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This page gives the formal mathematical definition of a monzo. For a simpler explanation with examples, visit the monzos page.


A p-limit rational number q can by definition be factored into primes of size less than or equal to p, giving

where the exponents are integers (positive, negative, or zero.) This is often written in ket vector (wp) notation as

in which case it is called a monzo, where the name refers to the enthusiastic advocacy of Joe Monzo.

The Tenney height of this monzo is given by

which is a vector space norm; hence we may embed the p-limit monzos into a normed vector I space of dimension n = π(p) via a map M:monzos ⟶ I. The monzos under this embedding now define a lattice, which is a discrete subgroup spanning the finite dimensional real normed vector space I. If we change coordinates by multiplying values in the coordinate belonging to the prime k by log2(k), then the norm becomes the standard L1 norm. This vector space is Tenney interval space, and the transformed coordinates with the standard L1 norm form the standard basis for Tenney space. It should be noted that while monzos correspond uniquely to positive real numbers (always rational numbers in the case of monzos), vectors in Tenney space do not. For instance, while |1 0> represents 2, so does |0 log3(2)>.

Because of the mathematical advantages of Euclidean norms, a Euclidean norm is often placed on the vectors in interval space instead of an L1 norm, in which case we have Tenney-Euclidean interval space instead of Tenney interval space. Explicitly, if we take the monzo |e2 e3 ... ep> then the Tenney-Euclidean norm, or TE norm, of it is

and if the coordinates are the weighted interval space coordinates, then the TE norm is the standard Euclidean, or L2, norm.

Alternate Definition:

Given a rational number q, we can rewrite it in monzo form by the following definition:

The Tenney height of this monzo is given by

Where vp(q) is the p-adic valuation of q.


The 5-limit interval 16/15 factors as 2^4 3^(-1) 5^(-1), so it has a monzo representation of |4 -1 -1>. In weighted coordinates, that becomes |4 -log2(3) -log2(5)>, approximately |4 -1.585 -2.322>.
The TE norm is therefore

see also Fractional monzos, Vals and Tuning Space...