# 8.3. Solution by Gauss Elimination. Introduction. Prerequisites. Learning Outcomes

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1 Solution by 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 On completion you should be able to... be familiar with matrix algebra identify 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 22 HELM (2008):

2 1. Solving three equations in three unknowns The easiest set of three simultaneous linear equations to solve is of the following type: 3x 1 = 6, 2x 2 = 5, 4x 3 = 7 which obviously has solution [x 1, x 2, x 3 ] T = [ 2, 5, 7 T 2 4] or x1 = 2, x 2 = 5, x 2 3 = 7. 4 In matrix form AX = B the equations are x x 2 = x 3 7 where the matrix of coefficients, A, is clearly diagonal. Task Solve the equations x 1 x 2 x 3 = [x 1, x 2, x 3 ] T = [4, 2, 2] T. 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 = 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 ] T = [ 1, 5, 2] T. This process of solution is called back-substitution. In matrix form the system of equations is x 1 x 2 x 3 = HELM (2008): Section 8.3: Solution by Gauss Elimination 23

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. Task 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 find the solution for x 3 : x 3 = The last equation can be solved immediately to give x 3 = 1. Using this value for x 3, obtain x 2 and x 1 : x 2 = x 1 = x 2 = 2, x 1 = 3. Therefore the solution is x 1 = 3, x 2 = 2 and x 3 = 1. 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. 24 HELM (2008):

4 2. The general system of three simultaneous linear equations In the previous subsection we met systems of equations which could be solved by back-substitution alone. In this Section we meet systems which are not so amenable 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 We will use the solution method known as Gauss elimination, which has three stages. In the first stage the equations are written in matrix form. In the second stage the matrix equations are replaced by a system of equations having the same solution but which are in triangular form. In the final stage the new system is solved by back-substitution. Stage 1: Matrix Formulation The first step is to write the equations in matrix form: 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 AX = B then the augmented matrix is written [A B]. Hence the first equation x 1 + 3x 2 + 5x 3 = 14 is replaced by the first row of the augmented matrix, and so on. Stage 1 has now been completed. We will next triangularise the matrix of coefficients by means of row operations. There are three possible row operations: interchange two rows; multiply or divide a row by a non-zero constant factor; 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. In the Task 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. HELM (2008): Section 8.3: Solution by Gauss Elimination 25

5 Stage 2: Triangularisation The second stage proceeds by first eliminating x 1 from the second and third equations using row operations R2 2 R 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 and (2x 1 x 2 3x 3 ) 2(x 1 + 3x 2 + 5x 3 ) = or 7x 2 13x 3 = 25 (4x 1 + 5x 2 x 3 ) 4(x 1 + 3x 2 + 5x 3 ) = or 7x 2 21x 3 = 49. Now since all the elements in rows 2 and 3 are negative we multiply throughout by 1: R2 ( 1) R3 ( 1) Finally, we eliminate x 2 from the third equation by subtracting equation 2 from equation 3 i.e. R3 R2: R3 R The system is now in triangular form. Stage 3: Back Substitution Here we solve the equations from bottom to top. At each step of the back substitution process we encounter equations which only have a single unknown and so can be easily solved. Task Now complete the solution to the above system by back-substitution. 26 HELM (2008):

6 In full the equations are x 1 + 3x 2 + 5x 3 = 14 7x x 3 = 25 8x 3 = 24 From the last equation we see that x 3 = 3. Substituting this value into the second equation gives 7x = 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. The solution is therefore [x 1, x 2, x 3 ] T = [5, 2, 3] T Check that these values satisfy the original system of equations. Task Solve 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 3: Augmented matrix R1 R Now subtract suitable multiples of row 1 from row 2 and from row 3 to eliminate the x 1 coefficient from rows 2 and 3: R2 4R1 R3 2R HELM (2008): Section 8.3: Solution by Gauss Elimination 27

7 Now divide row 2 by 5 and add a suitable multiple of the result to row 3: R R3 + R Now complete the solution using back-substitution: The equations in full are x 1 x 2 + 3x 3 = 3 x 2 2x 3 = 2 4x 3 = 6. The last equation reduces to x 3 = 3 2. Using this value in the second equation gives x 2 3 = 2 so that x 2 = 1. Finally, x = 3 so that x 1 = 1 2. The solution is therefore [x 1, x 2, x 3 ] T = [ 1 2, 1, 3 2] T. You should check these values in the original equations to ensure that the equations balance. Again we emphasise that we chose a particular set of procedures in Stage 1. This was chosen mainly to keep the arithmetic simple by delaying the introduction of fractions. Sometimes we are courageous and take fewer, harder steps. An important point to note is that when in Stage 2 we wrote R2 2R1 against row 2; what we meant is that row 2 is replaced by the combination (row 2) 2 (row 1). In general, the operation row i α row j means replace row i by the combination row i α row j. 28 HELM (2008):

8 3. Equations which have an infinite number of solutions Consider the following system of equations x 1 + x 2 3x 3 = 3 2x 1 3x 2 + 4x 3 = 4 x 1 x 2 + x 3 = 1 In augmented form we have: Now performing the usual Gauss elimination operations we have R2 2 R R3 R Now applying R2 5 and R3 2 gives Then R2 R3 gives We see that all the elements in the last row are zero. This means 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 or [x 1, x 2, x 3 ] T = [1 + t, 2 + 2t, t] T 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 arise in the modelling of electrical circuits or networks. By breaking down a complicated system into simple loops, Kirchhoff s law 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. HELM (2008): Section 8.3: Solution by Gauss Elimination 29

9 Engineering Example 3 Currents in three loops In the circuit shown find the currents (i 1, i 2, i 3 ) in the loops. 4v 2Ω 3Ω 5v i 1 6Ω i 2 6v i 3 4Ω Figure 2 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 i 3 = 1 Note that 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 Solving gives i 1 i 2 i 3 5 = 4 1 i 1 = 34 15, i 2 = 19 9, i 3 = HELM (2008):

10 Engineering Example 4 Velocity of a rocket 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. Solution Substituting the values from the table into the quadratic equation for v(t) gives: = 25a 1 + 5a 2 + a a = 64a 1 + 8a 2 + a 3 or a 2 = = 144a a 2 + a a Applying one of the methods from this Workbook gives the solution as a 1 = a 2 = a 3 = to 4 d.p. As the original values were all experimental observations then the values of the unknowns are all approximations. The relation v(t) = t t can now be used to predict the approximate position of the rocket for any time within the interval 5 t 12. HELM (2008): Section 8.3: Solution by Gauss Elimination 31

11 Solve the following using Gauss elimination: x 1 + x 2 x 3 = 0 x 1 + x 3 = 4 x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 0 x 1 x 2 + x 3 = 1 x 1 + x 3 = 1 x 1 + x 2 x 3 = 0 x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 2 2x 1 + 3x 2 + 4x 3 = 3 x 1 2x 2 x 3 = 1 x 1 2x 2 3x 3 = 1 3x 1 + x 2 + x 3 = 4 11x 1 x 2 3x 3 = 10 Exercises You may need to think carefully about this system. s (1) x 1 = 8 3, x 2 = 4, x 3 = 4 3 (2) x 1 = 1 2, x 2 = 1, x 3 = 3 2 (3) x 1 = 2, x 2 = 1, x 3 = 1 (4) infinite number of solutions: x 1 = t, x 2 = 11 10t, x 3 = 7t 7 32 HELM (2008):

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