1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Eigenvalue and Eigenvector

  1. Sep 8, 2003 #1
    can any one explain the the real meaning and purpose of eigen vlaue and eigen vectors..

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You know how easy it is to work with diagonal matrices, right?

    Consider the fact that (nearly) every square matrix can, after a suitable change of basis, be written as a diagonal matrix whose entries are simply its eigenvalues.

    So in one sense, using eigenvalues and eigenvectors lets you treat (nearly) any matrix similarly to a diagonal matrix, making the work easier.
  4. Sep 8, 2003 #3
    This works providing the matrix has unique eigenvalues, right? Do we need a full set of linearly independent eigenvectors?
  5. Sep 8, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Actually, in order for a matrix to be diagonalizable, it is NOT necessary that all the eigenvalues be unique. It IS necessary that all the eigenvectors be independent- that is that there exist a basis for the vector space consisting of eigenvectors.
    Essentially, the eigenvectors are those vectors on which the linear tranformation acts like simple scalar multiplication.
  6. Sep 8, 2003 #5
    If you have some square matrix then a non-zero vector x in R^n is an eigenvector of A if Ax is a scalar multiple of x. This scalar is called an eigenvalue of A.

    Q) So if you have some vector then scalar multiples of it only 'stretches' or 'compresses' it by a factor of your eigenvalue? Explain. And how can we use determinants in finding eigenvalues of a given matrix?

    (off-topic) Has this got anything to do with the Kronecker Delta in Tensor Calculus?
  7. Sep 8, 2003 #6

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, it does.

    When calculating the eigenvalues {λn} of a matrix A, you have to solve the equation:


    If we rewrite that in terms of matrix elements (IOW, with indices) we can write:


    the identity matrix Iij is none other than the Kronecker delta, δij.
  8. Sep 9, 2003 #7
    finding eigen vector for the matrix A, will it give the orthogonal quantity of the matrix..
  9. Jan 29, 2005 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    an n by n matrix M is diagonalizable if and only if the space R^n has a basis of eigenvectors of M, if and only if the minimal polynomial P of M consists of a product of different linear factors, if and only if the characteristic polynomial Q splits into a product of linear factors, and for each root c of Q, the kernel of M-cId has dimension equal to the power with which the factor (X-c) occurs in Q.

    see http://www.math.uga.edu/~roy/
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook