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Elementary Linear Algebra

Ron Larson and David C. Falvo
Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Miklós Bóna
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This is a one-semester introductory textbook on linear algebra meant for non-mathematics majors. There are seven printed chapters and three additional chapters online. My estimate is that for a one-semester course, the seven printed chapters are enough, and for a two-semester course, the three online chapters will not be enough. Still, the online chapters are a welcome addition, since they contain important and accessible topics for the interested student.

The content of the book is much in line with competing textbooks. The order in which the topics are covered is somewhat different from the textbooks this reviewer has been using. In particular, determinants come early, in Chapter three (after Systems of Linear Equations and Matrices), and even Vector Spaces and Inner Product Spaces precede Linear Transformations, which only come in Chapter 6. The printed part of the book ends with a chapter on eigenvalues and diagonalization, in line with the competing literature. The exercises are at the right level and there are plenty of them. This reviewer liked the idea of including cumulative tests after Chapters 3, 5, and 7.

The three online chapters start with Complex Numbers. This reviewer was happy to see that since many students in the audience of the class for which this book is meant seem to need an introduction to that topic. The other two online chapters are more advanced; they cover Linear Programming and Numerical Methods.

The electronic chapters can be downloaded from the publisher's website for $23.49 each. Given the $170-dollar price of the textbook, this is very expensive. It is worth noting that six-month access to the electronic version of the textbook costs only $94.99.

Miklós Bóna is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Florida.

The table of contents is not available.