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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Use of matrices in transformation

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From: Loyd

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003102917:32:50
Subject: Re: use of matrices

I remember back in the early 60's about a mathematician who could solve 7 equations with seven unknowns. In those days, there were no computers readily available to solve these equations so he was valuable to have around. Myself, I was able to solve a set of 5 equations with 5 unknowns in my linear algebra class with extreme difficulty because I would keep making arithmetic errors. I did manage to solve one set of five, however. I was taught how to solve equations using matrices to solve these equations but it was at a fairly high abstract level, so matrices didn't help me much then. Then, the TI-83 calculator was invented and matrices became anap! I can easily plug in the coefficients into the TI-83 graphing calculator and then use the inverse of the matrix to solve 5, 7 or more equations if I want to! No problem! Matrices don't help everybody but I suspect a few people in any business industry uses them for initial designs. When you send people to the moon or anywhere in space, some engineers and mathematicians have to initially use matrices to design the equipment and plot the journey. Once computers are programed, then you may not need them very often. True, not everyone will use them, but a few will always need to have the skill in using matrices. Students who understand matrices will appreciate this knowledge.

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