What's the pattern here?

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

Alright so apparently there is some pattern in finding these determinants:

for the 2x2, the determinant of
|1 1|
|x y| is y - x

for 3x3, the determinant of

|1 1 1 |
|x y z |
|x^2, y^2, z^2| is xy^2 - yx^2 - xz^2 +zx^2 + yz^2 - zy^2

Apparently that can be factored (not sure how), and using the roots, there will be a pattern that you can observe for finding a determinant of a 4x4, 5x5, etc of the same form (1, x, x^2, x^3, etc.)

How do you factor the 3x3 determinant, and what is the pattern? Does the determinant vanish at some point?


Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Start with the 3x3 case. The pattern is that the determinant vanishes in the cases x=y, x=z and y=x. Do you see why? Each of those tells you a factor of the determinant.

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