In mathematics, a tuple is a finite ordered list of elements. An -tuple is a sequence of elements, where is a non-negative integer. There is only one 0-tuple, referred to as the empty tuple. An -tuple is defined inductively using the construction of an ordered pair.
Mathematicians usually write tuples by listing the elements within parentheses "" and separated by commas; for example, denotes a 5-tuple. Sometimes other symbols are used to surround the elements, such as square brackets "" or angle brackets "⟨ ⟩". Braces "" are only used in defining arrays in some programming languages such as C++ and Java, but not in mathematical expressions, as they are the standard notation for sets. The term tuple can often occur when discussing other mathematical objects, such as vectors.
In computer science, tuples come in many forms. In dynamically typed languages, such as Lisp, lists are commonly used as tuples. Most typed functional programming languages implement tuples directly as product types, tightly associated with algebraic data types, pattern matching, and destructuring assignment. Many programming languages offer an alternative to tuples, known as record types, featuring unordered elements accessed by label. A few programming languages combine ordered tuple product types and unordered record types into a single construct, as in C structs and Haskell records. Relational databases may formally identify their rows as tuples.
Tuples also occur in relational algebra; when programming the semantic web with the Resource Description Framework ; in linguistics; and in philosophy.
OriginationThe term originated as an abstraction of the sequence: single, couple/double, triple, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, septuple, octuple,..., ‑tuple,..., where the prefixes are taken from the Latin names of the numerals. The unique 0‑tuple is called the null tuple or empty tuple. A 1‑tuple is called a single, a 2‑tuple is called an ordered pair or couple, and a 3‑tuple is called a triple. The number can be any nonnegative integer. For example, a complex number can be represented as a 2‑tuple of reals, a quaternion can be represented as a 4‑tuple, an octonion can be represented as an 8‑tuple, and a sedenion can be represented as a 16‑tuple.
Although these uses treat ‑uple as the suffix, the original suffix was ‑ple as in "triple" or "decuple". This originates from medieval Latin plus related to Greek ‑πλοῦς, which replaced the classical and late antique ‑plex, as in "duplex".
Names for tuples of specific lengths
|Tuple length,||Name||Alternative names|
|0||empty tuple||null tuple / empty sequence / unit|
|1||monuple||single / singleton / monad|
|2||couple||double / ordered pair / two-ple / duad / twin / dual|
|3||triple||treble / triplet / triad|
|4||quadruple||quad / tetrad|
|5||quintuple||pentuple / quint / pentad|
PropertiesThe general rule for the identity of two -tuples is
Thus a tuple has properties that distinguish it from a set.
- A tuple may contain multiple instances of the same element, so
tuple ; but set.
- Tuple elements are ordered: tuple, but set.
- A tuple has a finite number of elements, while a set or a multiset may have an infinite number of elements.
Tuples as functionsIf we are dealing with sets, an -tuple can be regarded as a function,, whose domain is the tuple's implicit set of element indices,, and whose codomain,, is the tuple's set of elements. Formally:
In slightly less formal notation this says:
Using this definition of -tuples, it follows that there is only one -tuple, the empty function.
Tuples as nested ordered pairsAnother way of modeling tuples in Set Theory is as nested ordered pairs. This approach assumes that the notion of ordered pair has already been defined; thus a 2-tuple
- The 0-tuple is represented by the empty set.
- An -tuple, with, can be defined as an ordered pair of its first entry and an -tuple (which contains the remaining entries when :
Thus, for example:
A variant of this definition starts "peeling off" elements from the other end:
- The 0-tuple is the empty set.
- For :
Thus, for example:
Tuples as nested setsUsing Kuratowski's representation for an ordered pair, the second definition above can be reformulated in terms of pure set theory:
- The 0-tuple is represented by the empty set ;
- Let be an -tuple, and let. Then,.
-tuples of -setsIn discrete mathematics, especially combinatorics and finite probability theory, -tuples arise in the context of various counting problems and are treated more informally as ordered lists of length. -tuples whose entries come from a set of elements are also called arrangements with repetition, permutations of a multiset and, in some non-English literature, variations with repetition. The number of -tuples of an -set is. This follows from the combinatorial rule of product. If is a finite set of cardinality, this number is the cardinality of the -fold Cartesian power. Tuples are elements of this product set.
Type theoryIn type theory, commonly used in programming languages, a tuple has a product type; this fixes not only the length, but also the underlying types of each component. Formally:
and the projections are term constructors:
The tuple with labeled elements used in the relational model has a record type. Both of these types can be defined as simple extensions of the simply typed lambda calculus.
The notion of a tuple in type theory and that in set theory are related in the following way: If we consider the natural model of a type theory, and use the Scott brackets to indicate the semantic interpretation, then the model consists of some sets such that:
and the interpretation of the basic terms is:
The -tuple of type theory has the natural interpretation as an -tuple of set theory:
The unit type has as semantic interpretation the 0-tuple.