the \ufb01rst box is the determinant shown (the absolute value of the size is the area). The size of the second box isx1 times that, and equals the size of the \ufb01nal box. Hence,x1 is the \ufb01nal determinant divided by the \ufb01rst determinant.
The material is standard in that the topics covered are Gaussian reduction, vector spaces, linear maps, determinants, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors. The audience is also standard: sophmores or juniors, usually with a background of at least one semester of Calculus and perhaps with as much as three semesters.
The help that it gives to students comes from taking a developmental ap- proach \u2014 this book\u2019s presentation emphasizes motivation and naturalness, driven home by a wide variety of examples and extensive, careful, exercises. The de- velopmental approach is what sets this book apart, so some expansion of the term is appropriate here.
Courses in the beginning of most Mathematics programs reward students less for understanding the theory and more for correctly applying formulas and algorithms. Later courses ask for mathematical maturity: the ability to follow di\ufb00erent types of arguments, a familiarity with the themes that underly many mathematical investigations like elementary set and function facts, and a capac- ity for some independent reading and thinking. Linear algebra is an ideal spot to work on the transistion between the two kinds of courses. It comes early in a program so that progress made here pays o\ufb00 later, but also comes late enough that students are often majors and minors. The material is coherent, accessible, and elegant. There are a variety of argument styles \u2014 proofs by contradiction, if and only if statements, and proofs by induction, for instance \u2014 and examples are plentiful.
So, the aim of this book\u2019s exposition is to help students develop from being successful at their present level, in classes where a majority of the members are interested mainly in applications in science or engineering, to being successful at the next level, that of serious students of the subject of mathematics itself.
Helping students make this transition means taking the mathematics seri- ously, so all of the results in this book are proved. On the other hand, we cannot assume that students have already arrived, and so in contrast with more abstract texts, we give many examples and they are often quite detailed.
In the past, linear algebra texts commonly made this transistion abrubtly. They began with extensive computations of linear systems, matrix multiplica- tions, and determinants. When the concepts \u2014 vector spaces and linear maps \u2014 \ufb01nally appeared, and de\ufb01nitions and proofs started, often the change brought students to a stop. In this book, while we start with a computational topic,
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