In

abstract algebra
In mathematics, more specifically algebra, abstract algebra or modern algebra is the study of algebraic structures. Algebraic structures include groups, rings, fields, modules, vector spaces, lattices, and algebras over a field. The ter ...

, a cover is one instance of some mathematical structure
In mathematics, a structure is a set endowed with some additional features on the set (e.g. an operation, relation, metric, or topology). Often, the additional features are attached or related to the set, so as to provide it with some additio ...

mapping onto
In mathematics, a surjective function (also known as surjection, or onto function) is a function that every element can be mapped from element so that . In other words, every element of the function's codomain is the image of one element of i ...

another instance, such as a group
A group is a number of persons or things that are located, gathered, or classed together.
Groups of people
* Cultural group, a group whose members share the same cultural identity
* Ethnic group, a group whose members share the same ethnic id ...

(trivially) covering a subgroup
In group theory, a branch of mathematics, given a group ''G'' under a binary operation ∗, a subset ''H'' of ''G'' is called a subgroup of ''G'' if ''H'' also forms a group under the operation ∗. More precisely, ''H'' is a subgrou ...

. This should not be confused with the concept of a cover in topology.
When some object ''X'' is said to cover another object ''Y'', the cover is given by some surjective and structure-preserving map . The precise meaning of "structure-preserving" depends on the kind of mathematical structure of which ''X'' and ''Y'' are instances. In order to be interesting, the cover is usually endowed with additional properties, which are highly dependent on the context.
Examples

A classic result insemigroup
In mathematics, a semigroup is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an associative internal binary operation on it.
The binary operation of a semigroup is most often denoted multiplicatively: ''x''·''y'', or simply ''xy'', ...

theory due to D. B. McAlister states that every inverse semigroup In group theory, an inverse semigroup (occasionally called an inversion semigroup) ''S'' is a semigroup in which every element ''x'' in ''S'' has a unique ''inverse'' ''y'' in ''S'' in the sense that ''x = xyx'' and ''y = yxy'', i.e. a regular semig ...

has an E-unitary cover; besides being surjective, the homomorphism in this case is also ''idempotent
Idempotence (, ) is the property of certain operations in mathematics and computer science whereby they can be applied multiple times without changing the result beyond the initial application. The concept of idempotence arises in a number of pl ...

separating'', meaning that in its kernel
Kernel may refer to:
Computing
* Kernel (operating system), the central component of most operating systems
* Kernel (image processing), a matrix used for image convolution
* Compute kernel, in GPGPU programming
* Kernel method, in machine learni ...

an idempotent and non-idempotent never belong to the same equivalence class.; something slightly stronger has actually be shown for inverse semigroups: every inverse semigroup admits an F-inverse cover. McAlister's covering theorem generalizes to orthodox semigroups: every orthodox semigroup has a unitary cover.
Examples from other areas of algebra include the Frattini cover of a profinite group In mathematics, a profinite group is a topological group that is in a certain sense assembled from a system of finite groups.
The idea of using a profinite group is to provide a "uniform", or "synoptic", view of an entire system of finite groups. ...

and the universal cover A covering of a topological space X is a continuous map \pi : E \rightarrow X with special properties.
Definition
Let X be a topological space. A covering of X is a continuous map
: \pi : E \rightarrow X
such that there exists a discrete sp ...

of a Lie group
In mathematics, a Lie group (pronounced ) is a group that is also a differentiable manifold. A manifold is a space that locally resembles Euclidean space, whereas groups define the abstract concept of a binary operation along with the add ...

.
Modules

If ''F'' is some family of modules over some ring ''R'', then an ''F''-cover of a module ''M'' is a homomorphism ''X''→''M'' with the following properties: *''X'' is in the family ''F'' *''X''→''M'' is surjective *Any surjective map from a module in the family ''F'' to ''M'' factors through ''X'' *Any endomorphism of ''X'' commuting with the map to ''M'' is an automorphism. In general an ''F''-cover of ''M'' need not exist, but if it does exist then it is unique up to (non-unique) isomorphism. Examples include: *Projective cover In the branch of abstract mathematics called category theory, a projective cover of an object ''X'' is in a sense the best approximation of ''X'' by a projective object ''P''. Projective covers are the dual of injective envelopes.
Definition
...

s (always exist over perfect ring
In the area of abstract algebra known as ring theory, a left perfect ring is a type of ring in which all left modules have projective covers. The right case is defined by analogy, and the condition is not left-right symmetric; that is, there e ...

s)
*flat cover In algebra, a flat cover of a module ''M'' over a ring is a surjective homomorphism from a flat module ''F'' to ''M'' that is in some sense minimal. Any module over a ring has a flat cover that is unique up to (non-unique) isomorphism. Flat covers a ...

s (always exist)
* torsion-free covers (always exist over integral domains)
* injective covers
See also

*Embedding
In mathematics, an embedding (or imbedding) is one instance of some mathematical structure contained within another instance, such as a group that is a subgroup.
When some object X is said to be embedded in another object Y, the embedding is gi ...

Notes

References

* Abstract algebra {{algebra-stub