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**3 : The Inverse of a 3 ×3 Matrix
**

For any n ×n matrix the adjoint and determinant are deﬁned and satisfy

A ×adj(A) = adj(A) ×A = det(A) ×I

n

Provided det(A) = 0, A is invertible and

A

−1

=

1

det(A)

×adj(A)

(If det(A) = 0, A does not have an inverse).

However the deﬁnition of the determinant and adjoint are much more compli-

cated than in the 2 ×2 case.

Example 4.3.1

∗

: Let A =

1 3 0

2 −2 1

−4 1 −1

. Find A

−1

The Adjoint of A

Step 1 The Matrix of Minors

For each entry (A)

ij

of A, we deﬁne the minor M

ij

of (A)

ij

to be the deter-

minant of the 2 × 2 matrix which remains when the ith row and jth column

(i.e. the row and column containing (A)

ij

) are deleted from A.

We begin by computing the 9 minors :

M

11

: M

11

= det

−2 1

1 −1

= −2(−1) −(1)(1) = 1

M

12

: M

12

= det

2 1

−4 −1

= 2(−1) −(1)(−4) = 2

M

13

: M

13

= det

2 −2

−4 1

= 2(1) −(−2)(−4) = −6

M

21

: M

21

= det

3 0

1 −1

= 3(−1) −(0)(1) = −3

M

22

: M

22

= det

1 0

−4 −1

= 1(−1) −(0)(−4) = −1

M

23

: M

23

= det

1 3

−4 1

= 1(1) −(3)(−4) = 13

M

31

: M

31

= det

3 0

−2 1

= 3(1) −(0)(−2) = 3

1

M

32

: M

32

= det

1 0

2 1

= 1(1) −(0)(2) = 1

M

33

: M

11

= det

1 3

2 −2

= 1(−2) −(3)(2) = −8

We now write the matrix of minors M of A deﬁned by

(M)

ij

= the minor of (A)

ij

.

M =

1 2 −6

−3 −1 13

3 1 −8

Step 2 The Matrix of Cofactors We deﬁne the cofactor C

ij

of the entry (A)

ij

of A as

follows:

C

ij

= M

ij

if i +j is even

C

ij

= −M

ij

if i +j is odd

We have the following pattern of signs : in the positions marked “−”, C

ij

=

−M

ij

, and in the positions marked “+”, C

ij

= M

ij

:

+ − +

− + −

+ − +

We now write down C, the matrix of cofactors of A. The matrix C diﬀers

from M by the above pattern of signs. Its entry in the ith row and jth column

is the cofactor of (A)

ij

.

C =

+(1) −(2) +(−6)

−(−3) +(−1) −(13)

+(3) −(1) +(−8)

=

1 −2 −6

3 −1 −13

3 −1 −8

Step 3 The Adjoint

The adjoint of A is C

tr

, the transpose of the matrix of cofactors.

adj(A) =

1 3 3

−2 −1 −1

−6 −13 −8

We now ﬁnd A ×adj(A) :

A×adj(A) =

1 3 0

2 −2 1

−4 1 −1

1 3 3

−2 −1 −1

−6 −13 −8

=

−5 0 0

0 −5 0

0 0 −5

= −5×I

3

2

Also adj(A) ×A = −5 ×I

3

(Check).

Thus det(A) = −5 and

A

−1

= −

1

5

×adj(A) = −

1

5

1 3 3

−2 −1 −1

−6 −13 −8

The 3 ×3 Determinant

Let A be a 3 ×3 matrix. Then det(A) can be found without computing adj(A),

as follows :

Example 4.3.2

∗

Let A =

2 1 3

−1 2 1

−2 2 3

. Find det(A).

Solution: Let C

ij

denote the cofactor of the entry (A)

ij

of A. Recall C

ij

is given

by the determinant of the 2 × 2 obtained from A by deleting the row and column

containing A

ij

, with possibly a change of sign according to the following pattern:-

+ − +

− + −

+ − +

Find the cofactors of the entries in the 1st row of A:

C

11

= +det

2 1

2 3

= 4

C

12

= −det

−1 1

−2 3

= 1

C

13

= +det

−1 2

−2 2

= 2

Then

= A

11

C

11

+A

12

C

12

+A

13

C

13

= 2(4) + 1(1) + 3(2)

= 15

This method of computing the determinant is called cofactor expansion along

the ﬁrst row.

det(A) = A

11

C

11

+A

12

C

12

+A

13

C

13

3

Note: We could also do the cofactor expansion along the 2nd row:

det(A) = A

21

C

21

+A

22

C

22

+A

23

C

23

entries of 2nd row of A multiplied by their cofactors

C

21

= −det

1 3

2 3

= 3

C

22

= +det

2 3

−2 3

= 12

C

23

= −det

2 1

−2 2

= −6

det(A) = −1(3) + 2(12) + 1(−6) = 15

In fact, any row or column of A may be used for the cofactor expansion, so we

have six diﬀerent formulae for det(A) :

1st row : det(A) = A

11

C

11

+A

12

C

12

+A

13

C

13

2nd row : det(A) = A

21

C

21

+A

22

C

22

+A

23

C

23

3rd row : det(A) = A

31

C

31

+A

32

C

32

+A

33

C

33

1st column : det(A) = A

11

C

11

+A

21

C

21

+A

31

C

31

2nd column : det(A) = A

12

C

12

+A

22

C

22

+A

32

C

32

3rd column : det(A) = A

13

C

13

+A

23

C

23

+A

33

C

33

Each of the expressions appearing on the right in the above formulae is a sum

of (entry of A) ×(its cofactor) along a particular row or column of A.

Explanation of these formulae: The adjoint of A is the transpose of the matrix of

cofactors of A; i.e.

adj(A) =

C

11

C

21

C

31

C

12

C

22

C

32

C

13

C

23

C

33

A ×adj(A) =

det(A) 0 0

0 det(A) 0

0 0 det(A)

= adj(A) ×A

Working out the entries of A × adj(A) on the diagonal gives the ﬁrst three of our

six formulae for det(A) above. The second three come from adj(A) ×A.

4

Alternative Method: “Basket-Weave” A 3 × 3 determinant can be found using

the “basket-weave” method. For example, let A be the matrix of Example 4.3.2

∗

:

Step 1 Write down A, and write its 1st 2 columns again on the right :

2 1 3 2 1

−1 2 1 −1 2

−2 2 3 −2 2

Step 2 det(A) is given by :

“Sum of products along diagonals” − “Sum of products along diagonals”

det(A) = 2(2)(3) + 1(1)(−2) + 3(−1)(2) −[3(2)(−2) + 2(1)(2) + 1(−1)(3)]

= 12 −2 −6 −(−12 + 4 −3)

= 4 −(−11)

= 15

Note: The “Basket-Weave” method applies to 3 × 3 matrices only. The cofactor

expansion method can be applied to all n ×n matrices for any n.

Summary (of Section 4.3) To ﬁnd the inverse of a 3 ×3 matrix A :

1. Find det(A) by cofactor expansion along a row or column, or by the “basket-

weave” method.

2. If det(A) = 0, then A has no inverse.

If det(A) = 0, ﬁnd adj(A) by calculating all the cofactors of A as in Example

4.3.1

∗

.

3. The inverse of A is then given by

A

−1

=

1

det(A)

adj(A)

5

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