# 8.1 Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination

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1 Chapter 8 Systems of Equations 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination Up until now, when we concerned ourselves with solving different types of equations there was only one equation to solve at a time. Given an equation f() =g(), we could check our solutions geometrically by finding where the graphs of y = f() and y = g() intersect. The -coordinates of these intersection points correspond to the solutions to the equation f() = g(), and the y- coordinates were largely ignored. If we modify the problem and ask for the intersection points of the graphs of y = f() and y = g(), where both the solution to and y are of interest, we have what is known as a system of equations, usually written as y = f() y = g() The curly bracket notation means we are to find all pairs of points (, y) which satisfy both equations. We begin our study of systems of equations by reviewing some basic notions from Intermediate Algebra. Definition 8.. A linear equation in two variables is an equation of the form a +a 2 y = c where a, a 2 and c are real numbers and at least one of a and a 2 is nonzero. For reasons which will become clear later in the section, we are using subscripts in Definition 8. to indicate different, but fied, real numbers and those subscripts have no mathematical meaning beyond that. For eample, y 2 =0. is a linear equation in two variables with a =,a 2 = 2 and c =0.. We can also consider = 5 to be a linear equation in two variables by identifying a =,a 2 = 0, and c =5. If a and a 2 are both 0, then depending on c, we get either an Critics may argue that = 5 is clearly an equation in one variable. It can also be considered an equation in 7 variables with the coefficients of 6 variables set to 0. As with many conventions in Mathematics, the contet will clarify the situation.

2 400 Systems of Equations equation which is always true, called an identity, or an equation which is never true, called a contradiction. (If c = 0, then we get 0 = 0, which is always true. If c 0, then we d have 0 0, which is never true.) Even though identities and contradictions have a large role to play in the upcoming sections, we do not consider them linear equations. The key to identifying linear equations is to note that the variables involved are to the first power and that the coefficients of the variables are numbers. Some eamples of equations which are non-linear are 2 +y =,y = 5 and e 2 + ln(y) =. We leave it to the reader to eplain why these do not satisfy Definition 8.. From what we know from Sections.2 and., the graphs of linear equations are lines. If we couple two or more linear equations together, in effect to find the points of intersection of two or more lines, we obtain a system of linear equations in two variables. Our first eample reviews some of the basic techniques first learned in Intermediate Algebra. Eample 8... Solve the following systems of equations. Check your answer algebraically and graphically.. 2. Solution. 2 y = y = +4y = 2 y = y 5 = y = 2 2 4y = 6 6y = y = y = 2 y = 0 + y = y = 2. Our first system is nearly solved for us. The second equation tells us that y =. To find the corresponding value of, we substitute this value for y into the the first equation to obtain 2 =, so that = 2. Our solution to the system is (2, ). To check this algebraically, we substitute = 2 and y = into each equation and see that they are satisfied. We see 2(2) =, and =, as required. To check our answer graphically, we graph the lines 2 y = and y = and verify that they intersect at (2, ). 2. To solve the second system, we use the addition method to eliminate the variable. We take the two equations as given and add equals to equals to obtain +4y = 2 + ( y = 5) y = This gives us y =. We now substitute y = into either of the two equations, say y =5, to get = 5 so that = 2. Our solution is ( 2, ). Substituting = 2 and y =

3 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 40 into the first equation gives ( 2) + 4() = 2, which is true, and, likewise, when we check ( 2, ) in the second equation, we get ( 2) = 5, which is also true. Geometrically, the lines +4y = 2 and y = 5 intersect at ( 2, ). 4 y 2 y 2 (2, ) ( 2, ) y = y = +4y = 2 y =5. The equations in the third system are more approachable if we clear denominators. We multiply both sides of the first equation by 5 and both sides of the second equation by 8 to obtain the kinder, gentler system 5 2y = y = 9 Adding these two equations directly fails to eliminate either of the variables, but we note that if we multiply the first equation by 4 and the second by 5, we will be in a position to eliminate the term 20 48y = 84 + ( 20 0y = 45) 78y = 9 From this we get y = 2. We can temporarily avoid too much unpleasantness by choosing to substitute y = 2 into one of the equivalent equations we found by clearing denominators, say into 5 2y = 2. We get = 2 which gives =. Our answer is (, 2). At this point, we have no choice in order to check an answer algebraically, we must see if the answer satisfies both of the original equations, so we substitute = and y = 2 into both 4y 5 = 7 5 and y = 2. We leave it to the reader to verify that the solution is correct. Graphing both of the lines involved with considerable care yields an intersection point of (, 2).

4 402 Systems of Equations 4. An eerie calm settles over us as we cautiously approach our fourth system. Do its friendly integer coefficients belie something more sinister? We note that if we multiply both sides of the first equation by and the both sides of the second equation by 2, we are ready to eliminate the 6 2y = 8 + ( 6 +2y = 8) 0 = 0 We eliminated not only the, but the y as well and we are left with the identity 0 = 0. This means that these two different linear equations are, in fact, equivalent. In other words, if an ordered pair (, y) satisfies the equation 2 4y = 6, itautomatically satisfies the equation 6y = 9. One way to describe the solution set to this system is to use the roster method 2 and write {(, y) :2 4y =6}. While this is correct (and corresponds eactly to what s happening graphically, as we shall see shortly), we take this opportunity to introduce the notion of a parametric solution. Our first step is to solve 2 4y = 6 for one of the variables, say y = 2 2. For each value of, the formula y = 2 2 determines the corresponding y-value of a solution. Since we have no restriction on, it is called a free variable. We let = t, a so-called parameter, and get y = 2 t 2. Our set of solutions can then be described as {( t, 2 t } 2) : <t<. For specific values of t, we can generate solutions. For eample, t = 0 gives us the solution ( 0, 2) ; t = 7 gives us (7, 57), and while we can readily check each of these particular solutions satisfy both equations, the question is how do we check our general answer algebraically? Same as always. We claim that for any real number t, the pair ( t, 2 t 2) satisfies both equations. Substituting = t and y = 2 t 2 into 2 4y = 6 gives 2t 4 ( 2 t 2) = 6. Simplifying, we get 2t 2t+6 = 6, which is always true. Similarly, when we make these substitutions in the equation 6y =9,we get t 6 ( 2 t 2) = 9 which reduces to t t + 9 = 9, so it checks out, too. Geometrically, 2 4y = 6 and 6y = 9 are the same line, which means that they intersect at every point on their graphs. The reader is encouraged to think about how our parametric solution says eactly that. 2 See Section.2 for a review of this. Note that we could have just as easily chosen to solve 2 4y = 6 for to obtain =2y +. Letting y be the parameter t, we have that for any value of t, =2t +, which gives {(2t +,t): <t< }. There is no one correct way to parameterize the solution set, which is why it is always best to check your answer.

5 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 40 y 2 y , y 5 = y = 2 2 4y =6 6y =9 (Same line.) 5. Multiplying both sides of the first equation by 2 and the both sides of the second equation by, we set the stage to eliminate 2 +6y = 8 + ( 2 6y = 6) 0 = 8 As in the previous eample, both and y dropped out of the equation, but we are left with an irrevocable contradiction, 0 = 8. This tells us that it is impossible to find a pair (, y) which satisfies both equations; in other words, the system has no solution. Graphically, we see that the lines 6 +y = 9 and 4 +2y = 2 are distinct and parallel, and as such do not intersect. 6. We can begin to solve our last system by adding the first two equations y = 0 + ( + y = 2) 2 = 2 which gives =. Substituting this into the first equation gives y = 0 so that y =. We seem to have determined a solution to our system, (, ). While this checks in the first two equations, when we substitute = and y = into the third equation, we get 2()+() = 2 which simplifies to the contradiction = 2. Graphing the lines y =0, + y = 2, and 2 + y = 2, we see that the first two lines do, in fact, intersect at (, ), however, all three lines never intersect at the same point simultaneously, which is what is required if a solution to the system is to be found.

6 404 Systems of Equations y 2 y 6 +y =9 4 +2y =2 y =0 y + =2 2 + y = 2 A few remarks about Eample 8.. are in order. It is clear that some systems of equations have solutions, and some do not. Those which have solutions are called consistent, those with no solution are called inconsistent. We also distinguish the two different types of behavior among consistent systems. Those which admit free variables are called dependent; those with no free variables are called independent. 4 Using this new vocabulary, we classify numbers, 2 and in Eample 8.. as consistent independent systems, number 4 is consistent dependent, and numbers 5 and 6 are inconsistent. 5 The system in 6 above is called overdetermined, since we have more equations than variables. 6 Not surprisingly, a system with more variables than equations is called underdetermined. While the system in number 6 above is overdetermined and inconsistent, there eist overdetermined consistent systems (both dependent and independent) and we leave it to the reader to think about what is happening algebraically and geometrically in these cases. Likewise, there are both consistent and inconsistent underdetermined systems, 7 but a consistent underdetermined system of linear equations is necessarily dependent. 8 In order to move this section beyond a review of Intermediate Algebra, we now define what is meant by a linear equation in n variables. 4 In the case of systems of linear equations, regardless of the number of equations or variables, consistent independent systems have eactly one solution. The reader is encouraged to think about why this is the case for linear equations in two variables. Hint: think geometrically. 5 The adjectives dependent and independent apply only to consistent systems - they describe the type of solutions. 6 If we think if each variable being an unknown quantity, then ostensibly, to recover two unknown quantities, we need two pieces of information - i.e., two equations. Having more than two equations suggests we have more information than necessary to determine the values of the unknowns. While this is not necessarily the case, it does eplain the choice of terminology overdetermined. 7 We need more than two variables to give an eample of the latter. 8 Again, eperience with systems with more variables helps to see this here, as does a solid course in Linear Algebra.

7 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 405 Definition 8.2. A linear equation in n variables,, 2,..., n is an equation of the form a + a a n n = c where a, a 2,...a n and c are real numbers and at least one of a, a 2,...,a n is nonzero. Coupling more than one linear equation in n variables results in a system of linear equations in n variables. Instead of using more familiar variables like, y, and even z and/or w in Definition 8.2, we use subscripts to distinguish the different variables. We have no idea how many variables may be involved, so we use numbers to distinguish them instead of letters. (There is an endless supply of distinct numbers.) As an eample, the linear equation 2 = 4 represents the same relationship between the variables and 2 as the equation y = 4 does between the variables and y. In addition, just as we cannot combine the terms in the epression y, we cannot combine the terms in the epression 2. When solving a system, it becomes increasingly important to keep track of what operations are performed to which equations and to develop a strategy based on the kind of manipulations we ve already employed. To this end, we first remind ourselves of the maneuvers which can be applied to a system of linear equations that result in an equivalent system. 9 Theorem 8.. Given a system of equations, the following moves will result in an equivalent system of equations. ˆ Interchange the position of any two equations. ˆ Replace an equation with a nonzero multiple of itself. a ˆ Replace an equation with itself plus a nonzero multiple of another equation. a That is, an equation which results from multiplying both sides of the equation by the same nonzero number. We have seen plenty of instances of the second and third moves in Theorem 8. when we solved the systems Eample 8... The first move, while it obviously admits an equivalent system, seems silly. Our perception will change as we consider more equations and more variables in this, and later sections. Consider the system of equations y + 2 z = y 2 z = 4 z = 9 That is, a system with the same solution set.

8 406 Systems of Equations Clearly z =, and we substitute this into the second equation y 2 ( ) = 4 to obtain y = 7 2. Finally, we substitute y = 7 2 and z = into the first equation to get ( 7 ) ( )=, so that = 8. The reader can verify that these values of, y and z satisfy all three original equations. It is tempting for us to write the solution to this system by etending the usual (, y) notation to (, y, z) and list our solution as ( 8, 7 2, ). The question quickly becomes what does an ordered triple like ( 8, 7 2, ) represent? Just as ordered pairs are used to locate points on the two-dimensional plane, ordered triples can be used to locate points in space. 0 Moreover, just as equations involving the variables and y describe graphs of one-dimensional lines and curves in the two-dimensional plane, equations involving variables, y, and z describe objects called surfaces in three-dimensional space. Each of the equations in the above system can be visualized as a plane situated in three-space. Geometrically, the system is trying to find the intersection, or common point, of all three planes. If you imagine three sheets of notebook paper each representing a portion of these planes, you will start to see the compleities involved in how three such planes can intersect. Below is a sketch of the three planes. It turns out that any two of these planes intersect in a line, so our intersection point is where all three of these lines meet. Since the geometry for equations involving more than two variables is complicated, we will focus our efforts on the algebra. Returning to the system y + 2 z = y 2 z = 4 z = 0 You were asked to think about this in Eercise in Section.. In fact, these lines are described by the parametric solutions to the systems formed by taking any two of these equations by themselves.

9 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 407 we note the reason it was so easy to solve is that the third equation is solved for z, the second equation involves only y and z, and since the coefficient of y is, it makes it easy to solve for y using our known value for z. Lastly, the coefficient of in the first equation is making it easy to substitute the known values of y and z and then solve for. We formalize this pattern below for the most general systems of linear equations. Again, we use subscripted variables to describe the general case. The variable with the smallest subscript in a given equation is typically called the leading variable of that equation. Definition 8.. A system of linear equations with variables, 2,... n is said to be in triangular form provided all of the following conditions hold:. The subscripts of the variables in each equation are always increasing from left to right. 2. The leading variable in each equation has coefficient.. The subscript on the leading variable in a given equation is greater than the subscript on the leading variable in the equation above it. 4. Any equation without variables a cannot be placed above an equation with variables. a necessarily an identity or contradiction In our previous system, if make the obvious choices =, y = 2,andz =, we see that the system is in triangular form. 2 An eample of a more complicated system in triangular form is = = = = 0 Our goal henceforth will be to transform a given system of linear equations into triangular form using the moves in Theorem 8.. Eample Use Theorem 8. to put the following systems into triangular form and then solve the system if possible. Classify each system as consistent independent, consistent dependent, or inconsistent. 2 If letters are used instead of subscripted variables, Definition 8. can be suitably modified using alphabetical order of the variables instead of numerical order on the subscripts of the variables.

10 408 Systems of Equations y + z = 2 +y z = = y +z = 6 y + z = z = 2 4 9y +2z = = = 0 Solution.. For definitiveness, we label the topmost equation in the system E, the equation beneath that E2, and so forth. We now attempt to put the system in triangular form using an algorithm known as Gaussian Elimination. What this means is that, starting with, we transform the system so that conditions 2 and in Definition 8. are satisfied. Then we move on to the net variable, in this case y, and repeat. Since the variables in all of the equations have a consistent ordering from left to right, our first move is to get an in E s spot with a coefficient of. While there are many ways to do this, the easiest is to apply the first move listed in Theorem 8. and interchange E and E. (E) y + z = (E2) 2 4y +z = 6 (E) y + z = 5 Switch E and E (E) y + z = 5 (E2) 2 4y +z = 6 (E) y + z = To satisfy Definition 8., we need to eliminate the s from E2 and E. We accomplish this by replacing each of them with a sum of themselves and a multiple of E. To eliminate the from E2, we need to multiply E by 2 then add; to eliminate the from E, we need to multiply E by then add. Applying the third move listed in Theorem 8. twice, we get (E) y + z = 5 (E2) 2 4y +z = 6 (E) y + z = Replace E2 with 2E + E2 Replace E with E + E (E) y + z = 5 (E2) 2y + z = 6 (E) 2y 2z = 2 Now we enforce the conditions stated in Definition 8. for the variable y. To that end we need to get the coefficient of y in E2 equal to. We apply the second move listed in Theorem 8. and replace E2 with itself times 2. (E) y + z = 5 (E2) 2y + z = 6 (E) 2y 2z = 2 Replace E2 with 2 E2 (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) 2y 2z = 2

11 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 409 To eliminate the y in E, we add 2E2 to it. (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) 2y 2z = 2 Replace E with 2E2 + E (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) z = 6 Finally, we apply the second move from Theorem 8. one last time and multiply E by to satisfy the conditions of Definition 8. for the variable z. (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) z = 6 Replace E with E (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) z = 6 Now we proceed to substitute. Plugging in z = 6 into E2 gives y = so that y =0. With y = 0 and z =6,E becomes 0+6=5,or =. Our solution is (, 0, 6). We leave it to the reader to check that substituting the respective values for, y, and z into the original system results in three identities. Since we have found a solution, the system is consistent; since there are no free variables, it is independent. 2. Proceeding as we did in, our first step is to get an equation with in the E position with as its coefficient. Since there is no easy fi, we multiply E by 2. (E) 2 +y z = (E2) 0 z = 2 (E) 4 9y +2z = 5 Replace E with 2 E (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) 0 z = 2 (E) 4 9y +2z = 5 Now it s time to take care of the s in E2 and E. (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) 0 z = 2 (E) 4 9y +2z = 5 Replace E2 with 0E + E2 Replace E with 4E + E (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) 5y +4z = (E) 5y +4z = Our net step is to get the coefficient of y in E2 equal to. To that end, we have

12 40 Systems of Equations (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) 5y +4z = (E) 5y +4z = Replace E2 with 5 E2 (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) y 4 5 z = 5 (E) 5y +4z = Finally, we rid E of y. (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) y 4 5 z = 5 (E) 5y +4z = Replace E with 5E2 + E (E) y + z = 5 (E2) y 2 z = (E) 0 = 6 The last equation, 0 = 6, is a contradiction so the system has no solution. According to Theorem 8., since this system has no solutions, neither does the original, thus we have an inconsistent system.. For our last system, we begin by multiplying E by to get a coefficient of on. (E) = 6 (E2) = 4 (E) = 0 Replace E with E (E) = 2 (E2) = 4 (E) = 0 Net we eliminate from E2 (E) = 2 (E2) = 4 (E) = 0 Replace E2 with 2E + E2 (E) = 2 (E2) = 0 (E) = 0 We switch E2 and E to get a coefficient of for 2. (E) = 2 (E2) = 0 (E) = 0 Switch E2 and E (E) = 2 (E2) = 0 (E) = 0

13 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 4 Finally, we eliminate 2 in E. (E) = 2 (E2) = 0 (E) = 0 Replace E with E2+E (E) = 2 (E2) = 0 (E) 0 = 0 Equation E reduces to 0 = 0,which is always true. Since we have no equations with or 4 as leading variables, they are both free, which means we have a consistent dependent system. We parametrize the solution set by letting = s and 4 = t and obtain from E2 that 2 =s +2t. Substituting this and 4 = t into E, we have + (s +2t)+ t =2 which gives =2 s t. Our solution is the set {(2 s t, 2s +t, s, t) : <s,t< }. We leave it to the reader to verify that the substitutions =2 s t, 2 =s +2t, = s and 4 = t satisfy the equations in the original system. Like all algorithms, Gaussian Elimination has the advantage of always producing what we need, but it can also be inefficient at times. For eample, when solving 2 above, it is clear after we eliminated the s in the second step to get the system (E) + 2 y 2 z = 2 (E2) 5y +4z = (E) 5y +4z = that equations E2 and E when taken together form a contradiction since we have identical left hand sides and different right hand sides. The algorithm takes two more steps to reach this contradiction. We also note that substitution in Gaussian Elimination is delayed until all the elimination is done, thus it gets called back-substitution. This may also be inefficient in many cases. Rest assured, the technique of substitution as you may have learned it in Intermediate Algebra will once again take center stage in Section 8.4. Lastly, we note that the system in above is underdetermined, and as it is consistent, we have free variables in our answer. We close this section with a standard miture type application of systems of linear equations. Eample 8... Lucas needs to create a 500 milliliters (ml) of a 40% acid solution. He has stock solutions of 0% and 90% acid as well as all of the distilled water he wants. Set-up and solve a system of linear equations which determines all of the possible combinations of the stock solutions and water which would produce the required solution. Solution. We are after three unknowns, the amount (in ml) of the 0% stock solution (which we ll call ), the amount (in ml) of the 90% stock solution (which we ll call y) and the amount Here, any choice of s and t will determine a solution which is a point in 4-dimensional space. Yeah, we have trouble visualizing that, too.

14 42 Systems of Equations (in ml) of water (which we ll call w). We now need to determine some relationships between these variables. Our goal is to produce 500 milliliters of a 40% acid solution. This product has two defining characteristics. First, it must be 500 ml; second, it must be 40% acid. We take each of these qualities in turn. First, the total volume of 500 ml must be the sum of the contributed volumes of the two stock solutions and the water. That is amount of 0% stock solution + amount of 90% stock solution + amount of water = 500 ml Using our defined variables, this reduces to + y + w = 500. Net, we need to make sure the final solution is 40% acid. Since water contains no acid, the acid will come from the stock solutions only. We find 40% of 500 ml to be 200 ml which means the final solution must contain 200 ml of acid. We have amount of acid in 0% stock solution + amount of acid 90% stock solution = 200 ml The amount of acid in ml of 0% stock is 0.0 and the amount of acid in y ml of 90% solution is 0.90y. We have y = 200. Converting to fractions, 4 our system of equations becomes + y + w = y = 200 We first eliminate the from the second equation (E) + y + w = 500 (E2) y = 200 Replace E2 with 0 E+E2 (E) + y + w = 500 (E2) 5 y 0 w = 50 Net, we get a coefficient of on the leading variable in E2 (E) + y + w = 500 (E2) 5 y 0 w = 50 Replace E2 with 5 E2 (E) + y + w = 500 (E2) y 2 w = 250 Notice that we have no equation to determine w, and as such, w is free. We set w = t and from E2 get y = 2 t Substituting into E gives + ( 2 t ) + t = 500 so that = 2 t This system is consistent, dependent and its solution set is { ( 2 t + 250, 2 t + 250,t) : <t< }. While this answer checks algebraically, we have neglected to take into account that, y and w, being amounts of acid and water, need to be nonnegative. That is, 0, y 0 and w 0. The constraint 0 gives us 2 t , or t From y 0, we get 2 t ort 500. The condition z 0 yields t 0, and we see that when we take the set theoretic intersection of these intervals, we get 0 t Our final answer is {( 2 t + 250, 2 t + 250,t) :0 t }. Of what practical use is our answer? Suppose there is only 00 ml of the 90% solution remaining and it is due to epire. Can we use all of it to make our required solution? We would have y = 00 4 We do this only because we believe students can use all of the practice with fractions they can get!

15 8. Systems of Linear Equations: Gaussian Elimination 4 so that 2 t = 00, and we get t = 00. This means the amount of 0% solution required is = 2 t = ( 00 ) = 00 ml, and for the water, w = t = 00 ml. The reader is invited to check that miing these three amounts of our constituent solutions produces the required 40% acid mi.

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