Vector and Matrix Algebra

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This free course introduces students to essential ideas related to vectors and matrices.  These mathematical structures form the foundations for many key topics in complex systems, such as dynamical systems, stochastic processes, and network science.

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Interested in learning Vector and Matrix Algebra? This free online course from the Santa Fe Institute is the best place to start.

Vector and Matrix Algebra course description

This free course introduces students to essential ideas related to vectors and matrices.  These mathematical structures form the foundations for many key topics in complex systems, such as dynamical systems, stochastic processes, and network science.  The prerequisite for this tutorial is knowledge of high-school algebra.  The content of the tutorial is built, in a self-contained fashion, starting with basic notions of real numbers and elementary set theory.  Ideas of vectors and vector operations are developed next, in an intuitive way, by appealing, simultaneously to their algebraic and geometric underpinnings. Next, the tutorial explores matrices and vector spaces, determininants and eigenvalues with, again, an eye toward understanding the intuitive geometric and algrebraic connections that tie these notions together. Finally, the tutorial concludes with a survey of applications of matrix algebra, including diagnolization, recursion, geometric transformations, differential operators and Markov Chains.

Importantly, the content and emphasis of this material differs significantly from a standard university course in linear algebra.  Instead of solving and analyzing systems of linear equations of the form Ax=b, as is conventional from the perspective of linear algebra, students will instead be exposed to the fundamental ideas of matrix algebra in a less restrictive and more conceptually-integrated way. At the conclusion of this tutorial, students will be equipped with a core understanding of the breadth and power of matrix algebra as an essential tool for complex systems research.

Course content

  • Sets and Vectors
  • Matrices and Vector Spaces
  • Matrix Applications

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Vector and Matrix Algebra
Vector and Matrix Algebra
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