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Math Help - Determinants

  1. #1
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    Determinants

    How can I make something like determinants tangible? Are there real life examples where determinants are used?
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  2. #2
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    What do you mean by "real life"?
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  3. #3
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    Real life in the sense that the student will find motivating or likely to come across a particular example in physics, engineering, economics - really looking for a stimulating example. Thanks for the quick response.
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  4. #4
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    You can think of the vector cross product as a determinant. The vector cross product shows up in electricity and magnetism, in Maxwell's Equations, as well as other places.

    As a somewhat less spectacular example, you can think of Kramer's Rule for solving linear systems of equations. Kramer's Rule has more theoretical interest than practical, because computing determinants using, say, a Jacobian expansion is computationally intensive. For large problems, you'd probably try to diagonalize, or at least upper-triangularize (if that's a word) a matrix in order to compute its determinant as the product of the elements along the main diagonal.
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