The purpose of this text is to present the contemporary theory and applications of linear algebra to university students studying mathematics, engineering, or applied science at the postcalculus level. Because linear algebra is usually encountered between basic problem solving courses such as calculus or differential equations and more advanced courses that require students to cope with mathematical rigors, the challenge in teaching applied linear algebra is to expose some of the scaffolding while conditioning students to appreciate the utility and beauty of the subject. Effectively meeting this challenge and bridging the inherent gaps between basic and more advanced mathematics are primary goals of this book.
Rigor and Formalism:
To reveal portions of the scaffolding, narratives, examples, and summaries are used in place of the formal definition-theorem-proof development. But while well-chosen examples can be more effective in promoting understanding than rigorous proofs, and while precious classroom minutes cannot be squandered on theoretical details, I believe that all scientifically oriented students should be exposed to some degree of mathematical thought, logic, and rigor. And if logic and rigor are to reside anywhere, they have to be in the textbook. So even when logic and rigor are not the primary thrust, they are always available. Formal definition-theorem-proof designations are not used, but definitions, theorems, and proofs nevertheless exist, and they become evident as a student's maturity increases. A significant effort is made to present a linear development that avoids forward references, circular arguments, and dependence on prior knowledge of the subject. This results in some inefficiencies-e.g., the matrix 2-norm is presented before eigenvalues or singular values are thoroughly discussed. To compensate, I try to provide enough "wiggle room" so that an instructor can temper the inefficiencies by tailoring the approach to the students' prior background. |