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Q&A #7255


Matrices versus Arrays

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From: Kimberley (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 11, 2001 at 12:55:21
Subject: Re: Matrices versus Arrays

>Even though we think of a matrix being two dinensional, can it not be used 
>to represent 3 [x,y,z] equations with 3 unknowns which are talked about in
>the 3rd dimension in college Calculus textbooks?

Daniel,

Matrices are used to solve 3 equations in 3 unknowns (x,y,z).  I believe that 
although the equation may represent a situation in 3 dimensions, the way we 
set up the matrix does not.  In fact matrices can be used to solve problems 
with 100 variables, although certainly not ones calculated by hand!  As the 
number of variables and number of equations increase, the size of the matrix 
to represent them, also increases. 
 
My thought is that only two matrices are used to solve a system, no matter 
what size it is:  the square one which contains the coefficients of the 
variables in the equations and the column matrix which contains the constants 
to which those equations are equal.  The column matrix will always be of 
dimension n x 1, where n is the number of variables in the system.

This is not a well-researched answer as the one Suzanne gave to your first 
question, just a "reasoned" one from what I know about solving systems using 
matrices.  Hope it helps.

 -Kimberley, for the T2T service

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