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Linear Algebra Done Right

Sheldon Axler

You are about to teach a course that will probably give students their second exposure to linear algebra. During their first brush with the subject, your students probably worked with Euclidean spaces and matrices. In contrast, this course will emphasize abstract vector spaces and linear maps. The audacious title of this book deserves an explanation. Almost all linear algebra books use determinants to prove that every linear operator on a finite-dimensional complex vector space has an eigenvalue. Determinants are difficult, nonintuitive, and often defined without motivation. To prove the theorem about existence of eigenvalues on complex vector spaces, most books must define determinants, prove that a linear map is not invertible if and only if its determinant equals 0, and then define the characteristic polynomial. This tortuous (torturous?) path gives students little feeling for why eigenvalues exist

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