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1Involving the condition that a group of quantities connected by operators gives the same result whatever the order of the quantities involved, e.g., a × b = b × a.
‘An operation is commutative if you can change the order of the numbers involved without changing the result.’
‘In the density-independent case, this multiplication is commutative.’
‘This is a consequence of large rotations not being commutative in three dimensions, so the averages are not accurate in regions of high variability.’
‘So, the addition and multiplication we are used to using are commutative.’
‘In the 1840s, the Irish mathematician William Hamilton found that multiplication was not commutative in all number systems.’
1.1rare Relating to or involving substitution or exchange.
‘The second difficulty was more damaging and, to a degree, commutative with the first.’
‘Of course, the relationship between painting and philosophy is not entirely commutative.’
Origin
Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘relating to transactions between people’): from French commutatif, -ive or medieval Latin commutativus, from commutat- ‘exchanged’, from the verb commutare (see commute).