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Determinant=0 and invertibility

by Jin314159
Tags: determinant0, invertibility
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Mar23-04, 05:14 AM
P: n/a
Can someone provide an intuitive understanding of why a matrix is not invertible when it's determinant is zero?
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matt grime
Mar23-04, 05:23 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 9,396
The determinant measures how the volume of the unit box changes. Unit box here means all the points

{(a,b,c...,d) | 0<= a,b, ..d <=1

Determinant zero means that it gets squished into smaller dimenisions:

eg, for 2x2, the unit square gets sent to a line segment, in 3x3 the unit cube gets sent to either a 2-d or 1-d figure

you can't undo these operations, because infinitely many points get sent to the same place.


|1 0|
|0 0|

sends all the points with the same y coordinate to the same place, and it squashes the unit square to the unit interval.

Is that ok? That's the geometry, we can talk algebraic reasons too.
Mar23-04, 09:21 AM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 39,497
A very good "intuitive reason" is that det(AB)= det(A)det(B).

If AB= I then det(A)det(B)= 1 not 0 so neither det(A) nor det(B) can be 0.

Mar23-04, 07:27 PM
P: n/a
Determinant=0 and invertibility

Thanks guys for both the geometric and algebraic intuition.
Apr2-04, 11:34 PM
P: 354
To find a inverse matrix, you must take 1/det. If your det is equal to zero, it is undifined.

Paden Roder

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