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!

To prove right inverse implies left inverse for square matrices.

  1. Oct 18, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Let A be a square matrix with right inverse B. To prove A has a left inverse C and that B = C.

    2. Relevant equations
    Matrix multiplication is asociative (AB)C=A(BC).
    A has a right inverse B such that AB = I

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I dont really know where to start, I mean, proving that if both B and C exist then B = C is not that hard, but I really cant get around proving one implies the other.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Try using the fact that B=BAB
  4. Oct 21, 2010 #3
    I am pretty sure that is not going to get you the answer.

    I believe you will be better off showing this lemma:

    Let A and B be nxn matrices such that AB=I,
    then (BA-I)b=0 for every b nx1 matrix (a vector)

    Then you can prove the result easily by considering the components of (BA-I) by clevorly choosing specific 'b's
  5. Jul 28, 2012 #4
    How does that follow? (Well, that is true, but you're missing some steps here :) But that is the right idea (kind of).

    First, you want to work of the definition of inverses: If B is the right inverse of A, then for every vector b, there is an x such that Ax = b (simply choose x = Bb). What does that tell you about the number of pivot columns for A?

    Then what does that tell you about A's relationship with I? Think back to Echelon reductions and elementary matrices.
  6. Jul 28, 2012 #5

    Ray Vickson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Can you prove the following? If a square matrix has a right inverse, then it also has a left inverse.

    If BA = I, then A is a right inverse of B. Let D be a left inverse of B and then do the obvious.

  7. Jul 28, 2012 #6
    What are you doing here? You can't just assume that BA = I, and you can't use the statement you are proving to prove that statement.

    The proof of the OP's problem will require specifics involving elementary matrices or something similar. That kind of detail is necessary; otherwise, one would be saying that in any algebraic group, the existence of a right inverse implies the existence of a left inverse, which is definitely not true.
  8. Jul 28, 2012 #7

    Ray Vickson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I never claimed that the left inverse of B was A---in fact, that is what we are trying to prove. I just claimed that a left inverse of B EXISTS, nothing more.

  9. Jul 28, 2012 #8
    Yes, but where did you get the fact that BA = I from? I don't believe that is something trivially true.
  10. Jul 28, 2012 #9

    Ray Vickson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I guess I interchanged A and B from the original question.

  11. Jul 28, 2012 #10
    Well, that does change the question quite a bit. As far as I know, the OP's question is not trivial in the sense that you can just move the matrices around and hope to get somewhere. You must delve deeper and understand what it means for a matrix to have inverses, and go on from there.
  12. Jul 28, 2012 #11
    This thread's almost 2 years old...
    Anyway, what about:

    AB = I
    CA = I

    C(AB) = CI
    (CA)B = C
    IB = C
    B = C
  13. Jul 28, 2012 #12
    You dont know there exists a C such that CA = I. That is the first part of the problem.
  14. Jul 28, 2012 #13
    I did a Google search on the first sentence in the OP; two of the results wrote the problem as follows (which I believe is the actual problem):
  15. Jul 28, 2012 #14
    Umm... there is no reason that the OP's question is incorrect. I believe the OP meant what s/he said. The question clearly says:

    Given that a square matrix A has right inverse B, show that that A has a left inverse C and that C = B.

    So, you can NOT assume that C exists. (Just because a Google search reveals variations of this problem doesn't mean that those variations are this problem.)
  16. Jul 28, 2012 #15

    Ray Vickson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It does not change anything at all: my A = your B and my B = your A. What we really have is that UV=I for two square matrices U and V (so V is a right inverse of U and U is a left inverse of V). We need to prove that U is also a right inverse of V (and V is a left inverse of U). I asked the OP: can you prove that if a matrix has a right inverse it also has a left inverse? (That was, in fact, part of the original question.) The OP could answer "yes", in which case my hint could be useful, or could answer "no", in which case my hint would be useless. So much depends on what the OP already knows and is allowed to use. For example, can he/she use the fact that the row and column ranks are equal? etc., etc.

  17. Jul 29, 2012 #16
    Well, that was my point - that one could not use your hint until they knew the answer to the existence of the left inverse, which is the harder part of the question.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: To prove right inverse implies left inverse for square matrices.