In mathematics, and more precisely in semigroup theory, a nilsemigroup or nilpotent semigroup is a semigroup whose every element is nilpotent.


Formally, a semigroup S is a nilsemigroup if:

  • S contains 0 and
  • for each element aS, there exists a positive integer k such that ak=0.

Finite nilsemigroups

Equivalent definitions exists for finite semigroup. A finite semigroup S is nilpotent if, equivalently:

  • for each , where is the cardinality of S.
  • The zero is the only idempotent of S.


The trivial semigroup of a single element is trivially a nilsemigroup.

The set of strictly upper triangular matrix, with matrix multiplication is nilpotent.

Let a bounded interval of positive real numbers. For x, y belonging to I, define as . We now show that is a nilsemigroup whose zero is n. For each natural number k, kx is equal to . Fork at least equal to , kx equals n. This example generalize for any bounded interval of an Archimedean ordered semigroup.


A non-trivial nilsemigroup does not contain an identity element. It follows that the only nilpotent monoid is the trivial monoid.

The class of nilsemigroups is:

  • closed under taking subsemigroups
  • closed under taking quotients
  • closed under finite products
  • but is not closed under arbitrary direct product. Indeed, take the semigroup , where is defined as above. The semigroup S is a direct product of nilsemigroups, however its contains no nilpotent element.

It follows that the class of nilsemigroups is not a variety of universal algebra. However, the set of finite nilsemigroups is a variety of finite semigroups. The variety of finite nilsemigroups is defined by the profinite equalities .


  • Pin, Jean-Éric (2018-06-15). Mathematical Foundations of Automata Theory (PDF). p. 198.
  • Grillet, P A (1995). Semigroups. CRC Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-8247-9662-4.
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