It is often desirable or even necessary to use more than one variable to model a situation in many fields. When this is the case, we write and solve a system of equations in order to answer questions about the situation.
If a system of linear equations has at least one solution, it is consistent. If the system has no solutions, it is inconsistent. If the system has an infinity number of solutions, it is dependent. Otherwise it is independent.
A linear equation in three variables describes a plane and is an equation equivalent to the equation
Solve the following system of equations for x, y and z:
We are going to show you how to solve this system of equations three different ways:
1) Substitution, 2) Elimination 3) Matrices
The process of substitution involves several steps:
Step 1: Solve for one of the variables in one of the equations. It makes no difference which equation and which variable you choose. Let's solve for x in equation (1).
Step 8: Check the solutions:
The process of elimination involves several steps: First you reduce three equations to two equations with two variables, and then to one equation with one variable.
Step 1: Decide which variable you will eliminate. It makes no difference which one you choose. Let us eliminate y first.
The process of using matrices is essentially a shortcut of the process of elimination. Each row of the matrix represents an equation and each column represents coefficients of one of the variables.
Step 1: Create a three-row by four-column matrix using coefficients and the constant of each equation.
The vertical lines in the matrix stands for the equal signs between both sides of each equation. The first column contains the coefficients of x, the second column contains the coefficients of y, the third column contains the coefficients of z, and the last column contains the constants.
We want to convert the original matrix
Step 2: We work with column 1 first. Multiply Row 1 by to form a new Row 1.
If you would like to go back to the problem page, click on Problem.
If you would like to review the solution to the next problem, click on Problem
If you would like to return to the beginning of the three by three system of equations, click on Example.
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Author: Nancy Marcus