The study of rings originated from the theory of polynomial rings and the theory of algebraic integers. Furthermore, the appearance of hypercomplex numbers in the mid-19th century undercut the pre-eminence of fields in mathematical analysis.
In the 1880s Richard Dedekind introduced the concept of a ring, and the term ring (Zahlring) was coined by David Hilbert in 1892 and published in the article Die Theorie der algebraischen Zahlkörper, Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker Vereinigung, Vol. 4, 1897. According to Harvey Cohn, Hilbert used the term for a specific ring that had the property of "circling directly back" to an element of itself.
The first axiomatic definition of a ring was given by Adolf Fraenkel in an essay in Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik (A. L. Crelle), vol. 145, 1914. In 1921, Emmy Noether gave the first axiomatic foundation of the theory of commutative rings in her monumental paper Ideal Theory in Rings.
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