AskDefine | Define permanent

Dictionary Definition

permanent adj
1 continuing or enduring without marked change in status or condition or place; "permanent secretary to the president"; "permanent address"; "literature of permanent value" [syn: lasting] [ant: impermanent]
2 not capable of being reversed or returned to the original condition; "permanent brain damage" n : a series of waves in the hair made by applying heat and chemicals [syn: permanent wave, perm]

User Contributed Dictionary



From permanent, from permanens (continuing), from permanēo (to stay to the end). Used in English since 15th century.



  1. Without end, eternal.
    Nothing in this world is truly permanent.
  2. Lasting for an indefinitely long time.
    The countries are now locked in a permanent state of conflict.


without end
lasting for an indefinitely long time


  1. A chemical hair treatment imparting or removing curliness, whose effects typically last for a period of weeks.
  2. Given an n \times n matrix a_ \,, the sum over all permutations \pi \, of \prod_^n.


hair treatment
sum over all permutations



  • IPA: /pɛʁ.ma.nɑ̃/
  • SAMPA: /


From permanentem (accusative of permanens).




fr-noun m



  1. permanent

Extensive Definition

In linear algebra, the permanent of a matrix is a function of a matrix related to the determinant. The permanent as well as the determinant are polynomials of the entries of the matrix.


The permanent of an n-by-n matrix A = (ai,j) is defined as
\operatorname(A)=\sum_\prod_^n a_.
The sum here extends over all elements σ of the symmetric group Sn, i.e. over all permutations of the numbers 1, 2, ..., n.
For example,
\operatorname\begina&b \\ c&d\end=ad+bc.
The definition of the permanent of A differs from that of the determinant of A in that the signatures of the permutations are not taken into account. If one views the permanent as a map that takes n vectors as arguments, then it is a multilinear map and it is symmetric (meaning that any order of the vectors results in the same permanent). A formula similar to Laplace's for the development of a determinant along a row or column is also valid for the permanent; all signs have to be ignored for the permanent.


Unlike the determinant, the permanent has no easy geometrical interpretation; it is mainly used in combinatorics. The permanent describes the number of perfect matchings in a bipartite graph. More specifically, let G be a bipartite graph with vertices A1, A2, ..., An on one side and B1, B2, ..., Bn on the other side. Then, G can be described by an n-by-n matrix A = (ai,j) where ai,j = 1 if there is an edge between the vertices Ai and Bj and ai,j = 0 otherwise. The permanent of this matrix is equal to the number of perfect matchings in the graph.


The permanent is also more difficult to compute than the determinant. While the determinant can be computed in polynomial time by Gaussian elimination, Gaussian elimination cannot be used to compute the permanent. Moreover, computing the permanent of a 0-1 matrix (matrix whose entries are 0 or 1) is #P-complete (proof). Thus, if the permanent can be computed in polynomial time by any method, then FP = #P which is an even stronger statement than P =  NP. When the entries of A are nonnegative, however, the permanent can be computed approximately in probabilistic polynomial time, up to an error of εM, where M is the value of the permanent and ε > 0 is arbitrary. Because the permanent is random self-reducible, these results hold out even for average-case inputs.


The permanent and the determinant are both special cases of the immanant: Given a complex character \chi: S_n\rightarrow\mathbb of the symmetric group S_n, the immanant corresponding to \chi of an n-by-n matrix A is
\operatorname_\chi(A)=\sum_\chi(\sigma)\prod_^n a_.
The permanent is recovered from this definition by taking \chi to be the trivial character \sigma\mapsto 1, and the determinant is recovered by taking \chi to be the sign function sgn, which is the unique nontrivial one-dimensional irreducible character of S_n.

See also


permanent in German: Permanente
permanent in French: Permanent (mathématiques)
permanent in Hebrew: פרמננטה
permanent in Polish: Permanent

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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