In mathematics, especially functional analysis, a Banach algebra, named after Stefan Banach, is an associative algebra over the real or complex numbers (or over a non-Archimedean complete normed field) that at the same time is also a Banach space, that is, a normed space that is complete in the metric induced by the norm. The norm is required to satisfy

This ensures that the multiplication operation is continuous.

A Banach algebra is called unital if it has an identity element for the multiplication whose norm is and commutative if its multiplication is commutative. Any Banach algebra (whether it has an identity element or not) can be embedded isometrically into a unital Banach algebra so as to form a closed ideal of . Often one assumes a priori that the algebra under consideration is unital: for one can develop much of the theory by considering and then applying the outcome in the original algebra. However, this is not the case all the time. For example, one cannot define all the trigonometric functions in a Banach algebra without identity.

The theory of real Banach algebras can be very different from the theory of complex Banach algebras. For example, the spectrum of an element of a nontrivial complex Banach algebra can never be empty, whereas in a real Banach algebra it could be empty for some elements.

Banach algebras can also be defined over fields of -adic numbers. This is part of -adic analysis.


The prototypical example of a Banach algebra is , the space of (complex-valued) continuous functions, defined on a locally compact Hausdorff space , that vanish at infinity. is unital if and only if is compact. The complex conjugation being an involution, is in fact a C*-algebra. More generally, every C*-algebra is a Banach algebra by definition.


Several elementary functions that are defined via power series may be defined in any unital Banach algebra; examples include the exponential function and the trigonometric functions, and more generally any entire function. (In particular, the exponential map can be used to define abstract index groups.) The formula for the geometric series remains valid in general unital Banach algebras. The binomial theorem also holds for two commuting elements of a Banach algebra.

The set of invertible elements in any unital Banach algebra is an open set, and the inversion operation on this set is continuous (and hence is a homeomorphism), so that it forms a topological group under multiplication.[3]

If a Banach algebra has unit then cannot be a commutator; that is,   for any This is because and have the same spectrum except possibly

The various algebras of functions given in the examples above have very different properties from standard examples of algebras such as the reals. For example:

Spectral theory

Main article: Spectral theory

Unital Banach algebras over the complex field provide a general setting to develop spectral theory. The spectrum of an element denoted by , consists of all those complex scalars such that is not invertible in The spectrum of any element is a closed subset of the closed disc in with radius and center and thus is compact. Moreover, the spectrum of an element is non-empty and satisfies the spectral radius formula:

Given the holomorphic functional calculus allows to define for any function holomorphic in a neighborhood of Furthermore, the spectral mapping theorem holds:[5]

When the Banach algebra is the algebra of bounded linear operators on a complex Banach space (for example, the algebra of square matrices), the notion of the spectrum in coincides with the usual one in operator theory. For (with a compact Hausdorff space ), one sees that:

The norm of a normal element of a C*-algebra coincides with its spectral radius. This generalizes an analogous fact for normal operators.

Let be a complex unital Banach algebra in which every non-zero element is invertible (a division algebra). For every there is such that is not invertible (because the spectrum of is not empty) hence this algebra is naturally isomorphic to (the complex case of the Gelfand–Mazur theorem).

Ideals and characters

Let be a unital commutative Banach algebra over Since is then a commutative ring with unit, every non-invertible element of belongs to some maximal ideal of Since a maximal ideal in is closed, is a Banach algebra that is a field, and it follows from the Gelfand–Mazur theorem that there is a bijection between the set of all maximal ideals of and the set of all nonzero homomorphisms from to The set is called the "structure space" or "character space" of and its members "characters".

A character is a linear functional on that is at the same time multiplicative, and satisfies Every character is automatically continuous from to since the kernel of a character is a maximal ideal, which is closed. Moreover, the norm (that is, operator norm) of a character is one. Equipped with the topology of pointwise convergence on (that is, the topology induced by the weak-* topology of ), the character space, is a Hausdorff compact space.

For any

where is the Gelfand representation of defined as follows: is the continuous function from to given by The spectrum of in the formula above, is the spectrum as element of the algebra of complex continuous functions on the compact space Explicitly,

As an algebra, a unital commutative Banach algebra is semisimple (that is, its Jacobson radical is zero) if and only if its Gelfand representation has trivial kernel. An important example of such an algebra is a commutative C*-algebra. In fact, when is a commutative unital C*-algebra, the Gelfand representation is then an isometric *-isomorphism between and [a]

Banach *-algebras

A Banach *-algebra is a Banach algebra over the field of complex numbers, together with a map that has the following properties:

  1. for all (so the map is an involution).
  2. for all
  3. for every and every here, denotes the complex conjugate of
  4. for all

In other words, a Banach *-algebra is a Banach algebra over that is also a *-algebra.

In most natural examples, one also has that the involution is isometric, that is,

Some authors include this isometric property in the definition of a Banach *-algebra.

A Banach *-algebra satisfying is a C*-algebra.

See also


  1. ^ Proof: Since every element of a commutative C*-algebra is normal, the Gelfand representation is isometric; in particular, it is injective and its image is closed. But the image of the Gelfand representation is dense by the Stone–Weierstrass theorem.


  1. ^ Conway 1990, Example VII.1.8.
  2. ^ a b Conway 1990, Example VII.1.9.
  3. ^ Conway 1990, Theorem VII.2.2.
  4. ^ García, Miguel Cabrera; Palacios, Angel Rodríguez (1995). "A New Simple Proof of the Gelfand-Mazur-Kaplansky Theorem". Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. 123 (9): 2663–2666. doi:10.2307/2160559. ISSN 0002-9939. JSTOR 2160559.
  5. ^ Takesaki 1979, Proposition 2.8.