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, bn } be a basis of a

vector space V , and let T = {w1 , w2 , . . . , wr } be a

set of linearly independent vectors in V . We need

to show that r n.

The idea is to replace the vectors in 0 by vectors

in T , one at a time, to get new bases, each with n

vectors. Eventually, all the vectors in T will be

part of a basis having n vectors, and that will show

r n.

Now, to get the replacement going right, add the

vectors of T to 0 one at a time. Suppose that

weve done that for a while and weve replaced i of

the vectors in 0 with i of the vectors in V . Then

well have a basis i of n vectors

Dimension

Math 130 Linear Algebra

D Joyce, Fall 2013

Wed like to be able to say that the dimension

of a vector space is the number of vectors in its

basis, but we cant yet since we havent yet proved

that any two bases of a vector space have the same

number of vectors. Well do that, at least in the

case that a vector space has a finite basis. If a

vector space doesnt have a finite basis, it will have

an infinite dimension. Weve got enough to do just

to with the finite dimensional ones.

The argument that shows two bases have the

same size works by replacing the vectors of one with

the vectors of the other. Well state that separately

and call it the Replacement Theorem. The desired

theorem, that two bases have the same number of

vectors, follows from that as a corollary.

i = {w1 , . . . , wi , bi+1 , . . . , bn }

wi+1 .

Since i is a basis, therefore wi+1 is a linear combination of vectors in i . It cant depend only on

the vectors w1 , . . . , wi because the ws are independent, so that linear combination depends on one of

the bs. Reindex the bs so a vector wi+1 that depends on is bi+1 . Well replace vi+1 with wi+1 to

Summary of points discussed so far. Recall get

that a subset S of a vector space V is linearly indei+1 = {w1 , . . . , wi+1 , bi+2 , . . . , bn }

pendent if 0 is not a nontrivial linear combination

of the vectors in S. Equivalently, no vector in S is We have to show that i+1 is a basis for V .

Claim. i+1 spans V . We know every vector in

a linear combination of the rest of the vectors in S.

V

is a combo of vectors in i , and every vector in

Also, recall that S is a basis of V if (1) it spans

V , and (2) it is linearly independent. Equivalently, i is a vector in i+1 except the vector bi+1 which

each vector in V may be uniquely represented as a is a combo of vectors in i+1 , therefore every vector

in V is a combo of vectors in i+1 . Thus i+1 spans

linear combination of vectors from S.

We also saw that every finite spanning subset of V .

Claim. i+1 is independent. Suppose you have 0

a vector space has a subset which is a basis of that

as a nontrivial linear combination of vectors of i+1 .

vector space.

Since wi+1 is a linear combination of vectors in i ,

that would give a nontrivial linear combination of

The Replacement Theorem. The replacement

vectors in i . But i is independent, so that cant

theorem will allow us to replace vectors in a basis

happen. Thus i+1 is independent.

with other vectors to get a new basis. Its proof

Therefore i+1 is a basis for V .

requires attention to detail.

Continue replacing vectors until all the vectors

Theorem 1 (Replacement). If a basis of a vector in T have replaced vectors of the original 0 . We

space has n vectors, then no linearly independent end up with a basis of n vectors that includes all r

vectors from T . Therefore r n.

q.e.d.

set of vectors has more than n vectors.

1

Dimension of a vector space. The following Proof. We know that theres a subset S 0 of the n

corollary follows directly from the last theorem.

vectors S that form a basis for the space. But every basis of the space has n vectors. Therefore the

Corollary 2. Any two bases of a vector space have subset S 0 has to be all of S.

q.e.d.

the same number of vectors (assuming at least one

is a finite basis).

Math 130 Home Page at

Proof. Since each basis is an independent set of vechttp://math.clarku.edu/~djoyce/ma130/

tors it has no more vectors than the other basis.

Hence, the two bases have the same number of vectors.

q.e.d.

Definition 3. If a vector space as a finite basis,

then the dimension of a vector space is the number

of vectors in any of its bases.

For example, Rn has dimension n. Also, Pn , the

space of polynomials in t of degree less than or equal

to n, is a vector space of dimension n + 1. Also,

Mmn , the space of m n matrices, has dimension

mn.

More on bases, linear independence, and

spanning sets. There are a few more observations we can make about bases and these related

concepts.

Corollary 4. Any linearly independent set of vectors in a finite-dimensional vector space can be extended to a basis.

Proof. Take any basis and replace the vectors in

that basis with the linearly independent vectors

as done in the replacement theorem. Youll end

up with a basis that includes the independent

set.

q.e.d.

Corollary 5. If n vectors in a vector space of dimension n are independent, then they form a basis.

Proof. They can be extended to a basis of n vectors, but there are already n vectors, so it is itself

that extension. That is to say, its already a basis.

q.e.d.

Corollary 6. If n vectors in a vector space of dimension n span the space, then they form a basis.

2

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