: Absolute value (algebra). The four fundamental properties of the absolute value for real numbers can be used to generalise the notion of absolute value to an arbitrary field, as follows.
A realvalued function on a field is called an absolute value (also a modulus, magnitude, value, or valuation)^{[18]} if it satisfies the following four axioms:
v(a)\ge0  Nonnegativity  
v(a)=0\iffa=0  Positivedefiniteness  
v(ab)=v(a)v(b)  Multiplicativity  
v(a+b)\lev(a)+v(b)  Subadditivity or the triangle inequality 
Where 0 denotes the additive identity of . It follows from positivedefiniteness and multiplicativity that, where 1 denotes the multiplicative identity of . The real and complex absolute values defined above are examples of absolute values for an arbitrary field.
If is an absolute value on , then the function on, defined by, is a metric and the following are equivalent:
d(x,y)\leqmax(d(x,z),d(y,z))
n  
v\left({style\sum  
k=1 
}1\right)\le1
n\in\N
v(a)\le1 ⇒ v(1+a)\le1
a\inF.
v(a+b)\lemax\{v(a),v(b)\}
a,b\inF
An absolute value which satisfies any (hence all) of the above conditions is said to be nonArchimedean, otherwise it is said to be Archimedean.^{[19]}
See main article: Norm (mathematics). Again the fundamental properties of the absolute value for real numbers can be used, with a slight modification, to generalise the notion to an arbitrary vector space.
A realvalued function on a vector space over a field , represented as, is called an absolute value, but more usually a norm, if it satisfies the following axioms:
For all in , and, in ,
\  \mathbf\  \ge 0  Nonnegativity  
\  \mathbf\  = 0 \iff \mathbf = 0  Positivedefiniteness  
\  a \mathbf\  =  a  \  \mathbf\  Positive homogeneity or positive scalability  
\  \mathbf + \mathbf\  \le \  \mathbf\  + \  \mathbf\  Subadditivity or the triangle inequality 
The norm of a vector is also called its length or magnitude.
R^{n}
\(x_{1,}x_{2,}...,x_{n)}\=
n  
\sqrt{style\sum  
i=1 
2}  
x  
i 
is a norm called the Euclidean norm. When the real numbers
R
R^{1}
R^{1}
R^{1}
The complex absolute value is a special case of the norm in an inner product space, which is identical to the Euclidean norm when the complex plane is identified as the Euclidean plane
R^{2}
See main article: Composition algebra. Every composition algebra A has an involution x → x* called its conjugation. The product in A of an element x and its conjugate x* is written N(x) = x x* and called the norm of x.
The real numbers
R
C
H
In general the norm of a composition algebra may be a quadratic form that is not definite and has null vectors. However, as in the case of division algebras, when an element x has a nonzero norm, then x has a multiplicative inverse given by x*/N(x).