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**Introduction to MATLAB 7 for Engineers
**

William J. Palm III

Chapter 6

Linear Algebraic Equations

Copyright © 2005. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.

Several methods are available for solving linear algebraic equations by hand. The appropriate choice depends on user preference, on the number of equations, and on the structure of the equations to be solved. We demonstrate two methods: (1) successive elimination of variables, and (2) Cramer’s method (in Section 6.3). The MATLAB method is based on the successive elimination technique, but Cramer’s method gives us some insight into the existence and uniqueness of solutions and into the effects of numerical inaccuracy. More? See pages 359-362.

6-2

A singular problem refers to a set of equations having either no unique solution or no solution at all. For example, the set 3x - 4y = 5 6x - 8y = 10 is singular and has no unique solution because the second equation is identical to the first equation, multiplied by 2. The graphs of these two equations are identical. All we can say is that the solution must satisfy y = (3x - 5)/4, which describes an infinite number of solutions. More? See pages 362-364.

6-3

The equations

6x – 10y = 2

3x – 4y = 5

have graphs that intersect at the solution y = 4, x = 7.

6-4

The graphs of two equations that intersect at a solution. Figure 6.1–1

6-5

1–6) (6. .1–2). Because they do not intersect.4y = 5 6x .1–7) is singular but has no solution. The graphs of these two equations are distinct but parallel (see Figure 6. no solution exists.8y = 3 (6.On the other hand. the set 3x .

1–2 6-6 .Parallel graphs indicate that no solution exists. Figure 6.

there is an infinite number of solutions for x and y.1–9) where a is a parameter.1–10) The solution is y = 0 only if a 12. where x = -2y. Multiply the second equation by 3 and subtract the result from the first equation to obtain (a .Consider the following set of homogeneous equations (which means that their right sides are all zero) 6x + ay = 0 2x + 4y = 0 (6.12)y = 0 (6. if a = 12.1–8) (6. 6-7 .

4x2 = 7 (6.Matrix notation enables us to represent multiple equations as a single matrix equation. .2–2) This set can be expressed in vector-matrix form as 2 9 3 -4 x1 x2 = 5 7 which can be represented in the following compact form Ax = b 6-8 (6.2–3) More? See pages 365-368.2–1) 3x1 . For example. consider the following set: 2x1 + 9x2 = 5 (6.

For the equation set Ax = b. then there is no unique solution. or an infinite number of solutions. 6-9 . there may be no solution at all. ● if |A| = 0. ● Depending on the values in the vector b.

For example. 6-10 . type x = A\b. b = [2. More? See pages 368-373. >> x = A\b x = 7 4 This method also works in some cases where the number of unknowns does not equal the number of equations. -10. 5]. -4].MATLAB provides the left-division method for solving the equation set Ax = b. 3. >> A = [6. To use the left-division method to solve for x. The left-division method is based on Gauss elimination.

then the equation set has a solution and it is unique.4. then you must use the methods presented in Section 6.If the number of equations equals the number of unknowns and if |A| 0. If |A| = 0 or if the number of equations does not equal the number of unknowns. 6-11 .

Application of linear equations: An electrical-resistance network. Example 6.2-2. Figure 6.2–1 6-12 .

. 2x + 9y = 5 3x . The following MATLAB session solves the following equations using MATLAB.-4].3714 0.7] >>x = inv(A)*b x = 2.0286 If you attempt to solve a singular problem using the inv command.4y = 7 >>A = [2. 6-13 More? See pages 373-377. MATLAB displays an error message. >>b = [5.The MATLAB command inv(A) computes the inverse of the matrix A.9.3.

2-4.Application of linear equations: Calculating cable tension for a suspended mass. Example 6. Figure 6.2–2 6-14 .

Cramer’s determinant D is the determinant of the matrix A in the matrix form Ax = b. More? See pages 377-379. D = |A|. Gives insight into the existence and uniqueness of solutions and into the effects of numerical inaccuracy. a singular problem can be identified by computing Cramer’s determinant D. 6-15 . When the number of variables equals the number of equations.Cramer’s Method Solves equations using determinants. the equations are singular because D appears in the denominator of the solutions. If the determinant D is zero.

the equation set is singular. 6-16 .Cramer’s Determinant and Singular Problems For the set 3x .4y = 5 6x .8y = 3 Cramer’s determinant is D = 3(-8) – (-4)(6) = 0 Because D = 0.

6-17 . ● furthermore. ● a nonzero solution exists only if the set is singular. If Cramer’s determinant is not zero. for a set of homogeneous linear algebraic equations that contains the same number of equations as unknowns. that is. if Cramer’s determinant is zero.In general. the homogeneous set has a zero solution. the solution is not unique. all the unknowns are zero. that is.

which are close to being singular.Cramer’s determinant gives some insight into illconditioned problems. More? See pages 379-380. 6-18 . A Cramer’s determinant close to zero indicates an ill-conditioned problem.

with one or more of the unknowns dependent on the remaining unknowns.Underdetermined Systems An underdetermined system does not contain enough information to solve for all of the unknown variables. Thus an infinite number of solutions can exist. For such systems the matrix inverse method and Cramer’s method will not work. usually because it has fewer equations than unknowns. 6-19 .

>>solution = A\b solution = 0 2 which corresponds to x = 0 and y = 2. 3]. for example. b = 6. x = 6 . >>A = [1. the left-division method will give a solution with some of the unknowns set equal to zero.3y. For example. An infinite number of solutions satisfy this equation.A simple example of an underdetermined systems is the equation x + 3y = 6 All we can do is solve for one of the unknowns in terms of the other. 6-20 . When there are more equations than unknowns.

For such systems the matrix inverse method and Cramer’s method will not work.An infinite number of solutions might exist even when the number of equations equals the number of unknowns. and the left-division method generates an error message warning us that the matrix A is singular. 6-21 . In such cases the pseudoinverse method x = pinv(A)*b gives one solution. the minimum norm solution. This situation can occur when |A| = 0.

See slide 6-29. some of the unknowns can be expressed in terms of the remaining unknowns. 6-22 . whose values are arbitrary. We can use the rref command to find these relations.In cases that have an infinite number of solutions.

The set Ax = b with m equations and n unknowns has solutions if and only if rank[A] = rank[A b] Let r = rank[A]. an infinite number of solutions exists and r unknown variables can be expressed as linear combinations of the other n . ● If condition (1) is satisfied but r < n.Existence and uniqueness of solutions. 6-23 (1) . whose values are arbitrary.r unknown variables. then the solution is unique. ● If condition (1) is satisfied and if r = n.

For this case rank[A] = rank[A b] always. exists if and only if rank[A] < n. A nonzero solution. and thus the set always has the trivial solution x = 0. the homogeneous set always has a nonzero solution. 6-24 . in which at least one unknown is nonzero.Homogeneous case. If m < n. The homogeneous set Ax = 0 is a special case in which b = 0.

If you try to solve a singular set using MATLAB. 6-25 .Recall that if |A| = 0. it prints a message warning that the matrix is singular and does not try to solve the problem. the equation set is singular.

The ill-conditioned status depends on the accuracy with which the solution calculations are made. When the internal numerical accuracy used by MATLAB is insufficient to obtain a solution.An ill-conditioned set of equations is a set that is close to being singular. More? See pages 380-385. 6-26 . MATLAB prints a message to warn you that the matrix is close to singular and that the results might be inaccurate.

The pinv command can obtain a solution of an underdetermined set. and the pinv command produces a solution that gives the minimum value of the Euclidean norm. which is the magnitude of the solution vector x. type x = pinv(A)*b Underdetermined sets have an infinite number of solutions. 6-27 . To solve the equation set Ax = b using the pinv command. More? See pages 385-388.

A light fixture and its free-body diagram. Example 6. Figure 6.A Statically indeterminate problem.4-3.4–1 6-28 .

which is called the reduced row echelon form. 6-29 More? See pages 388-393. The syntax is rref([A b]). The MATLAB rref function provides a procedure to reduce an equation set to this form.The rref function. . The output is the augmented matrix [C d] that corresponds to the equation set Cx = d. We can obtain such a form by multiplying the set’s equations by suitable factors and adding the resulting equations to eliminate an unknown variable. This set is in reduced row echelon form. We can always express some of the unknowns in an underdetermined set as functions of the remaining unknowns.

Figure 6. A network of oneway streets.4–2 6-30 .Example of an underdetermined system. Example 6.4-6.

For such a system the matrix inverse method and Cramer’s method will not work because the A matrix is not square. An overdetermined system is a set of equations that has more independent equations than unknowns.Overdetermined Systems. 6-31 . However. some overdetermined systems have exact solutions. and they can be obtained with the left division method x = A\b.

no exact solution exists. When MATLAB gives an answer to an overdetermined set.5–1.For other overdetermined systems. it does not tell us whether the answer is the exact solution. while in other cases the left-division method gives an answer that satisfies the equation set only in a “least squares” sense. In some of these cases. as explained in Example 6. the left-division method does not yield an answer. 6-32 .

5–1 6-33 . Figure 6.Illustration of the least squares criterion.

The least squares fit for the example data. .5–2 6-34 More? See pages 394-398. Example 6. Figure 6.5-1.

but it does not indicate whether the answer is the exact solution.Some overdetermined systems have an exact solution. We need to check the ranks of A and [A b] to know whether the answer is the exact solution. 6-35 . The left-division method sometimes gives an answer for overdetermined systems.

To interpret MATLAB answers correctly for an overdetermined system. first check the ranks of A and [A b] to see whether an exact solution exists. if one does not exist. then you know that the left-division answer is a least squares solution. 6-36 .

(continued …) 6-37 . The matrix inverse method. 2. solve for x by typing x = inv(A)*b.Solving Linear Equations: Summary If the number of equations in the set equals the number of unknown variables. solve for x by typing x = A\b. The matrix left-division method. the matrix A is square and MATLAB provides two ways of solving the equation set Ax = b: 1.

which is given by the left-division method.Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) If A is square and if MATLAB does not generate an error message when you use one of these methods. then the set has a unique solution. You can always check the solution for x by typing A*x to see if the result is the same as b. (continued …) 6-38 .

the set is underdetermined. and either it does not have a solution or it has more than one solution. you must use the following procedures.Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) If you receive an error message. (continued …) 6-39 . In such a case. if you need more information.

This method uses the MATLAB function rref to obtain a solution.) 1. The matrix left-division method. The reduced row echelon form (RREF) method. (continued …) 6-40 . 3. solve for x by typing x = pinv(A)*b. The pseudoinverse method. solve for x by typing x = A\b. MATLAB provides three ways of dealing with the equation set Ax = b. 2.Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) For underdetermined and overdetermined sets. (Note that the matrix inverse method will never work with such sets.

Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) Underdetermined Systems In an underdetermined system not enough information is given to determine the values of all the unknown variables. An infinite number of solutions might exist in which one or more of the unknowns are dependent on the remaining unknowns. 6-41 (continued …) . For such systems Cramer’s method and the matrix inverse method will not work because either A is not square or because |A| = 0.

whose values are arbitrary. An infinite number of solutions might exist even when the number of equations equals the number of unknowns. The rref function can be used to find these relations. (continued …) 6-42 . The left-division method fails to give a solution in such cases. In cases that have an infinite number of solutions. some of the unknowns can be expressed in terms of the remaining unknowns. but this solution is not the general solution.Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) The left-division method will give a solution with some of the unknowns arbitrarily set equal to zero.

(continued …) 6-43 .Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) Overdetermined Systems An overdetermined system is a set of equations that has more independent equations than unknowns. Some overdetermined systems have exact solutions. For such a system Cramer’s method and the matrix inverse method will not work because the A matrix is not square. which can be obtained with the left-division method A\b.

Solving Linear Equations: Summary (continued) For overdetermined systems that have no exact solution. The first step is to check the ranks of A and [A b] to see whether a solution exists. if no solution exists. More? See pages 398-402. then we know that the left-division solution is a least squares answer. the program does not tell us whether the solution is exact. We must determine this information ourselves. 6-44 . When we use MATLAB to solve an overdetermined set. the answer given by the left-division method satisfies the equation set only in a least squares sense.

If the rank of A equals the rank of [A b]. which can be found from the augmented matrix. 3. Display the results and stop. then there are no solutions. Table 6. there is an infinite number of solutions. Otherwise (if the rank of A does not equal the rank of [A b]).6–2 1. Display the results and stop. Otherwise. 6-45 . If so. Display this message and stop. which can be computed using left division. then determine whether the rank of A equals the number of unknowns.Pseudocode for the linear equation solver. there is a unique solution. 2.

Flowchart of the linear equation solver. Figure 6.6–1 6-46 .

Size_A = size(A). disp(’There is a unique solution. Rank of A equals the number of unknowns. % Does the rank of A equal the number of unknowns? if rank(A) == size_A(2) % Yes.6–3 % Script file lineq. if rank(A) == rank([A b]) % The ranks are equal. 6-47 (continued…) .m % Solves the set Ax = b. given A and b.MATLAB program to solve linear equations. Table 6. which is:’) x = A\b % Solve using left division. % Check the ranks of A and [A b].

Linear equation solver (continued) else % Rank of A does not equal the number of unknowns. end else % The ranks of A and [A b] are not equal. disp(’There is an infinite number of solutions. disp(’There are no solutions.’) end 6-48 .’) disp(’The augmented matrix of the reduced system is:’) rref([A b]) % Compute the augmented matrix.

6-49 .The following slides contain figures from the chapter’s homework problems.

Figure P9 6-50 .

Figure P10 6-51 .

Figure P11 6-52 .

Figure P12 6-53 .

Figure P13 6-54 .

Figure P14 6-55 .

Figure P24 6-56 .

Figure P27 6-57 .

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