Definition: Row Echelon Form of a Matrix A matrix in Row Echelon Form (REF) has the following properties: 1.

All rows consisting entirely of zeros occur at the bottom of the matrix. 2. *Below each leading coefficient (first non-zero entry in a given row, also referred to as a pivot) is a column of zeros. 3. Each pivot lies to the right of the pivot in the row above, producing a ”stair case” pattern. * In some books, they require that the leading coefficient of each non-zero row is 1. Example: Write the following matrix in row echelon form:   9 1   −1  −7   −7 −6   0  9

0 −3 −6 4  −1 −2 −1 3   −2 −3 0 3 1 4 5 −9 ⇓ R1  R4 −9 3 3 4

1  0   0 0

4 2 0 −3

5 4 0 −6 ⇓

−9 −6 0 4

1 4 5  −1 −2 −1   −2 −3 0 0 −3 −6 ⇓ R1 + R2 → R2  1  0   −2 0 4 2 −3 −3 5 4 0 −6

−7 1   −1  9

R3 

R4 4 2 −3 0 5 4 −6 0 −9 −6 4 0  −7 −6   9  0

1  0   0 0

−9 −6 3 4

 −7 −6   −1  9

⇓ (3/2)R2 + R3 → R3  1 4 5 −9 −7  0 2 4 −6 −6   0 0 0 −5 0 0 0 0 0 0

   

⇓ 2R1 + R3 → R3  1 4  0 2   0 5 0 −3 5 4 10 −6 −9 −6 −15 4 −7 −6   −15  9 

In certain books, the above matrix is in Row Echelon Form. We can carry out one more step to obtain 1’s in the pivot position. ⇓ (1/2)R2 → R2 (−1/5)R3 → R3  1  0   0 0 4 1 0 0  5 −9 −7 2 −3 −3   0 1 0  0 0 0

⇓ (−5/2)R2 + R3 → R3

The above matrix is in Row Echelon Form. The boxed numbers are the pivots.

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