Fun linear algebra solutions, part 1

Someone pointed out that my “fun linear algebra problems” post would be more useful with solutions. Here’s a solution to problems 1 and 2. (My favorite solution to problem 1 part (c) requires some group theory, so it isn’t suitable for beginning linear algebraists, but there are mildly more annoying ones using only linear algebra.)

Problem 1

Let $\mathbb{F}$ be the finite field of $p^k$ elements. Let $V$ be a $n$-dimensional vector space over $\mathbb{F}$.

a. How many linear transformations $T: V \to V$ are there?

b. How many of these are invertible?

(a) Linear maps $T: V \to V$ are in bijection with $n \times n$ matrices over the field $\mathbb{F}$. Each matrix entry has $p^k$ possibilities so the total number of matrices is $$p^{kn^2}.$$

(b) Recall that $T$ is invertible iff it maps a basis to another basis. Then there are as many invertible maps as there are bases of $V$. Imagine picking such a basis $e_1, \dots, e_n$ sequentially; we will count how many possibilities there are for each choice.

When picking vector $e_i$, it may not be in the span of $e_1, \dots, e_{i-1}$, or we get linear dependence again. That span is a vector space of dimension $i-1$, so it has $|\mathbb{F}|^{i-1}$ elements. Any of the other vectors in $V$ are available to pick, so there are $|V| - |\mathbb{F}|^{i-1}$ possibilities. (This also holds for $i=1$ if we define the span of the empty set to be the zero-dimensional vector space.)

Multiplying the number of possibilities for each vector together, we get $\prod_{i=1}^n |\mathbb{F}|^n - |\mathbb{F}|^{i-1}$ or, simplifying, $$\prod_{i=0}^{n-1} (p^{kn} - p^{ki}).$$

(c) Let $GL(V)$ denote the set of invertible maps $V \to V$; let $SL(V)$ denote the subset of such maps of determinant 1. Note that $GL(V)$ is a group with composition as the group law, and that $\det : GL(n) \to \mathbb{F}^\times$ is a group homomorphism whose kernel is $SL(V)$. Then $SL(V)$ is a normal subgroup of $GL(V)$ of index $|\mathbb{F}^\times| = p^k - 1$, so $$|SL(V)| = |GL(V)|/(p^k-1).$$

Problem 2

Let $f_n$ be the $n$th Fibonacci number.

  1. Find a linear transformation $T : \mathbb{R}^2 \to \mathbb{R}^2$ such that $T(f_{n-1}, f_{n}) = (f_n, f_{n+1})$ for all $n$. Write down the matrix of $T$ with respect to the standard basis.
  2. Find an algorithm for determining the $n$th Fibonacci number in $O(\log n)$ time rather than the typical $O(n)$ (assuming addition and multiplication are $O(1)$).
  3. What are the eigenvalues of $T$?
  4. Derive the closed-form expression for the $n$th Fibonacci number.

(a) The desired map is $T(x, y) = (y, x+y)$; its matrix is $$M = \left(\begin{array}{cc}0 & 1 \\ 1 & 1\end{array}\right)$$

(b) We have $f_n$ is the first coordinate of $T^n(0, 1)$, so we can compute $f_n$ if we can compute $M^n$. Multiplying $2 \times 2$ matrices is constant time, so using repeated squaring we can compute $M^n$ in logarithmic time.

(c) The characteristic polynomial of $M$ is $x^2 - x - 1$, so the eigenvalues are $\frac{1 \pm \sqrt{5}}{2} = \{\phi, 1-\phi\}$ (where $\phi$ is the golden ratio).

(d) The eigenvectors of $T$ are $(1, \phi)$, corresponding to the eigenvalue $\phi$, and $(1, 1-\phi)$ with eigenvalue $(1-\phi)$. We can decompose $(0, 1) = \frac{(1, \phi) - (1, 1-\phi)}{\sqrt{5}}$. Then $$T^n(0, 1) = T^n\left(\frac{(1, \phi) - (1, 1-\phi)}{\sqrt{5}}\right) = \frac{\phi^n(1, \phi) + (1-\phi)^n(1, 1-\phi))}{\sqrt{5}},$$ and for the closed-form expression we get $$f_n = \frac{\phi^n - (1-\phi)^n}{\sqrt{5}}.$$


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