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Getting Down with Determinants: Defining det ( A ) Via the PA = LU Decomposition. Henry Ricardo Medgar Evers College (CUNY) Brooklyn, NY [email protected] Joint Mathematics Meetings San Diego, January 7, 2008. Seki and Leibniz. Cauchy. Cayley and Sylvester.

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Getting Down with Determinants: Defining det ( A ) Via the PA = LU Decomposition

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Getting Down with Determinants:Defining det (A)Via thePA = LU Decomposition

Henry Ricardo

Medgar Evers College (CUNY)

Brooklyn, NY

[email protected]

Joint Mathematics Meetings

San Diego, January 7, 2008


Seki and Leibniz


Cauchy


Cayley and Sylvester


…mathematics, like a river, is everchanging in its course, and major branches can dry up to become minor tributaries while small trickling brooks can develop into raging torrents.

This is precisely what occurred with determinants and matrices. The study and use of determinants eventually gave way to Cayley’s matrix algebra, and today matrix and linear algebra are in the main stream of applied mathematics,

whilethe role of determinants has been relegated to a minor backwater position.

—Carl D. Meyer


“Determinants are difficult, nonintuitive, and

often defined without motivation.”

—Sheldon Axler

“Down with Determinants!”

—Sheldon Axler

(Amer. Math. Monthly102 (1995), 139-154)


“It is hard to know what to say about

determinants….”

“There is one more problem about the

determinant. It is difficult not only to decide

on its importance, and its proper place in the

theory of linear algebra, butalso to decide

on its definition.”[emphasis mine]

- Gilbert Strang, Linear Algebra and Its Applications (3rdEdn.)


The Usual Suspects

  • Laplace’s expansion (minors/cofactors)

  • Permutation definition

  • Uniquealternating multilinear function

  • Signedvolume of a parallelepiped


Preliminaries I

  • Gaussian elimination

    • elementary row operations

    • REF (not unique)

    • RREF (unique)

  • Elementary matrices (3 types)

    • elementary row ops via premultiplication

  • Invertible matrices


Preliminaries II

  • LU Decomposition

    • doesn’t always exist

    • is unique if a nonsingular matrix has an LU factorization

    • can be used to solve a system:


Preliminaries III

  • PA = LU Decomposition

    • always exists

    • is unique if A is nonsingular (i.e., prod. of is unique)

    • can be used to solve a system:


DEFINITION

Given an n × n matrix A, the determinant of A, denoted

det (A) or |A|, is defined as follows:

where and k is the number of row interchanges

represented by P.


Example


Example(Cont.)

Note: det (A) = (-1)(-1)(1)(-27) = -27

.

So by forward substitution (top-down)


Example(Cont.)

So by back substitution c =


Properties

Standard properties of the determinant follow

easily from previous work with elementary

matrices and from the definition itself.


Summary

  • The determinant appears as a natural consequence of using the PA = LU factorization to solve a system of equations.

  • “Handwaving” is minimal.

  • Standard properties of an n x n determinant follow easily.


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