In mathematics, an operator is generally a mapping that acts on elements of a space to produce other elements of the same space. The most common operators are linear maps, which act on vector spaces. However, when using "linear operator" instead of "linear map", mathematicians often mean actions on vector spaces of functions, which also preserve other properties, such as continuity. For example, differentiation and indefinite integration are linear operators; operators that are built from them are called differential operators, integral operators or integro-differential operators. Operator is also used for denoting the symbol of a mathematical operation. This is related with the meaning of "operator" in computer programming, see operator (computer programming).
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