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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366
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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 ...
210
votes
4answers
90k views

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 ...
162
votes
1answer
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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: $$\det\left(6(A^3+B^3+C^3)+I_{n}\right)\ge 5^n\det(A^2+B^2+C^2)$$ ...
155
votes
6answers
11k views

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 ...
130
votes
21answers
26k views

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 ...
125
votes
8answers
76k views

What is the importance of eigenvalues/eigenvectors?

What is the importance of eigenvalues/eigenvectors?
119
votes
5answers
5k views

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 ...
104
votes
13answers
11k views

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" ...
101
votes
4answers
22k views

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 $\lVert \cdot \rVert = \sqrt{\langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle}$ ...
97
votes
18answers
13k views

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 ...
92
votes
1answer
6k views

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 ...
87
votes
5answers
11k views

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 ...
82
votes
23answers
12k views

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 ...
74
votes
17answers
72k views

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 ...
73
votes
10answers
4k views

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 ...
73
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3answers
3k views

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: ...
72
votes
4answers
12k views

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?
67
votes
18answers
12k views

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 ...
67
votes
19answers
19k views

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 ...
66
votes
7answers
3k views

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 ...
65
votes
12answers
57k views

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 ...
63
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7answers
5k views

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 ...
61
votes
5answers
42k views

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 ...
60
votes
19answers
5k views

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 ...
60
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7answers
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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 ...
58
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9answers
85k views

Inverse of the sum of matrices

I have two square matrices - $A$ and $B$. $A^{-1}$ is known and I want to calculate $(A+B)^{-1}$. Are there theorems that help with calculating the inverse of the sum of matrices? In general case $B^{-...
58
votes
0answers
3k views

Limit of sequence of growing matrices

Let $$ H=\left(\begin{array}{cccc} 0 & 1/2 & 0 & 1/2 \\ 1/2 & 0 & 1/2 & 0 \\ 1/2 & 0 & 0 & 1/2\\ 0 & 1/2 & 1/2 & 0 \end{array}\right), $$ $K_1=\left(\...
57
votes
3answers
5k views

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 ...
56
votes
8answers
4k views

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 ...
55
votes
8answers
6k views

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 ...
54
votes
2answers
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 ...
52
votes
4answers
72k views

Eigenvectors of real symmetric matrices are orthogonal

Can someone point me to a paper, or show here, why symmetric matrices have orthogonal eigenvectors? In particular, I'd like to see proof that for a symmetric matrix $A$ there exists decomposition $A = ...
52
votes
4answers
3k views

linear algebra over a division ring vs. over a field

When I was studying linear algebra in the first year, from what I remember, vector spaces were always defined over a field, which was in every single concrete example equal to either $\mathbb{R}$ or $\...
52
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
49
votes
6answers
8k views

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 ...
49
votes
3answers
35k views

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 ...
49
votes
12answers
11k views

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 ...
47
votes
15answers
10k views

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 ...
47
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
47
votes
2answers
1k views

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 $AB = BA$,...
46
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
44
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1answer
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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 ...
43
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
42
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6answers
3k views

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 ...
41
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4answers
4k views

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-...
41
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14answers
76k views

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 ...
41
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5answers
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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 ...
40
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4answers
36k views

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?
40
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5answers
2k views

Why is the determinant defined in terms of permutations?

Where does the definition of the determinant come from, and is the definition in terms of permutations the first and basic one? What is the deep reason for giving such a definition in terms of ...
39
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3answers
2k views

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. ...