# Tagged Questions

Linear algebra is concerned with vector spaces of all dimensions and linear transformations between them, including systems of linear equations, bases, dimensions, subspaces, matrices, determinants, traces, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, diagonalization, Jordan forms, etc. For questions specifically ...

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### What's an intuitive way to think about the determinant?

In my linear algebra class, we just talked about determinants. So far I’ve been understanding the material okay, but now I’m very confused. I get that when the determinant is zero, the matrix doesn’t ...
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### What is the intuitive relationship between SVD and PCA

Singular value decomposition (SVD) and principal component analysis (PCA) are two eigenvalue methods used to reduce a high-dimensional dataset into fewer dimensions while retaining important ...
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### How does one prove the matrix inequality $\det\left(6(A^3+B^3+C^3)+I_{n}\right)\ge 5^n\det(A^2+B^2+C^2)$?

Question: let matrices $A,B,C\in M_{n}(C)$ be Hermitian and Positive definite matrices, such that:$$A+B+C=I_{n}$$ Show that: $$\det\left(6(A^3+B^3+C^3)+I_{n}\right)\ge 5^n\det(A^2+B^2+C^2)$$ ...
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### Why does this matrix give the derivative of a function?

I happened to stumble upon the following matrix: $$A = \begin{bmatrix} a & 1 \\ 0 & a \end{bmatrix}$$ And after trying a bunch of different examples, I noticed the ...
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### If $AB = I$ then $BA = I$

If $A$ and $B$ are square matrices such that $AB = I$ where $I$ is identity matrix. Show that $BA = I$. I do not understand anything more than the following. Elementary row operations. Linear ...
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### What is the importance of eigenvalues/eigenvectors?

What is the importance of eigenvalues/eigenvectors?
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### How could we define the factorial of a matrix?

Suppose I have a square matrix $\mathsf{A}$ with $\det \mathsf{A}\neq 0$. How could we define the following operation? $$\mathsf{A}!$$ Maybe we could make some simple example, admitted it makes any ...
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### Why do we use the word “scalar” and not “number” in Linear Algebra?

During a year and half of studying Linear Algebra in academy, I have never questioned why we use the word "scalar" and not "number". When I started the course our professor said we would use "scalar" ...
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### Norms Induced by Inner Products and the Parallelogram Law

Let $V$ be a normed vector space (over $\mathbb{R}$, say, for simplicity) with norm $\lVert\cdot\rVert$. It's not hard to show that if $\lVert \cdot \rVert = \sqrt{\langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle}$ ...
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### Is there another simpler method to solve this elementary school math problem?

I am teaching an elementary student. He has a homework as follows. There are 16 students who use either bicycles or tricycles. The total number of wheels is 38. Find the number of students using ...
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### Is the following matrix invertible?

$$\begin{bmatrix} 1235 &2344 &1234 &1990\\ 2124 & 4123& 1990& 3026 \\ 1230 &1234 &9095 &1230\\ 1262 &2312& 2324 &3907 \end{bmatrix}$$ Clearly its ...
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### Why do we care about dual spaces?

When I first took linear algebra, we never learned about dual spaces. Today in lecture we discussed them and I understand what they are and everything, but I don't really understand why we want to ...
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### Can an infinite sum of irrational numbers be rational?

Let $S = \sum_ {k=1}^\infty a_k$ where each $a_k$ is positive and irrational. Is it possible for $S$ to be rational, considering the additional restriction that non of the $a_k$'s is a linear ...
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### Where to start learning Linear Algebra? [closed]

I'm starting a very long quest to learn about math, so that I can program games. I'm mostly a corporate developer, and it's somewhat boring and non exciting. When I began my career, I chose it because ...
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### Why, intuitively, is the order reversed when taking the transpose of the product?

It is well known that for invertible matrices $A,B$ of the same size we have $$(AB)^{-1}=B^{-1}A^{-1}$$ and a nice way for me to remember this is the following sentence: The opposite of putting ...
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### Cute Determinant Question

I stumbled across the following problem and found it cute. Problem: We are given that $19$ divides $23028$, $31882$, $86469$, $6327$, and $61902$. Show that $19$ divides the following determinant: ...
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### Is there a quick proof as to why the vector space of $\mathbb{R}$ over $\mathbb{Q}$ is infinite-dimensional?

It would seem that one way of proving this would be to show the existence of non-algebraic numbers. Is there a simpler way to show this?
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### Is arrow notation for vectors “not mathematically mature”?

Assuming that we can't bold our variables (say, we're writing math as opposed to typing it), is it "not mathematically mature" to put an arrow over a vector? I ask this because in my linear algebra ...
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### What is the difference between a point and a vector

I understand that a vector has direction and magnitude whereas a point doesn't. However, the course note that I am using states that a point is the same as a vector. Also, can you do cross product ...
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### What exactly are eigen-things?

Wikipedia defines an eigenvector like this: An eigenvector of a square matrix is a non-zero vector that, when multiplied by the matrix, yields a vector that differs from the original vector at most ...
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### Why study linear algebra?

Simply as the title says. I've done some research, but still haven't arrived at an answer I am satisfied with. I know the answer varies in different fields, but in general, why would someone study ...
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### Is linear algebra more “fully understood” than other maths disciplines?

In a recent question, it was discussed how LA is a foundation to other branches of mathematics, be they pure or applied. One answer argued that linear problems are fully understood, and hence a ...
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### How to intuitively understand eigenvalue and eigenvector?

I'm learning multivariate analysis and I have learnt linear algebra for two semester when I was a freshman. Eigenvalue and eigenvector is easy to calculate and the concept is not difficult to ...
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### What are some applications of elementary linear algebra outside of math?

I'm TAing linear algebra next quarter, and it strikes me that I only know one example of an application I can present to my students. I'm looking for applications of elementary linear algebra outside ...
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### What is “Bra” and “Ket” notation and how does it relate to Hilbert spaces?

This is my first semester of quantum mechanics and higher mathematics and I am completely lost. I have tried to find help at my university, browsed similar questions on this site, looked at my ...
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### Why are vector spaces not isomorphic to their duals?

Assuming the axiom of choice, set $\mathbb F$ to be some field (we can assume it has characteristics $0$). I was told, by more than one person, that if $\kappa$ is an infinite cardinal then the ...
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### Why does this “miracle method” for matrix inversion work?

Recently, I answered this question about matrix invertibility using a solution technique I called a "miracle method." The question and answer are reproduced below: Problem: Let $A$ be a matrix ...
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### Is linear algebra laying the foundation for something important?

I'm majoring in mathematics and currently enrolled in Linear Algebra. It's very different, but I like it (I think). My question is this: What doors does this course open? (I saw a post about Linear ...
12k views

### What is the geometric interpretation of the transpose?

I can follow the definition of the transpose algebraically, i.e. as a reflection of a matrix across its diagonal, or in terms of dual spaces, but I lack any sort of geometric understanding of the ...
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### Geometric intuition for the tensor product of vector spaces

First of all, I am very comfortable with the tensor product of vector spaces. I am also very familiar with the well-known generalizations, in particular the theory of monoidal categories. I have ...
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### Why does the Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality even have a name?

When I came across the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality the other day, I found it really weird that this was its own thing, and it had lines upon lines of proof. I've always thought the geometric definition ...
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### Why is the eigenvector of a covariance matrix equal to a principal component?

If I have a covariance matrix for a data set and I multiply it times one of it's eigenvectors. Let's say the eigenvector with the highest eigenvalue. The result is the eigenvector or a scaled ...
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### Looking for an intuitive explanation why the row rank is equal to the column rank for a matrix

I am looking for an intuitive explanation as to why/how row rank of a matrix = column rank. I've read the proof at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rank_of_a_linear_transformation and I understand the ...
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### Why learn to solve differential equations when computers can do it?

I'm getting started learning engineering math. I'm really interested in physics especially quantum mechanics, and I'm coming from a strong CS background. One question is haunting me. Why do I need ...
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### How to identify surfaces of revolution

Given a surface $f(x,y,z)=0$, how would you determine whether or not it's a surface of revolution, and find the axis of rotation? The special case where $f$ is a polynomial is also of interest. A ...
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### Polynomial equations $p(A, B) = 0$ for matrices that ensure $AB = BA$

Let $k$ be a field with characteristic different from $2$, and $A$ and $B$ be $2 \times 2$ matrices with entries in $k$. Then we can prove, with a bit art, that $A^2 - 2AB + B^2 = O$ implies $AB = BA$,...
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### Axiom of choice and automorphisms of vector spaces

A classical exercise in group theory is "Show that if a group has a trivial automorphism group, then it is of order 1 or 2." I think that the straightforward solution uses that a exponent two group is ...
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### In categorical terms, why is there no canonical isomorphism from a finite dimensional vector space to its dual?

I've read in several places that one motivation for category theory was to be able to give precise meaning to statements like, "finite dimensional vector spaces are canonically isomorphic to their ...
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### If $e^A$ and $e^B$ commute, do $A$ and $B$ commute?

It is known that if two matrices $A,B \in M_n(\mathbb{C})$ commute, then $e^A$ and $e^B$ commute. Is the converse true? If $e^A$ and $e^B$ commute, do $A$ and $B$ commute? Edit: Addionally, what ...
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### Motivation for spectral graph theory.

Why do we care about eigenvalues of graphs? Of course, any novel question in mathematics is interesting, but there is an entire discipline of mathematics devoted to studying these eigenvalues, so ...
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### Must eigenvalues be numbers?

This is more a conceptual question than any other kind. As far as I know, one can define matrices over arbitrary fields, and so do linear algebra in different settings than in the typical freshman-...
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### Calculate Rotation Matrix to align Vector A to Vector B in 3d?

I have one triangle in 3d space that I am tracking in a simulation. Between time steps I have the the previous normal of the triangle and the current normal of the triangle along with both the current ...
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### Is there a definition of determinants that does not rely on how they are calculated?

In the few linear algebra texts I have read, the determinant is introduced in the following manner; "Here is a formula for what we call $detA$. Here are some other formulas. And finally, here are ...
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### Union of two vector subspaces not a subspace?

I'm having a difficult time understanding this statement. Can someone please explain with a concrete example?
### Eigenvalue problem: Prove that all of the eigenvalues of $A$ are $1$.
Here's a cute problem that was frequently given by the late Herbert Wilf during his talks. Problem: Let $A$ be an $n \times n$ matrix with entries from $\{0,1\}$ having all positive eigenvalues. ...