Strang Theory
June 9, 2010 9:28 PM   Subscribe

What is the difference between Gilbert Strang's two linear algebra textbooks?

Gilbert Strang has published two linear algebra textbooks: Introduction to Linear Algebra and Linear Algebra and its Applications. Both have been around a while and gone through numerous editions. What's the difference? Even Strang's own website doesn't compare the two, and from all the descriptions I can find they are roughly similar in scope and rigor.

Background: I learned linear algebra from a "math for non-math majors" book (this one), but I would like to get a more thorough treatment of the subject. I'm not necessarily looking for an abstract pure-math approach, but I need something with more advanced topics like special types of matrices, pseudo-inverses, and the SVD. I'm looking at Strang's books because I really like his video lectures, and they seem widely recommended. At this point, I guess I would have a high level of "mathematical maturity" compared to your average linear algebra student, so I would like to get the more complete of the two books. Recommendations of an alternate book would also be helpful. Thanks!
posted by scose to Education (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could e-mail the author asking him.

You realise, of course, that you can preview the former book online? And the latter book you can have ebayers mail you the cut-price indian edition for $30 if you don't like Amazon's $160 price. Needless to say, at the lower price you'd lose less if you didn't like the book.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:16 AM on June 10, 2010

In case you're tempted, stay far away from Computational Science and Engineering. While the video lectures are great, the book is dreadful.
posted by jewzilla at 1:46 AM on June 10, 2010

Iirc Strang is crazy abstract. If you want actual useful knowledge, you want Horn and Johnson. No nonsense.
posted by tintexas at 2:15 AM on June 10, 2010

For the topics you're interested in, I can wholeheartedly recommend Carl D. Meyer's Matrix Analysis and Applied Linear Algebra, but it is a bit advanced. I think you would need a strong grasp on the basic computations of linear algebra (at least up through diagonalization) before being prepared to tackle it. (It does include these topics in the beginning, but it moves quite quickly though them.) It also requires a tiny bit of analysis knowledge, namely at least being familiar with the idea of a norm.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: For those who are interested, I eventually found through other means that Linear Algebra and its Applications is a more advanced book.
posted by scose at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2010

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