# 8.3. Gauss elimination. Introduction. Prerequisites. Learning Outcomes

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1 Gauss elimination 8.3 Introduction Engineers often need to solve large systems of linear equations; for example in determining the forces in a large framework or finding currents in a complicated electrical circuit. The method of Gauss elimination provides a systematic approach to their solution. Prerequisites Before starting this Section you should... Learning Outcomes After completing this Section you should be able to... 1 be familiar with matrix algebra know the row operations which allow the reduction of a system of linear equations to upper triangular form Use back-substitution to solve a system of equations in echelon form understand and use the method of Gauss elimination to solve a system of three simultaneous linear equations

2 1. Solving three equations in three unknowns The easiest set of three simultaneous linear equations to solve is of the type following: 3x 1 = 6, 2x 2 = 5, 4x 3 = 7 which obviously has solution {x 1,x 2,x 3 } = { 2, 5 2, 7 4} or x1 =2,x 2 = 5 2,x 3 = 7 4. In matrix form AX = B the equations are x 1 x 2 x 3 = where the matrix of coefficients, A, is clearly diagonal Solve the equations x 1 x 2 x 3 = {x 1,x 2,x 3 } = {4, 2, 2}. The next easiest system of equations to solve is of the following kind: 3x 1 + x 2 x 3 = 0 2x 2 + x 3 = 12 3x 3 = 6. The last equation can be solved immediately to give x 3 =2. Substituting this value of x 3 into the second equation gives 2x 2 + 2=12 from which 2x 2 =10 so that x 2 =5 Substituting these values of x 2 and x 3 into the first equation gives 3x =0 from which 3x 1 = 3 so that x 1 = 1 Hence the solution is {x 1,x 2,x 3 } = { 1, 5, 2}. This process of solution is called back-substitution. In matrix form the system of equations is HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1 2

3 x 1 x 2 x 3 = The matrix of coefficients is said to be upper triangular because all elements below the leading diagonal are zero. Any system of equations in which the coefficient matrix is triangular (whether upper or lower) will be particularly easy to solve Solve the following system of equations by back-substitution x x 2 = x 3 2 Write the equations in expanded form. 2x 1 x 2 +3x 3 = 7 3x 2 x 3 = 5 2x 3 = 2 Now complete the solution. x 3 = In expanded form the equations are Using this value, obtain x 2 and x 3. x 2 = x 1 = The last equation can be solved immediately to give x 3 =1. x 2 =2, x 1 =3 Although we have worked so far with integers this will not always be the case and fractions will enter the solution process. We must then take care and it is always wise to check that the equations balance using the calculated solution. 3 HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1

4 2. The general system of three simultaneous linear equations In the previous section we met systems of equations which could be solved by back-substitution alone. In this section we meet systems which are not so friendly and where preliminary work must be done before back-substitution can be used. Consider the system x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 = 14 2x 1 x 2 3x 3 = 3 4x 1 +5x 2 x 3 = 7 The solution method known as Gauss elimination has two stages. In the first stage the equations are replaced by a system of equations having the same solution but which are in triangular form. In the second stage the new system is solved by back-substitution. The first step is to write the equations in matrix form. This gives: x x 2 = x 3 7 Then for conciseness we combine the matrix of coefficients with the column vector of right-hand sides to produce the augmented matrix If the general system of equations is written then the augmented matrix is written Hence the first equation is replaced by the first row AX = B [A B]. x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 = of the augmented matrix, and so on. Stage 1 is now accomplished by means of row operations. There are three possible operations: i. interchange two rows; ii. multiply or divide a row by a non-zero constant factor; iii. add to, or subtract from, one row a multiple of another row. Note that interchanging two rows of the augmented matrix is equivalent to interchanging the two corresponding equations. The shorthand notation we use is introduced by example. To interchange row 1 and row 3 we write R1 R3. To divide row 2 by 5 we write R2 5. To add three times row 1 to row 2, we write R2+3R1. HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1 4

5 In the example which follows you will see where these annotations are placed. Note that these operations neither create nor destroy solutions so that at every step the system of equations has the same solution as the original system. Stage 1 proceeds by first eliminating x 1 from the second and third equations using row operations R2 2 R1 R3 4 R In the above we have subtracted twice row (equation) 1 from row (equation) 2. In full these operations would be written, respectively, as or and or (2x 1 x 2 3x 3 ) 2(x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 )= x 2 13x 3 = 25 (4x 1 +5x 2 x 3 ) 4(x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 )= x 2 21x 3 = 49. You should practise this process by obtaining the other coefficients in new rows 2 and 3 of the augmented matrix. Now since all the elements in rows 2 and 3 are negative we multiply throughout by 1 toproduce (In extended form we have R2 ( 1) R3 ( 1) x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 = 14 7x 2 +13x 3 = 25 7x 3 +21x 2 = Notice that the first equation remains unaltered). Finally, we eliminate x 3 from the third equation by subtracting equation 2 from equation 3 i.e. R3 R The system is now in triangular form. R3 R Now complete the solution by back-substitution. 5 HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1

6 From the last equation we see that x 3 =3. x 1 +3x 2 +5x 3 = 14 7x 2 +13x 3 = 25 8x 3 = 24 Substituting this value into the second equation gives 7x 2 +39=25 or 7x 2 = 14 so that x 2 = 2. Finally, using these values for x 2 and x 3 in equation 1 gives x = 14. Hence x 1 =5 and {x 1,x 2,x 3 } = {5, 2, 3} Check that these values satisfy the original system of equations. In full the equations are We work through a second example. 2x 1 3x 2 +4x 3 = 2 4x 1 + x 2 +2x 3 = 2 x 1 x 2 +3x 3 = 3 Write down the augmented matrix for this system and then interchange rows 1 and R1 R The augmented matrix is Now subtract suitable multiples of row 1 from row 2 and from row 3 to eliminate the x 1 coefficient from these rows. HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1 6

7 R2 4R1 R3 2R1 Now divide row 2 by 5 and add a suitable multiple of the result to row Now complete the solution using back-substitution. R3+R x 3 = 6. The solution is therefore {x 1,x 2,x 3 } = { 1 2, 1, 3 2}. The last equation reduces to x 3 = 3. Using this value in the second equation gives x 2 2 3= 2 so that x 2 =1. Finally, x =3so that x 2 1 = 1. 2 x 2 2x 3 = 2 x 1 x 2 +3x 3 = 3 The equations in full are You should check these values in the original equations to ensure that they balance exactly. Again we emphasise that we chose a particular route in Stage 1. This was chosen mainly to delay the introduction of fractions. Sometimes we are courageous and take a route with fewer steps. An important point to note is that when in Stage 1 we wrote R2 4 R1; what we meant is that row 2 is replaced by the combination row 2 4 row 1. 7 HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1

8 In general, the operation row i α row j means replace row i by the combination rowi α row j and the operation must be performed that way round. 3. Equations which have an infinite number of solutions Consider the following system of equations In augmented form we have: x 1 + x 2 3x 3 = 3 2x 1 3x 2 +4x 3 = 4 x 1 x 2 + x 3 = Now performing the usual Gaussian elimination operations we have R2 2 R R3 R Now divide row 2 by 5 and row 3 by 2 togive: and the subtracting row 2 from row 3 gives We see that all the elements in the last row are zero. This essentially implies that the variable x 3 can take any value whatsoever, so let x 3 = t then using back substitution the second row now implies x 2 =2+2x 3 =2+2t and then the first row implies x 1 =3 x 2 +3x 3 =3 (2+2t)+3(t) =1+t In this example the system of equations has an infinite number of solutions: x 1 =1+t, x 2 =2+2t, x 3 = t HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1 8

9 where t can be assigned any value. For every value of t these expressions for x 1,x 2 and x 3 will simultaneously satisfy each of the three given equations. Systems of linear equations in more than one unknown arise in the modelling of electrical circuits or networks. By breaking down a complicated system into simple loops Kirchoff s Laws can be applied. This leads to a set of linear equations in the unknown quantities (usually currents) which can easily be solved by one of the methods described in this Workbook. Example In the circuit shown find the currents (i 1,i 2 )inthe loops. 3v 6Ω 5Ω 3Ω i 1 4v i 2 Solution We note that the current across the 3Ω resistor (top to bottom in the diagram) is given by (i 1 i 2 ). With this proviso we can apply Kirchoff s Law: In the left-hand loop 3(i 1 i 2 )+5i 1 =3 8i 1 3i 2 =3 In the right-hand loop 3(i 2 i 1 )+6i 2 =4 3i 1 +9i 2 =4 In matrix form: [ ][ i1 i 2 ] = [ ] 3 4 Solving either by using the matrix inverse approach or by Cramer s Rule gives i 1 = i 2 = Example In the circuit shown find the currents (i 1,i 2,i 3 )inthe loops. 4v 2Ω 3Ω 5v i 1 6Ω i 2 6v i 3 4Ω 9 HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1

10 Solution Loop 1 gives 2(i 1 )+3(i 1 i 2 )=5 5i 1 3i 2 =5 Loop 2 gives 6(i 2 i 3 )+3(i 2 i 1 )=4 3i 1 +9i 2 6i 3 =4 Loop 3 gives 6(i 3 i 2 )+4(i 3 )=6 5 6i 2 +10i 3 =1 Note in loop 3, the current generated by the 6v cell is positive and for the 5v cell negative in the direction of the arrow. In matrix form i 1 i 2 i 3 5 = 4 1 Again solving using one of the methods outlined in this Workbook gives i 1 = i 2 = 19 9 i 3 = Example The upward velocity of a rocket, measured at 3 different times, is shown in the following table Time, t Velocity, v (seconds) (metres/second) The velocity over the time interval 5 t 12 is approximated by a quadratic expression as v(t) =a 1 t 2 + a 2 t + a 3 Find the values of a 1,a 2 and a 3. HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1 10

11 Solution Substituting the values into the quadratic relation gives: =25a 1 +5a 2 + a a =64a 1 +8a 2 + a 3 or a 2 = =144a 1 +12a 2 + a a Applying one of the methods from this workbook gives the solution as a 1 = a 2 = a 3 = to 4d.p. As the original values were all observed then the values of the unknowns are all approximations. The relation v(t) =0.2905t t can now be used to predict the approximate position of the rocket for any time within the interval 5 t 12. Solve the following using Gauss elimination: Exercises (a) 2x 1 + x 2 x 3 = 0 x 1 + x 3 = 4 x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 0 (b) x 1 x 2 + x 3 = 1 x 1 + x 3 = 1 x 1 + x 2 x 3 = 0 (c) x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 2 2x 1 + 3x 2 + 4x 3 = 3 x 1 2x 2 x 3 = 1 (d) You may need to think carefully about the system (d). x 1 2x 2 3x 3 = 1 3x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 4 11x 1 x 2 3x 3 = 10 Answers (a) x 1 = 8 3,x 2 = 4, x 3 = 4 3 (b) x 1 = 1 2,x 2 =1,x 3 = 3 2 (c) x 1 =2,x 2 =1,x 3 = 1 (d) infinite number of solutions: x 1 = t, x 2 =11 10t, x 3 =7t 7 11 HELM (VERSION 1: March 18, 2004): Workbook Level 1

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