3. Matrix Algebra

§3.1 Introduction

The purpose of this lab is to make you feel comfortable using MATLAB to perform various operations with matrices.  In some sense, matrices are a bit like real numbers: they can be added, subtracted, and multiplied (provided they have appropriate dimensions).  Certain square matrices can also be inverted.  However, with these similarities also come some striking differences.  For example, when multiplying matrices, it is not true in general that AB = BA, and A2 may equal 0 even for nonzero A.  Keep these things in mind as you are working through this lab; it will help build up your intuition about matrices.

Matrix algebra is not just some crazy theoretical nonsense that people made up when they got bored with real numbers.  You will see how we can apply these ideas to a concrete real world problem.  Hopefully, you will enjoy seeing matrices being applied to everyday life.

§3.2 Addition and Multiplication

You have already seen that we can add two matrices of the same dimensions by adding their corresponding entries.  The operator MATLAB uses to add matrices is simply '+', as the next example shows:

Example 3.1

Let us first enter some matrices into MATLAB:

>> A = [1, 2, 3, 4; 5, 6, 7, 8]
>> B = [8, 7, 6, 5; 4, 3, 2, 1]

We can add them by typing

>> A+B

ans =

9   9   9   9
9   9   9   9

As you know, matrix addition is defined componentwise, but matrix multiplication is defined in a way that may seem strange at first glance.  However, this way of defining matrix multiplication turns out to work to our advantage in the future.  You may have seen some of the motivation for this definition in lecture.  To recap, recall that if we have a matrix A of dimension k x l and a matrix B of dimension l x m, we can multiply them to obtain a k x m matrix AB.  Note that in order to be able to multiply two matrices, the number of columns of the first one must be the same as the number of rows of the second one.  For your convenience here is the definition:

(AB)ij = AinBnj

Here (AB)ij represents the ijth entry of the matrix AB and n runs from 1 to l in the summation.

Example 3.2

Enter the following matrices into MATLAB:

>> A = [1, 1; 1, 0]
>> B = [0, 1; 1, 1]

Now multiply them, simply by typing

>> A*B

ans =

1   2
0   1

What happens if we multiply B by A?

>> B*A

ans =

1   0
2   1

When you multiply two matrices A and B, it is often not true that AB = BA!

 Exercise 3.1  Can you think of any 2x2 matrices D for which CD = DC for all 2x2 matrices C?  Give 2 different examples of such matrices D.

We can do other things with matrices as well. Among things to try are:

 >> A-B (Subtracts two matrices.) >> 2*A (Multiplies matrix A by a scalar 2.) >> A^3 (Raises the matrix A to the third power, i.e., multiplies A by itself three times.) >> A.*B (Multiplies the corresponding entries of the matrices together. We will not be using this command, but it is nice to know.) >> rref(A) (Gives the reduced row echelon form of A.) >> A' (Gives the transpose of A, sometimes written as AT)

where A and B are the same matrices defined in the above example.

 Exercise 3.2 (a)  Enter the following matrices into MATLAB and compute the following expression: C = (2A2B + 3AT)2 (b)  Compute Cx and include all your input and output into your final write up.

§3.3 Application: Incidence Matrices

Consider the following problem: suppose we have six cities with airports, say San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Moscow, and Tokyo.  We are interested in counting the number of ways we can travel from one city to another with at most n stopovers.  Suppose for example that there are direct flights from

San Diego to San Francisco
San Francisco to any of the remaining five cities
Chicago to San Francisco, New York, and Moscow
New York to San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, and Moscow
Moscow to Chicago, New York, and Tokyo
Tokyo to San Francisco, New York, and Moscow

and we want to count the number of ways we can get from San Diego to Moscow with at most 3 stopovers.  For example, the trip San Diego - San Francisco - Tokyo - New York - Moscow is a trip with 3 stopovers.  (We are stopping over in San Francisco, Tokyo, and New York).  Let us get a taste for this problem in the next exercise.

 Exercise 3.3  List all possible ways to get from San Diego to Moscow with exactly 3 stopovers.

At first glance this problem has little to do with matrices and linear algebra, but it turns out that there is a very easy and elegant way of solving problems of this type using something called incidence matrices.

The first step is to number our cities in the order they are listed: San Diego will be 1, San Francisco 2, and so on.  Then, let us set up our incidence matrix A by the following rule: if we can get from the ith city to the jth city, then the entry Aij of the matrix will be set to 1.  Otherwise we set that entry to 0.  By convention we will set all of the diagonal entries, Aii to 0, because you cannot take a flight from a city to itself.  Thus we obtain the following matrix A for our situation:

We can now find a useful interpretation for the entries of the matrix A2. Take, for example:

(A2)36 = A31A16 + A32A26 + A33A36 + A34A46 + A35A56 + A36A66

Note that any of the terms A3kAk6 = 1 if and only if both A3k and Ak6 equal 1; that is, if and only if we can fly from Chicago to the kth city and from the kth city to Tokyo.  Thus (A2)36  gives us the number of ways of flying from Chicago to Tokyo with exactly one stopover.  Similarly one can show that the number of ways of flying from city i to city j with exactly n stopovers is just (An+1)ij.

 Exercise 3.4 (a)  Go ahead and enter the above incidence matrix into MATLAB by typing in the following command: >> A = [0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0; 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1; 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0; 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0; 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1; 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0] Now state the number of ways to get from San Diego to Moscow with exactly 3 stopovers.  Simply type in: >> A^4 and read off the entry in the first row and fifth column.  Does your answer agree with your explicit count in exercise 3.3?  If not, find the missing trips.  Include your input and output in the final Word document. (b)  Find the number of ways to get from San Francisco to Chicago with at most 4 stopovers.  (Note, this is not the same as finding the number of ways with exactly 4 stopovers!)  Include all of your commands and output in your final write up.

Remark 3.1  As you have probably realized, the method discussed above counts silly trips such as San Francisco New York San Francisco New York as a trip with 2 stopovers, so, user beware!

§3.4 Matrix Inversion

A concept of fundamental importance is that of the inverse of a matrix.  Recall that we define the inverse of an n x n matrix A to be a matrix B such that AB = BA = I, where I is the n x n identity matrix.  Such a matrix B is denoted by A-1.  Note that it follows from the definition that B is also an  n x n matrix.

As we know, every nonzero real number x has an inverse, namely 1/x.  However, this need not be the case with non-zero matrices, which may be invertible (sometimes called non-singular) or non-invertible (singular). MATLAB has a special command, inv, that finds the inverse of a matrix, if one exists.

If you want to find an inverse of a square matrix M, simply type

>> inv(M)

(Of course, if you enter this right now you'll probably get an error. We haven't defined a matrix M.)

 Exercise 3.5 (a)  Try using the inv command to find the inverse of the matrix    Notice the strange output.  Include your command and the output in the final write up. (b)  Now enter the following matrix A into MATLAB. >> A = [4, 9; 5, 11] Let us find its inverse: >> B = inv(A) and check that it satisfies the definition. Enter the following commands. >> A*B >> B*A Include your commands and the output they produced in the final write up. (MATLAB may give you entries such as -0.000 as the result of multiplying the matrices above.  Don't pay too much attention to that.  -0.000 is still 0 for all practical purposes.) (c)  Enter the following column vector into MATLAB: >> x = [5;10] Now multiply A by x by entering the following command: >> y = A*x As usual, include your input and output in the final write up. (d)  Now without entering anything into MATLAB (no cheating!), what do you think will be the result of B*y?  Explain your answer. (e)  Check your answer to the above question, by entering the appropriate commands into MATLAB.  Include the input and output in your Word document.

§3.5 Application: Matrices and Presidential Elections

Certainly, the title of this section sounds a bit strange.  What do matrices and presidents have in common?  We'll begin an application here involving the use of matrices to study long term election results. We have not developed all of the math we'll need to finish the example, however, so we'll actually finish this example in the next MATLAB assignment.

Let us consider a math model which is used in many subjects involving dynamics by illustrating it in a simple "sociological" situation.   In California when you register to vote you declare a party affiliation. Suppose we have four political parties: Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians, and we get the (publically available) data telling us what percentage of voters in each party switch to a different party every 4 years.  So we may be told something like this... "81% of Democrats remain Democrats, 9% convert to Republicans, 6% switch to Independents and 4% become Libertarians."  Suppose we have this sort of information for each party, and we organize it into a matrix, which we shall call P, as follows:

 Democrats Republicans Independents Libertarians Democrats 0.81 0.08 0.16 0.10 Republicans 0.09 0.84 0.05 0.08 Independent 0.06 0.04 0.74 0.04 Libertarians 0.04 0.04 0.05 0.78

(For example, the 0.05 in the second row and third column indicates that every four years, 5% of those calling themselves Independent will switch to the Republican party.)  Note that we are assuming that these percentages do not change from one election to the next.  This is not a very realistic assumption, but it will do for our simple model.

The question of course is to try to determine the outcome of all future elections, and if possible, the composition of the electorate in the long term.  Let D0, R0, I0 and L0 denote the current percentage of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Libertarians.  In four years these numbers will change according to the matrix above, as follows:

D1 = 0.81D0 + 0.08R0 + 0.16I0 + 0.10L0
R1 = 0.09D0 + 0.84R0 + 0.05I0 + 0.08L0
I1 = 0.06D0 + 0.04R0 + 0.74I0 + 0.04L0
L1 = 0.04D0 + 0.04R0 + 0.05I0 + 0.78L0

Let xn be the vector (Dn, Rn, In, Ln)T. It represents the percentage of representatives of each party after n presidential elections and we shall call it the party distribution.  From the calculation above we see that

x1 = Px0

x2 = P2x0 and in general xn = Pnx0

Assuming everyone voted along party lines, from the presidential election of 2004 we know that x0 is roughly (48.56, 51.01, 0.0013, 0.0030)T

 Exercise 3.6 (a) Enter the matrix P and the vector x0 into MATLAB. To avoid mistakes, just copy and paste this: >> P = [0.8100 0.0800 0.1600 0.1000; 0.0900 0.8400 0.0500 0.0800; 0.0600 0.0400 0.7400 0.0400; 0.0400 0.0400 0.0500 0.7800] >> x0 = [48.56; 51.01; 0.0013; 0.0030] What will the party distribution vector be 3, 7, and 10 presidential elections from now? (b)  What will be the results 30, 60, 100 elections from now?   How much different is x 30 from x 60 from x 100 ? Summarize simply what is happening with x k as k gets big.

From the previous exercise you probably observed that the results seem to stabilize the further into the future we go.  We lack the mathematics to describe what is really going on here just yet, so make sure to save a copy of your results from this exercise. We'll revisit and finish the election application in the next lab.

§3.6 Feedback
Introduction to MATLAB
We're almost done, but before we finish we'd like to get some (optional) feedback from you so that we can improve this lab.  If you have any comments, write them (by hand if you like) on a separate page at the end of your assignment, so that we can tear it off before we give back your assignment.

 Feedback (Optional) Do you have any suggestions to help improve this lab?  This includes errors or potential errors, typos, unclear statements or questions, or anything else that comes to mind.  The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for us to improve the lab.

§3.7 Conclusion

Hopefully you have gained some more intuition about matrices from this lab.  You have seen that we can perform similar operations on them, as we can on real numbers, but at the same time, their behavior can be very different from that of real numbers.  We would also like to think that you have enjoyed seeing some applications of such basic things as multiplication and inversion of matrices, to an interesting real world problem.  The many uses of linear algebra in the real world are still to be investigated further in future labs and the appendices.

Last Modified:

06/11/2009