The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

Homogenous Linear Systems

An important special case of a linear system is a set of homogenous equations. All this means (in this case) is that the right side of each of the equations is zero.

In matrix notation (using the summation convention), we have the equation a_i^jx^i=0. Remember that this is actually a collection of n equations, one for each value of the index j. And in our more abstract notation we write Ax=0, where the right had side is the zero vector in \mathbb{F}^n.

So what is a solution of this system? It’s a vector x\in\mathbb{F}^m that gets sent to 0\in\mathbb{F}^n by the linear transformation A. But a vector that gets sent to the zero vector is exactly one in the kernel \mathrm{Ker}(A). So solving the homogenous system a_i^jx^i=0 is equivalent to determining the kernel of the linear transformation A.

We don’t yet have any tools for making this determination yet, but we can say some things about the set of solutions. For one thing, they form a subspace of \mathbb{F}^m. That is, the sum of any two solutions is again a solution, and a constant multiple of any solution is again a solution. We’re interested, then, in finding linearly independent solutions, because from them we can construct more solutions without redundancy.

A maximal collection of linearly independent solutions will be a basis for the subspace of solutions — for the kernel of the linear map. As such, the number of solutions in any maximal collection will be the dimension of this subspace, which we called the nullity of the linear transformation A. The rank-nullity theorem then tells us that we have a relationship between the number of independent solutions to the system (the nullity), the number of variables in the system (the dimension of \mathbb{F}^m), and the rank of A, which we will also call the rank of the system. Thus if we can learn ways to find the rank of the system then we can determine the number of independent solutions.

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July 14, 2008 - Posted by | Algebra, Linear Algebra

5 Comments »

  1. […] Linear Systems In distinction from homogenous systems we have inhomogenous systems. These are systems of linear equations where some of the constants on […]

    Pingback by Inhomogenous Linear Systems « The Unapologetic Mathematician | July 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] we’re still considering the solution set of an inhomogenous linear system and its associated homogenous system . Remember that we also wrote these systems in more abstract notation as and . The solution space […]

    Pingback by Affine Spaces « The Unapologetic Mathematician | July 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] of them. Given a particular solution, it defines a coset of the subspace of the solutions to the associated homogenous system. And that subspace is the kernel of a certain linear […]

    Pingback by Unsolvable Inhomogenous Systems « The Unapologetic Mathematician | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] is the dimension of the kernel of . In terms of the linear system, this is the dimension of the associated homogenous system . If there are any solutions of the system under consideration, they will form an affine space of […]

    Pingback by The Index of a Linear Map « The Unapologetic Mathematician | July 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. […] is the matrix of the system. If is the zero vector we have a homogeneous system, and otherwise we have an inhomogeneous system. So let’s use the singular value […]

    Pingback by The Meaning of the SVD « The Unapologetic Mathematician | August 18, 2009 | Reply


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