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Homework Help: Find the complete solution to Ax = b, b = (-1,0,1)

  1. May 20, 2015 #1


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    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Find the complete solution to Ax = b for b = (-1,0,1).

    2. Relevant equations
    Reduced-row echelon form procedure.
    Matrix multiplication procedure.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I have no idea what is being done in the solution attached (other than the reduced-row echelon and matrix multiplication procedures).

    If someone could help me understand what the attached solution is saying, I would very much appreciate it!

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2015 #2


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    Science Advisor

    The row reduction gives
    [tex]\begin{bmatrix}1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & b_1 \\ 0 & 1 & 2 & 3 & \frac{3}{2}b_1-\frac{1}{2}b_2 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -\frac{1}{4}b_1+ \frac{1}{2}b_2- \frac{1}{4}b_3 \end{bmatrix}[/tex].

    That last line is equivalent to
    [tex]0b_1+ 0b_2+ 0b_3= -\frac{1}{4}b_1+ \frac{1}{2}b_2- \frac{1}{4}b_3[/tex]
    The left side is clearly 0 for any [itex]b_1[/itex], [itex]b_2[/itex], [itex]b_3[/itex] so, in order for this equation to be true, the right side must also be 0: [itex]-\frac{1}{4}b_1+ \frac{1}{2}b_2- \frac{1}{4}b_3= 0[/itex]. Since we could choose any values for two of [itex]b_1[/itex], [itex]b_2[/itex], [itex]b_3[/itex] and solve that equation for the other, the solution set had dimension 2.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2015
  4. May 20, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    The left side shouldn't be in terms of b1, etc.

    The last line in the augmented matrix above represents ##0x_1 + 0x_2 + 0x_3 + 0x_4 = -\frac{1}{4}b_1+ \frac{1}{2}b_2- \frac{1}{4}b_3##
    As stated below, the left side is identically zero for any choices of ##x_1, x_2, x_3, x_4##, which means that the right side must be zero. Since we have one equation (##-\frac{1}{4}b_1+ \frac{1}{2}b_2- \frac{1}{4}b_3 = 0##) in three variables, two of the variables are arbitrary, which gives us a solution space of dimension 2.
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