Representation theory is a branch of mathematics that studies abstract algebraic structures by representing their elements as linear transformations of vector spaces, and studies modules over these abstract algebraic structures. In essence, a representation makes an abstract algebraic object more concrete by describing its elements by matrices and their algebraic operations (for example, matrix addition, matrix multiplication). The theory of matrices and linear operators is well-understood, so representations of more abstract objects in terms of familiar linear algebra objects helps glean properties and sometimes simplify calculations on more abstract theories. The algebraic objects amenable to such a description include groups, associative algebras and Lie algebras. The most prominent of these (and historically the first) is the representation theory of groups, in which elements of a group are represented by invertible matrices in such a way that the group operation is matrix multiplication. Representation theory is a useful method because it reduces problems in abstract algebra to problems in linear algebra, a subject that is well understood.