Binary operation (english) terminology


I have read R.H. Bruck’s A Survey of binary systems, where the notion of halfoperation is given. A halfoperation $\ast$ differs from a (binary) operation since $a\ast b$ may not be defined for all ordered pairs $(a,b)$. For example, from the Cayley table

$$\begin{array}{c|cc}\ast & 0 & 1\\ \hline 0 & 0 & 1\\1 & & 0\end{array}$$

we deduce that $0\ast 1=1$ while $1\ast 0$ is not defined ($(0,1)$ belongs to the range of the halfoperation, $(1,0)$ does not).

Let us now consider two well known operations over $\mathbb{R}^3$:

  1. vector product: ${\mathbb{R}^3\times\mathbb{R}^3\to\mathbb{R}^3}\qquad{(a,b)\mapsto a\wedge b}$,
  2. scalar product: ${\mathbb{R}^3\times\mathbb{R}^3\to\mathbb{R}}\qquad{(a,b)\mapsto a\cdot b}$.

In italian (my native language) we call both of them binary operation:

  1. operazione binaria interna one like vector product (interna: “inner” or “internal”),
  2. operazione binaria esterna one like scalar product (esterna: “outer” or “external”).


Does such distinction exist in english? I found no traces of it in literature and, reading papers, forums and SE, I have experienced that this matter may sometimes give raise to ambiguities or misunderstanding.

How should we properly call an operation like subtraction $-$ over $\mathbb{N}$, since $a-b$ only belongs to $\mathbb{N}$ if $a\ge b$? Halfoperation over $\mathbb{N}$?

How should we properly call an operation like scalar product $\cdot$ over $\mathbb{R}^3$, since $a\cdot b$ never belongs to $\mathbb{R}^3$? Is this not a binary operation while vector product is?

And, above all:

In the end the word binary, alone, means that the operation is a function of two variables (its arity is $2$), but does not deal with closure…


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