Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In my undergraduate mechanics class, we just finished the section on coupled oscillators where we use eigenvalues to find solutions to the differential equations describing the motion of our spring mass system. When we finished, one of my fellow students started going on a rant about how he "knew the determinant had a physical meaning," and he went on to talk about how frustrated he was with his differential equations professor who said that the determinant was just an operation and only had physical meaning when it was given one (ie- showing the system is linearly independent by setting the determinant to $0$). I sided with the professor, but I wasn't sure how to explain it to my classmate.

What do you guys think?

share|improve this question
Hmm... do you mean determinant? –  Abramo Nov 25 '13 at 16:45
Yes. Excuse the spelling. –  TheMobiusLoops Nov 25 '13 at 16:46
See this link: What's an intuitive way to think about the determinant? –  amWhy Nov 25 '13 at 16:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.