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Author IC

University of Aberdeen Date 4.10.04


Department of Mathematical Sciences Code 203-105273-0

EG1006 Engineering Mathematics 1


Algebra Sheet 3: Determinants

It can often be easier to calculate a determinant indirectly. This sheet gives some examples.
We will meet column operations a lot when calculating inverses of matrices.

1. Evaluate the following, showing that the answers are, in order, 2, 86, 0 and 27.

1 2 1 6
, 6 8 , 1 1 ,
3 4 7 5 2 2 5 3 .

2. Evaluate the following determinants, showing that the answers are, in order, 1, 7 and 12.

1 0 1 1 2 1 1 1 3

0 1 0 , 0 1 3 , 4 2 1 .

1 0 2 1 0 2 2 0 1

3. (a) Find the determinant of the matrix



1 0 1 0
1 2 0 1
A=
2
.
0 1 2
1 2 2 1

(b) Now perform row operations on the matrix A until you get an upper triangular matrix.
What is the determinant of this upper triangular matrix? Use this to find the determinant
of matrix A (again).

4. By using row and/or column operations in a suitable way, show that



a b c 2a 2a

2b bca 2b = (a + b + c)3 .

2c 2c c a b

Dont just multiply out both sides; that spoils the point of the exercise.

5. Find the the values of for which



2 1
= 0.
2 1
Algebra Sheet 3: Determinants 4.10.04 page 2

6. Solve the equation



1 2 2

2 1 2 = 0.

2 2 1

7. Solve the equation



x 1 1 1

1 x 1 1
= 0.
1 1 x 1

1 1 1 x

8. Evaluate (x y)(x2 + xy + y 2 ) and simplify your answer. By using column operations, show
that

1 1 1

x y z = k(x y)(y z)(z x)(x + y + z)

x3 y 3 z 3

where k is a constant that you should find.


Author IC
University of Aberdeen Date 4.10.04
Department of Mathematical Sciences Code 203-105274-7

EG1006 Engineering Mathematics 1


Solutions to Algebra Sheet 3: Determinants

3. (a) Using cofactors and expanding along the appropriate rows (ie: whichever are easiest!)
gives the determinant 8.
(b) The resulting upper triangular matrix is

1 0 1 0
0 2 1 1
.
0 0 1 2
0 0 0 4

Note that it is possible to arrive at this answer without row swaps or multiplying rows by
constants. The determinant is the product of the diagonal entries, and hence is equal to 8
and this is also the determinant of the original matrix.

4. The trick is to start by adding the second and third rows to the first one. This gives

a + b + c a + b + c a + b + c 1 1 1

2b b c a 2b = (a + b + c) 2b b c a 2b .

2c 2c cab 2c 2c c a b

Now do C2 C2 C1 and C3 C3 C1 .

5. Multiplying out the determinant we get the quadratic

2 3 = 0, so = 0, 3.

6. The solutions are = 5 or = 1 (as a double root). [You will meet many questions like
this in the second your course.]

7. Working out the determinant first using row operations,



x 1 1 1 0 1 x 1 x 1 x2
1 x 1 x 1 x2
1 x 1 1 0 x 1 0 1x
= x 1 1 x
1 1 x 1 = 0 0 x1 1x 0
0 x1 1x
1 1 1 x 1 1 1 x

1 x 1 x 1 x2
1 x 2 x x2
= 0 1 x 2 x x = (1 x)
2
0 x1 1x
x1 1x
= (1 x)[(1 x)2 (x 1)(2 x x2 )]
= (1 x)2 (3 2x x2 ) = (1 x)3 (3 + x).

Thus the solutions to the equation are x = 1, repeated three times, and x = 3.
Algebra Sheet 3: Determinants 4.10.04 page 2

8. We have

(x y)(x2 + xy + y 2 ) = x3 yx2 + x2 y xy 2 + xy 2 y 3 = x3 y 3 .

We first subtract the last column from the remaining two:



1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0

x y z = x yx
z x = (y x)(z x) x 1 1 .

x3 y 3 z 3 x3 y 3 x3 z 3 x3 x3 y 2 + xy + x2 z 2 + zx + x2

Now subtract the second column form the third,



1 0 0


= (y x)(z x) x 1 0 ,

x3 y 2 + xy + x2 z 2 y 2 + zx xy

1 0 0

= (y x)(z x)(z y) x 1 0 ,

x3 y 2 + xy + x2 z + y + x
= (y x)(z x)(z y)(x + y + z).

Thus k = 1.