# Smith Normal Form

Interactive Tutorial on the Smith Normal Form

Author

Sushovan Majhi

Published

August 1, 2021

## Introduction

Matrix reduction plays a fundamental role in the study of vector spaces and linear transformations. Reduction of a matrix to a canonical or normal form finds its use in almost all applied fields of science. While there are many different normal forms a matrix can be reduced to, a normal form is usually the product of much simpler and well-understood (e.g., diagonal, upper/lower triangular, etc) matrices. Since, the reduction process faithfully carries most of the nice properties of the original matrix, one can use a normal form to infer some of those properties from matrices with relatively simple structure.

The choice of the normal form can sometimes be demanded by a particular application, or be limited by the algebraic operations one is allowed to perform on the entries of the original matrix. Today we consider, for reduction, only $$\mathbb Z$$-matrices, i.e., matrices that are allowed to have only integer entries. As a consequence, the only permitted operations on the entries of such a matrix are addition and multiplication—but not division. We denote by $$\mathcal{M}_{n,m}(\mathbb Z)$$ the set of all integer matrices with $$n$$ rows and $$m$$ columns. In the special case of square matrices ($$m=n$$), we simply call it $$\mathcal{M}_{m}(\mathbb Z)$$ or $$\mathcal{M}_{n}(\mathbb Z)$$. Note that the identity matrix, $$I_{m}$$, of dimension $$m$$ is a $$\mathbb Z$$-matrix, i.e., $$I_m\in\mathcal{M}_{m}(\mathbb Z)$$.

### Permitted Matrix Operations

Although our hands are now tied by the restriction on the operations allowed on a matrix $$A\in\mathcal{M}_{n,m}(\mathbb Z)$$, we can still follow the usual definitions of matrix addition, subtraction, and multiplication— also determinant and inverse of a square matrix. For a square matrix $$A\in\mathcal{M}_{n}(\mathbb Z)$$, its determinant is defined the usual way. Also, $$A$$ is said to have an inverse $$B\in\mathcal{M}_{n}(\mathbb Z)$$ if $$AB=BA=I_n$$. The set of all invertible (square) matrices of dimension $$n$$ is denoted by $$GL_{n}(\mathbb Z)$$.

### Smith Normal Form

Given an $$A\in\mathcal{M}_{n,m}(\mathbb Z)$$, we seek invertible matrices $$P\in GL_{m}(\mathbb Z)$$ and $$Q\in GL_{n}(\mathbb Z)$$ such that $$D=Q^{-1}AP,$$ where $$D$$ is an $$n\times m$$ diagonal integer matrix: $\newcommand\bigzero{\makebox(0,0){\text{\huge0}}} \begin{pmatrix} \begin{array}{c:c} \begin{matrix} d_1 & 0 & \ldots & 0 \\ 0 & d_2 & \ldots & 0\\ 0 & \ldots & \ldots & 0 \\ 0 & \ldots & 0 & d_k \\ \end{matrix} & {\huge0}_{k,m-k} \\ \hdashline \\ {\huge0}_{n-k,k} & {\huge0}_{n-k,m-k} \end{array} \end{pmatrix}$ with $$d_i\geq0$$ for all $$i=1, 2, \ldots, k$$ and $$d_1| d_2| \ldots | d_k$$.

Note: - the diagonal matrix $$D$$ always exists, as we allow it to be a zero matrix; it is also unique. - $$P,Q$$ may not, however, be unique [artin]. - if $$A$$ is viewed as the matrix of a linear transformation $$T:G_1\to G_2$$ between two finitely-generated free abelian groups, then $$P$$ and $$Q$$ are the basechange matrices for $$G_1$$ and $$G_2$$, respectively.

### Application

Unlike the other popular canonical forms—e.g., the Jordan normal form for matrices over an algebraically-closed field—the Smith normal form is particularly relevant in the context of $$\mathbb Z$$-modules, more generally $$R$$-modules [artin]. In the field of combinatorial topology, the reduction to Smith normal form facilitates the computation of the homology groups of finte simplicial complexes [Munkres84].

## Elementary Operations

As stated above without a proof that the reduction of an integer matrix to a Smith normal form always exists. We now present the steps one can perform to decompose a given matrix. The basis of the reduction process involves three elementary operations. We invoke them repeatedly on the original matrix in the right order. We are going to use three elementary row operations and three corresonding column operations.

### Elementary Matrices

Each of the following row (and column) operations can also be described as pre (and post) multiplication by an elementary matrix. For each elementary operation, there is an associated elementary matrix, which is obtained by performing the same operation on the identity matrix of the right size.

### Row Operations

We first define and then demonstrate the elementary row operations. The outcome $$A'$$ of each row operation on $$A$$ is a pre-multiplication of $$A$$ by an elementary matrix $$E$$, i.e., $$A'=EA$$. The three types of row operations are as follows:

• Multiply the $$i$$-th row by $$-1$$
• Exchange the $$i$$-th and $$j$$-th row
• Replace the $$i$$-th row with the row plus $$q$$ times the $$j$$-th row ($$i\neq j, q\neq 0$$)

### Column Operations

The outcome $$A'$$ of each column operation on $$A$$ is post-multiplication of $$A$$ by an elementary matrix $$E$$, i.e., $$A'=AE$$. The three types of column operations are as follows:

• Multiply the $$i$$-th column by $$-1$$
• Exchange the $$i$$-th and $$j$$-th column
• Replace $$i$$-th column with the column plus $$q$$ times the $$j$$-th column ($$i\neq j, q\neq 0$$)

### Demo

The operations are best understood when demonstrated on an example matrix. To that end, we first generate a random matrix $$A$$ with integer (between $$-5$$ and $$5$$) entries by choosing the number of rows and columns using the sliders.

Code
viewof m = Inputs.range([1, 6], {
value: 5,
step: 1,
label: "Number of rows (n):"
})
viewof n = Inputs.range([1, 6], {
value: 4,
step: 1,
label: "Number of cols (m):"
})

If you do not like the random matrix, try fiddling with the above sliders to generate a new one!

Code
tex.blockA=${nj.mat2Tex(A)} See for yourself: From the dropdown below choose the operation type (row/column) and an operation. Also, set the values of the arguemts for the operations chosen, using the sliders. Code viewof opType = Inputs.select(["row", "col"], { label: "Type of operation" }) viewof operation = Inputs.select( Operations[opType].map((o) => o.name), { label: "operation" } ) viewof i = Inputs.range([1, opType === "row" ? n : m], { value: 1, step: 1, label: texi }) viewof j = Inputs.range([1, opType === "row" ? n : m], { value: 2, step: 1, label: texj }) viewof q = Inputs.range([-20, 20], { value: 10, step: 1, label: texq }) Here is the outcome matrix: Code tex.blockA'=${nj.mat2Tex(Result)}

The corresponding elementary matrix $$E$$ is such that

Code
opType === 'row' ? texA'=EA : texA'=AE.

As will be discussed later, we accumulate the $$E^{-1}$$ from the operations to compute the basechange matrix.

Code
tex.blockE=${nj.mat2Tex(Result)}\text{, and }E^{-1}=${nj.mat2Tex(Result)}

With all the background definitions and notations at our disposal to present the reduction algorithm.

## The Reduction Algorithm

Before we discuss the algorithm in detail, feel free to take a quick detour to see the reduction in action!

Given an integer matrix $$A$$ of any size, its reduction to the Smith normal form follows three major steps:

### Step 0: Set the offset

The algorithm relies on an offset parameter. Starting with offset=$$1$$, the reduction process works on the original matrix, inductively, by incrementing the offset. The offset determines how much of the matrix has been already been processed; it ranges from $$1$$ to $$\min\{n,m\}$$. When the function reduce(offset) is called, it assumes that the offset-block, block with the diagonal element (offset,offset) at its top-left corner, has to be processed, and all other rows and columns are already in good shape.

To get an idea of how offset plays its role, try choosing an offset from the slider. If the reduction algorithm is called it would assume that the green elements are already processed, and the (gray) offset-block is yet to be processed.

Code
viewof offset = Inputs.range([1, Math.min(n, m)], {
value: 1,
step: 1,
label: offset
})
Code
{
const container = d3.create("div").attr("class", "mat-container");

container
.selectAll(".row")
.data(A)
.join("div")
.attr("class", "row")
.selectAll("div")
.data((d) => d)
.join("div")
.attr("class", "element")
.text((d) => d);

container
.selectAll(".row")
.filter((d, k) => k < offset - 1)
.selectAll(".element")
.style("background", "#BDF3C2");
container
.selectAll(".row")
.selectAll(".element")
.filter((d, k) => k < offset - 1)
.style("background", "#BDF3C2");
yield container.node();
}

A Word of Caution: Note, however, that the green rows and columns may not be yet processed in the following demo matrix.

### Step 1: Find the Best Pivot

For a given offset, we find the best pivot: a (non-zero) element that divides all other elements of the offset-block. This step involves finding repeatedly a pivot, then improving it.

Step 1.1 Find a Pivot and antiPivot:
For a given offset-block, a pivot is a non-zero element with the smallest absolute value; shown with a green border below.

If the pivot-block is has all zero entries, we return the step. If not, a pivot can be found in $$O(mn)$$-time.

Code
{
const container = d3.create("div").attr("class", "mat-container");

container
.selectAll(".row")
.data(A)
.join("div")
.attr("class", "row")
.selectAll("div")
.data((d) => d)
.join("div")
.attr("class", "element")
.text((d) => d);

container
.selectAll(".row")
.filter((d, k) => k < offset - 1)
.selectAll(".element")
.style("background", "#BDF3C2");
container
.selectAll(".row")
.selectAll(".element")
.filter((d, k) => k < offset - 1)
.style("background", "#BDF3C2");

container
.selectAll(".row")
.filter((d, k) => k === pivot)
.selectAll(".element")
.filter((d, k) => k === pivot)
.style("border", "2px solid green");

container
.selectAll(".row")
.filter((d, k) => k === antiPivot)
.selectAll(".element")
.filter((d, k) => k === antiPivot)
.style("border", "2px solid red");
yield container.node();
}

We say that pivot can still be improved if, in the offset-block, there is an antiPivot: an element that does not divisible by the current pivot. In the demo, an antiPivot of a pivot is shown with a red border.

If antiPivot does not exist, we skip Step 1.1. Otherwise, we improve the pivot.

Step 1.2 Improve the Pivot

Code
{
if (antiPivot.length === 0)
return mdFor the offset-block, we see that the pivot is already the best. So, we skip this step.;
else
return mdFor the offset-block, we see that the antiPivot exists. So, we take this step.;
}

Let $$[i,j]$$ and $$[s,t]$$ be the positions of pivot and antiPivot.

Case I ($$i=s$$): If the pivot and antiPivot are on the same row, replace the antiPivot column by $$q \times$$ the pivot column, where $$a_{it}= qa_{ij}+r$$ with $$0<r<a_{ij}$$. As a result, $$a_{it}$$ becomes $$r$$ after the operations, and $$a_{ij}$$ fails to to the pivot for the output offset-block.

Case II ($$j=t$$): same operation as in Case I, but for rows.

Case III ($$i\neq s, j\neq t$$): We assume for this case that $$a_{ij}$$ divides all entries (of the current offset-block) in its row and column. If not, we are back to Case I.

Using this assumption we can replace the antiPivot row by the pivot row, where $$q=\frac{a_{sj}}{a_{ij}}$$. After the operation, $$a_{sj}$$ becomes zero. If we now add replace the $$i$$-th row by adding it to the $$s$$-th row, $$a_{ij}$$ does not change, however the $$(i,t)$$-th becomes $$a_{it}+a_{st}$$, which is not divisible by $$a_{ij}$$, and we are back to Case I.

Each of the above cases yields a smaller pivot. We go back to Step 1.2 until the best pivot is found.

### Step 2: Move Pivot

Once the pivot is improved, we move the pivot to the top-left corner of the offset block by at most two elementary operations involving exchanging rows / columns.

### Step 3: Diagonalize

Since the pivot divides all other elements in the offset block, one can find the right multiplier $$q$$ for each row below and each column to its right to make entries zero by a series of operations involving replacing rows and columns.

We then increment the offset, and move to step 1.

Result:

Code
texD=${nj.mat2Tex(NF.D)} Code tex.block Q^{-1}=${nj.mat2Tex(NF.Qinv)}\text{, and }
P=${nj.mat2Tex(NF.P)}  One can check that . ## Change of Bases As we know now, the algorithm works by pre or post multiplying the original matrix $$A$$ by an elementary matrix at each step of the reduction. Let $$E_1,E_2,\ldots,E_k$$ and $$F_1,F_2,\ldots,F_l$$ be the elementary matrices corresponding to the row and column operations performed in the increaing order of the subscript. Then the final diagonal matrix $$D$$ can be written as: $D=E_k\ldots E_2.E_1.A.F_1.F_2\ldots F_l=Q^{-1}AP,$ where $$P=F_1.F_2\ldots F_l$$ and $$Q^{-1}=E_k\ldots E_2.E_1$$. We note that $$P$$ and $$Q=E_1^{-1}E_2^{-1}\ldots E_k^{-1}$$ are the basechange matrices for $$\mathbb Z^m$$ (domain) and $$\mathbb Z^n$$ (co-domain), respectively. Code tex.block \mathcal{B}=${nj.vec2Tex(B)}\text{, and }
\mathcal{B'}=${nj.vec2Tex(B1)}  Let $$\mathcal{C},\mathcal{C}'$$ be the new bases. We compute: Code tex\mathcal{C}=${nj.vec2Tex(nj.changeBasis(B, NF.P))}
Code
tex\mathcal{C}'=\${nj.vec2Tex(nj.changeBasis(B1, NF.Q))}

## Discussion

If you are too excited to explore more on the subject, the reader is advised to call on [artin]. The examples in this tutorial are produced using codes from the JS package: @tdajs/normal-form. Visit the Github repo for more information. Happy coding!

Code
nj = require("https://bundle.run/@tdajs/normal-form@2.0.0")
A = {
let rows = n; //d3.randomInt(1, 10)();
let cols = m; //d3.randomInt(1, 10)();

return d3.range(0, rows).map((row) => {
return d3.range(0, cols).map((elm) => d3.randomInt(-5, 5)());
});
}
Operations = {
const obj = {
row: [
{ name: "exchangeRows", args: ["i", "j"] },
{ name: "replaceRow", args: ["i", "j", "q"] },
{ name: "multiplyRow", args: ["i"] }
],
col: [
{ name: "exchangeCols", args: ["i", "j"] },
{ name: "replaceCol", args: ["i", "j", "q"] },
{ name: "multiplyCol", args: ["i"] }
]
};
return obj;
}
pivot = nj.findPivot(A, offset - 1)
antiPivot = nj.findAntiPivot(pivot, A, offset - 1)
Result = {
if (operation.includes("exchange"))
return nj[operation](i - 1, j - 1, A, { copy: true });
else if (operation.includes("multiply"))
return nj[operation](i - 1, q, A, { copy: true });
else return nj[operation](i - 1, j - 1, q, A, { copy: true });
}

NF = new nj.NormalForm(A)
B = Array.from({ length: m }).map((e, i) => "e_" + i)
B1 = Array.from({ length: n }).map((e, i) => "e_" + i + "'")