Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction 4th Edition
Book Preface
The fourth edition of Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction preserves the approach and features that users found to be strengths of the previous editions. However, I have streamlined the text somewhat, added numerous clarifications, and freshened up the exercises.
I want students to see linear algebra as an exciting subject and to appreciate its tremendous usefulness. At the same time, I want to help them master the basic concepts and techniques of linear algebra that they will need in other courses, both in mathematics and in other disciplines. I also want students to appreciate the interplay of theoretical, applied, and numerical mathematics that pervades the subject.
This book is designed for use in an introductory one- or two-semester course sequence in linear algebra. First and foremost, it is intended for students, and I have tried my best to write the book so that students not only will find it readable but also will want to read it. As in the first three editions, I have taken into account the reality that students taking introductory linear algebra are likely to come from a variety of disciplines. In addition to mathematics majors, there are apt to be majors from engineering, physics, chemistry, computer science, biology, environmental science, geography, economics, psychology, business, and education, as well as other students taking the course as an elective or to fulfill degree requirements. Accordingly, the book balances theory and applications, is written in a conversational style yet is fully rigorous, and combines a traditional presentation with concern for student-centered learning. There is no such thing as a universally best learning style. In any class, there will be some students who work well independently and others who work best in groups; some who prefer lecture-based learning and others who thrive in a workshop setting, doing explorations; some who enjoy algebraic manipulations, some who are adept at numerical calculations (with and without a computer), and some who exhibit strong geometric intuition. In this edition, I continue to present material in a variety of ways-algebraically, geometrically, numerically, and verbally-so that all types oflearners can find a path to follow. I have also attempted to present the theoretical, computational, and applied topics in a flexible yet integrated way. In doing so, it is my hope that all students will be exposed to the many sides of linear algebra.
This book is compatible with the recommendations of the Linear Algebra Curriculum Study Group. From a pedagogical point of view, there is no doubt that for most students believe strongly that linear algebra is essentially about vectors and that students need to see vectors first (in a concrete setting) in order to gain some geometric insight. Moreover, introducing vectors early allows students to see how systems of linear equations arise naturally from geometric problems. Matrices then arise equally naturally as coefficient matrices oflinear systems and as agents of change (linear transformations). This sets the stage for eigenvectors and orthogonal projections, both of which are best understood geometrically. The dart that appears on the cover of this book symbolizes a vector and reflects my conviction that geometric understanding should precede computational techniques.
I have tried to limit the number of theorems in the text. For the most part, results labeled as theorems either will be used later in the text or summarize preceding work. Interesting results that are not central to the book have been included as exercises or explorations. For example, the cross product of vectors is discussed only in explorations (in Chapters 1 and 4). Unlike most linear algebra textbooks, this book has no chapter on determinants. The essential results are all in Section 4.2, with other interesting material contained in an exploration. The book is, however, comprehensive for an introductory text. Wherever possible, I have included elementary and accessible proofs of theorems in order to avoid having to say, “The proof of this result is beyond the scope of this text:’ The result is, I hope, a work that is self-contained.
I have not been stingy with the applications: There are many more in the book than can be covered in a single course. However, it is important that students see the impressive range of problems to which linear algebra can be applied. I have included some modern material on finite linear algebra and coding theory that is not normally found in an introductory linear algebra text. There are also several impressive real-world applications of linear algebra and one item of historical, if not practical, interest; these applications are presented as self-contained “vignettes:’
I hope that instructors will enjoy teaching from this book. More important, I hope that students using the book will come away with an appreciation of the beauty, power, and tremendous utility of linear algebra and that they will have fun along the way.
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