You have probably encountered systems of linear equations before; you can probably remember solving systems of equations where you had three equations, three unknowns, and you tried to find the value of the unknowns. In this chapter we will uncover some of the fundamental principles guiding the solution to such problems.
Solving such systems was a bit time consuming, but not terribly difficult. So why bother? We bother because linear equations have many, many, many applications, from business to engineering to computer graphics to understanding more mathematics. And not only are there many applicaƟons of systems of linear equations, on most occasions where these systems arise we are using far more than three variables. (Engineering applications, for instance, often require thousands of variables.) So getting a good understanding of how to solve these systems effectively is important.
But don’t worry; we’ll start at the beginning.
Thumbnail: In three-dimensional Euclidean space, these three planes represent solutions of linear equations, and their intersection represents the set of common solutions: in this case, a unique point. The blue line is the common solution to two of these equations. (CC BY-SA 3.0; Alksentrs via Wikipedia)