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Foundation Mathematics for the Physical Sciences by K. F. Riley, M. P. Hobson

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10

Matrices and vector spaces

In Chapter 9 we defined a vector as a geometrical object which has both a magnitude and a direction and which may be thought of as an arrow fixed in our familiar three-dimensional space, a space which, if we need to, we define by reference to, say, the fixed stars. This geometrical definition of a vector is both useful and important since it is independent of any coordinate system with which we choose to label points in space.

In most specific applications, however, it is necessary at some stage to choose a coordinate system and to break down a vector into its component vectors in the directions of increasing coordinate values. Thus for a particular Cartesian coordinate system (for example) the component vectors ...

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