## Misconceptions about diagonal and tridiagonal matrices

A reader wrote: “I purchased on lulu the 2nd edition of your Introduction to Matrix Algebra for self study, and the book just arrived. I started reading it and found some annoying errors. For example on Chapter 1, page 5: for the first (diagonal) matrix, why is there a zero located in a33, when you defined on the previous page that only diagonal entries of square matrix can be non-zero (this answer is different on your free online pdf) . Also, on page 6 for the tridiagonal matrix, why is there a zero located in the diagonal below the major diagonal? I was wondering if you can provide me with the list of errors and corrections, because it’s going to be very difficult to study the material on my own and the errors in the book just makes it more frustrating.”

My answer: “There is no erratum issued yet on the book.

A diagonal matrix is diagonal based on the nondiagonal elements being zero. The diagonal elements have no restrictions. They can be zero or nonzero.

A tridiagonal matrix is a square matrix in which all elements not on the following are zero – the major diagonal, the above the major diagonal, and the diagonal below the major diagonal. The major diagonal, the diagonal above the major diagonal, and the diagonal below the major diagonal have no restrictions. They can be zero or nonzero.

The concerns you have raised are some of the common misconceptions students develop about these special matrices.

______________________________________________

This post is brought to you by Holistic Numerical Methods: Numerical Methods for the STEM undergraduate at http://nm.MathForCollege.com, the textbook on Numerical Methods with Applications available from the lulu storefront, the textbook on Introduction to Programming Concepts Using MATLAB, and the YouTube video lectures available at http://nm.MathForCollege.com/videos. Subscribe to the blog via a reader or email to stay updated with this blog. Let the information follow you.