Is it possible to integrate a matrix?

I've been working through a problem and come up with $$\int_{t_0}^t \begin{pmatrix}\sin(s)\cdot\cos(\beta s)\\ \cos(s)\cdot\cos(\beta s)\end{pmatrix}ds$$

I'm integrating from $t_0$ to $t$

Can this be done or do we think I went wrong somewhere?

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't your integrand function simply $\;\tan s\;$ ...? $\endgroup$
    – DonAntonio
    Jul 23, 2013 at 19:17
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Did you mean $$\int \begin{pmatrix} \sin s & \cos (\beta s)\\ \cos s & \cos (\beta s)\end{pmatrix}\, ds$$ $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2013 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, okay, doesn't matter much. Anyway, just integrate componentwise. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2013 at 19:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's a 2x1 matrix. I'd be greftful if you could do the edit for me! $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Jul 23, 2013 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ After the editing I see a $\,2\times 2\;$ matrix... $\endgroup$
    – DonAntonio
    Jul 23, 2013 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Matrices form a vector space. Therefore, you can simply integrate them componentwise.

In detail. Let $A:t\mapsto A(t)$ be a function from a real interval $I$ to the space of $m\times n$ real matrices. Every entry $a_{ij}$ is a real function of a real variable. If all entries are integrable functions, then you can define the integral of the matrix as the matrix of the integrals:

$$\int A(t)\,dt := \left( \int a_{ij}(t)\,dt \right).$$

For your problem:

$$\int \begin{pmatrix}\sin(s)&\cos(\beta s)\\ \cos(s)&\cos(\beta s)\end{pmatrix}ds = \begin{pmatrix}\int\sin(s)\,ds &\int\cos(\beta s)\,ds\\ \int\cos(s)\,ds&\int\cos(\beta s)\,ds\end{pmatrix} = \begin{pmatrix}-\cos(s)&\frac{1}{\beta}\sin(\beta s)\\ \sin(s)&\frac{1}{\beta}\sin(\beta s)\end{pmatrix}. $$

There is a more sophisticated operation, in case the matrix in question belongs to a Lie algebra: ordered exponentiation. It is to integration as exponentiation is to multiplication, and permits to go from a Lie algebra element (intuitively, a differential transformation) to a group element (a whole transformation). In this case, you need a $n\times n$ matrix-valued function.

It is explained quite well here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordered_exponential.

  • $\begingroup$ Matrices...*of the same order*...form a vector space. Why this makes that "therefore" appear there is beyond my comprehension, though. $\endgroup$
    – DonAntonio
    Jul 23, 2013 at 19:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DonAntonio: Because addition in that vector space is componentwise (and so is scalar multiplication). $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2013 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ @geodude. Are you saying that if our matrix belongs to a Lie algebra, then we can define the integral of that matrix using ordered exponentiation? Do you have any further resource links on this subject? I've tried looking online but find either very specialized resources or nothing at all (except for the one link you cite) $\endgroup$
    – pshmath0
    Oct 9, 2013 at 20:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @pbs: Yes, precisely. I have the same problem, there isn't much material to gain insight on that! I used such a concept in this answer, if that can help: math.stackexchange.com/questions/223024/… For something in rigor, look here: dml.cz/bitstream/handle/10338.dmlcz/401130/…. $\endgroup$
    – geodude
    Oct 10, 2013 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ I found these related links useful: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_integral and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiplicative_calculus. Fascinating! $\endgroup$
    – pshmath0
    Oct 11, 2013 at 19:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .