UCT MAM1000 lecture notes part 50 – linear algebra part iii

Gauss reduction

So far we have seen that we have a way to translate a system of linear equations into a matrix. We can manipulate the matrix in ways which correspond to operations on the equations which keep the important information in the system of equations the same (ie. the solution of the equations before and after the operations is the same). We have seen a couple of examples of when we can read off the solution from the matrix having performed the operations. So far the order with which we perform the operations feels a bit arbitrary, although we know that we would like to get the matrix into reduced row echelon form. There is however a very systematic way of going about this, and the term for the process is called Gauss Reduction.

Here is a detailed view of what Gauss Reduction will give us:

Gauss Reduction:

To solve a system of linear equations:


1) First find the augmented coefficient matrix of the system of equations.…

UCT MAM1000 lecture notes part 49 – linear algebra part ii


Solving a system of linear equations is not technically difficult: just eliminate the variables in a systematic fashion. When there are only two or three variables, this is easy to manage. But for a bigger system, things can quickly get confusing. We need to develop a systematic method.

The first thing to notice is that the names of the variables don’t matter. Consider, for example, the two systems


\begin{array}{cc}  x + y &=3\\  2x-y &= 4  \end{array}




\begin{array}{cc}  u + v &=3\\  2u-v &= 4  \end{array}


It’s clear that if we ignore the names of the variables — x and y versus u and v — these two systems are the same. The reason we can tell that they’re the same is because the {\em coefficients} of the variables are the same and the numbers on the right hand side are the same. These are really the only things about a system of linear equations that matter, and so what we can do is strip the system down to its bare bones and rewrite it like this:


\left(  \begin{array}{cc|c}  1&1&3\\  2&-1&4  \end{array}  \right)


This is an augmented coefficient matrix (in general, a rectangular array of numbers, like the above, is called a matrix; a matrix with an additional vertical line, which plays the same role as the equals signs in the original equations, is augmented).…