Jun 18

From invertibility to determinants: argument is more important than result

From invertibility to determinants: argument is more important than result

Interestingly enough, determinants appeared before matrices.

Invertibility condition and expression for the inverse

Exercise 1. Let A be a 2\times 2 matrix. Using the condition AA^{-1}=I, find the invertibility condition and the inverse B=A^{-1}.

Solution. A good notation is half of the solution. Denote

A=\left(\begin{array}{cc}a&b\\c&d\end{array}\right), B=\left(\begin{array}{cc}x&u\\y&v\end{array}\right).

It should be true that

\left(\begin{array}{cc}a&b\\c&d\end{array}\right)\left(\begin{array}{cc}x&u\\y&v\end{array}  \right)=\left(\begin{array}{cc}1&0\\0&1\end{array}\right).

This gives us four equations ax+by=1,\ au+bv=0,\ cx+dy=0,\ cu+dv=1. The
notation guides us to consider two systems:

\left\{\begin{array}{c}ax+by=1\\cx+dy=0\end{array}\right. , \left\{\begin{array}{c}au+bv=0\\cu+dv=1\end{array}\right.

From the first system we have

\left\{\begin{array}{c}adx+bdy=d\\bcx+bdy=0\end{array}\right. .

Subtracting the second equation from the first we get (ad-bc)x=d. Hence, imposing the condition

(1) ad-bc\neq 0

we have x=\frac{d}{ad-bc}.

Definition. The method for solving a system of linear equations applied here is called an elimination method: we multiply the two equations by something in such a way that after subtracting one equation from another one variable is eliminated. There is also a substitution method: you solve one equation for one variable and plug the resulting expression into another equation. The elimination method is better because it allows one to see the common structure of the resulting expressions.

Use this method to find the other variables:

y=\frac{-c}{ad-bc}, u=\frac{-b}{ad-bc}, v=\frac{a}{ad-bc}.

Thus (1) is the condition for the existence of the inverse and the inverse is

(2) A^{-1}=\frac{1}{ad-bc}\left(\begin{array}{cc}d&-b\\-c&a\end{array}\right).

Exercise 2. Check that (2) satisfies

(3) AA^{-1}=I.


Definition. The expression \det A=ad-bc is called a determinant of the matrix A=\left(\begin{array}{cc}a&b\\c&d\end{array}\right).

Exercise 3. Check that \det(AB)=\det A\det B (multiplicativity). Hint. Find the left and right sides and compare them.

Exercise 4. How much is \det I?

Exercise 5 (why do we need the determinant?) Prove that A is invertible if and only if \det A\neq 0.

Proof. Suppose \det A\neq 0. Then, as we know, the inverse exists. Conversely, suppose the inverse exists. Then it satisfies (3). Apply \det  to both sides of (3):

(4) (\det A)\det (A^{-1})=1.

This shows that \det A\neq 0.

Exercise 6 (determinant of an inverse) What is the relationship between \det A and \det A^{-1}?

Solution. From (4) we see that

(5) \det (A^{-1})=(\det A)^{-1}.

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