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Trying to Pick a Linear Algebra Book

  1. Apr 5, 2010 #1
    I'm in an abstract linear algebra course right now, and the prof has explicitly stated that we are allowed to have a supplementary text for practice, but most of the HW would be written by him. With that said, I am trying to pick one of the 3 following:

    An international edition of Linear Algebra, by Friedberg, Insel, Spence, 4th Ed.

    Linear Algebra by Georgi E. Shilov

    Linear Algebra Done Right by Sheldon Axler.

    I realize that the pitfalls of one book could be accomodated for by referring to a different book, but if you had to pick one of the three, which would it be?

    The cheapest I can find the Axler book for is $28. I could get both the int'l ed. of Friedberg along with the Shilov book for $30 though. Thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2010 #2
    See if the library has any linear algebra textbooks that you could check out for free.
  4. Apr 6, 2010 #3
    Though I actually really like the Axler book, I want to give a quick word of warning. It is fairly likely that your professor will develop linear algebra in a manner completely differently than Axler does. This means that something that was introduced towards the beginning of your class, could easily depend on most of a semesters worth of material in Axler's book (e.g. Determinants). Axler's approach was designed so that you could build up to a lot of the most important theorems in linear algebra without some of the "messiness" that is introduced by determinants, so it may very well give you a clearer picture of what is actually going on, and why some proofs work.

    For more information about Axler's book, this paper http://www.axler.net/DwD.html explains his approach.
  5. Apr 6, 2010 #4


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    I wouldn't worry about the determinants showing up later in Axler's book. If you need to study determinants earlier, you can skip ahead to that chapter in Axler, read your professor's notes, or read the relevant pages of another book online, e.g. at Google books. (The class I took used the 6th edition of Anton, but I recently used Axler to refresh my memory and I thought it was much better).

    Note that there are lots of threads like this one, so you could check them out too.
  6. Apr 30, 2010 #5
    I'd go for Shilov, but it's much more terse than the alternatives. Friedberg's is the "friendliest", but Shilov has the most material and has the "friendliest" price. Axler is very good as well.
  7. Apr 30, 2010 #6
    I like Shilov but it is not the easiest if you are just starting out.

    There is also the free Hefferon book:

    It is quite good and comes with an answer key.

    BTW, there are other Linear algebra threads around with good book suggestions.
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