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!

Linear algebra textbook?

  1. Apr 16, 2008 #1
    I'm taking a first course in linear algebra, and my textbook very bad and the professor cannot teach. I need another textbook to help me self-study for this course that I am taking right now. I looked around Amazon and found that Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction, by David Poole has good reviews, but they all seem biased. Has anyone used this textbook? Would you recommend it? Please recommend me some textbooks and study guide that are easy to self-study from.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2008 #2
    Axler's 'Linear Algebra Done Right' is good for an introduction.
  4. Apr 16, 2008 #3
    Isn't that for a "second course on linear algebra"? I am having trouble with the concepts and I find the subject to be too abstract and difficult to understand. This is my first exposure to math that is more abstract. My professor only writes formal mathematical definitions on the board in lecture and does not really explain them. The textbook I am using right now does not explain things clearly at all; all the ideas seem to be disconnected and not related to each other.
  5. Apr 17, 2008 #4
  6. Apr 17, 2008 #5
    If you're looking for a book for self-study, keep in mind that Linear Algebra Done Right by Axler doesn't have any solutions or hints to any problems in the back, so you're pretty much on your own and have no way of checking whether you understand the concepts or are on the right track for any of the problems. Axler really leaves you hanging.
  7. Apr 17, 2008 #6


    User Avatar

  8. Apr 17, 2008 #7
    I used Poole's book for my intro to Linear Algebra. I think it is probably one of the best required math texts I've had. In fact, it is one of the few I have actually held on to. However, if you already have a book I'd definitely consider something cheaper or maybe even sit in another teacher's section of the class.
  9. Apr 17, 2008 #8
    I don't mind buying another textbook if it is worth it. I am planning to sell my linear algebra textbook as soon as the course is over because the required text (Bretscher) is so bad. The problems are all right but the explanations are too concise and formal, and the examples are not didactic. How much different is the first edition of Poole's linear algebra compared to the second edition? I have had bad experiences with first editions of math texts (errors), but am thinking of buying the first edition to save $40.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2008
  10. Apr 17, 2008 #9
    I'm not too familiar with the 1st edition, but I saw a copy of it being sold at a used bookstore for $10. Before you buy from Amazon you should check out local bookstores first. I've found a lot of gems at used bookstores, including a copy of Spivak's Calculus. You may even find a better text than Poole's.
  11. Apr 17, 2008 #10
    i like Lays book.
  12. Apr 18, 2008 #11
    I used Strang's book for Linear Algebra and found it to be pretty decent. Very friendly, written in a conversational style, perfect for someone looking to understand basic principles of Linear Algebra. I don't recommend it, however, for someone looking for a rigorous text.
  13. Apr 18, 2008 #12
    Thanks for all the responses. I have already bought Poole's book for linear algebra. I am not looking for a rigorous text, but just need a text that actually explains the topic. I realized that my professor is actually teaching a course based off of a text called Matrix Analysis for Scientists and Engineers, a more advanced text that I am now using as a supplement. That explains why few people in the class understand much from his lectures. I hope that I am not missing out on anything important since the professor decided to teach this course in a non-traditional way.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
  14. Apr 19, 2008 #13
    Just look for linear algebra with applications texts. One I found good is the one by nicholson, 5th edition. There are tons of proofs, but you can ignore them.

    And yeah, I think axler would be overkill.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook