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This article is about determinants in mathematics. For determinants in epidemiology, see Risk factor.

It has been suggested that this article be merged with Matrix determinant lemma. (Discuss) Proposed since November 2013. |

In linear algebra, the **determinant** is a value associated with a square matrix. It can be computed from the entries of the matrix by a specific arithmetic expression, while other ways to determine its value exist as well. The determinant provides important information about a matrix of coefficients of a system of linear equations, or about a matrix that corresponds to a linear transformation of a vector space. In the first case the system has a unique solution exactly when the determinant is nonzero; when the determinant is zero there are either no solutions or many solutions. In the second case the transformation has an inverse operation exactly when the determinant is nonzero. A geometric interpretation can be given to the value of the determinant of a square matrix with real entries: the absolute value of the determinant gives the scale factor by which area or volume (or a higher dimensional analogue) is multiplied under the associated linear transformation, while its sign indicates whether the transformation preserves orientation. Thus a 2 × 2 matrix with determinant −2, when applied to a region of the plane with finite area, will transform that region into one with twice the area, while reversing its orientation.

Determinants occur throughout mathematics. The use of determinants in calculus includes the Jacobian determinant in the substitution rule for integrals of functions of several variables. They are used to define the characteristic polynomial of a matrix that is an essential tool in eigenvalue problems in linear algebra. In some cases they are used just as a compact notation for expressions that would otherwise be unwieldy to write down.

The determinant of a matrix **A** is denoted det(**A**), det **A**, or |**A**|.^{[1]} In the case where the matrix entries are written out in full, the determinant is denoted by surrounding the matrix entries by vertical bars instead of the brackets or parentheses of the matrix. For instance, the determinant of the matrix

is written

and has the value

Although most often used for matrices whose entries are real or complex numbers, the definition of the determinant only involves addition, subtraction and multiplication, and so it can be defined for square matrices with entries taken from any commutative ring. Thus for instance the determinant of a matrix with integer coefficients will be an integer, and the matrix has an inverse with integer coefficients if and only if this determinant is 1 or −1 (these being the only invertible elements of the integers). For square matrices with entries in a non-commutative ring, for instance the quaternions, there is no unique definition for the determinant, and no definition that has all the usual properties of determinants over commutative rings.

There are various ways to define the determinant of a square matrix *A*, i.e. one with the same number of rows and columns. Perhaps the most natural way is expressed in terms of the columns of the matrix. If we write an *n* × *n* matrix in terms of its column vectors

where the are vectors of size *n*, then the determinant of *A* is defined so that

where *b* and *c* are scalars, *v* is any vector of size *n* and *I* is the identity matrix of size *n*. These equations say that the determinant is a linear function of each column, that interchanging adjacent columns reverses the sign of the determinant, and that the determinant of the identity matrix is 1. These properties mean that the determinant is an alternating multilinear function of the columns that maps the identity matrix to the underlying unit scalar. These suffice to uniquely calculate the determinant of any square matrix. Provided the underlying scalars form a field (more generally, a commutative ring with unity), the definition below shows that such a function exists, and it can be shown to be unique.^{[2]}

Equivalently, the determinant can be expressed as a sum of products of entries of the matrix where each product has *n* terms and the coefficient of each product is −1 or 1 or 0 according to a given rule: it is a polynomial expression of the matrix entries. This expression grows rapidly with the size of the matrix (an *n* × *n* matrix contributes *n*! terms), so it will first be given explicitly for the case of 2×2 matrices and 3 × 3 matrices, followed by the rule for arbitrary size matrices, which subsumes these two cases.

Assume *A* is a square matrix with *n* rows and *n* columns, so that it can be written as

The entries can be numbers or expressions (as happens when the determinant is used to define a characteristic polynomial); the definition of the determinant depends only on the fact that they can be added and multiplied together in a commutative manner.

The determinant of *A* is denoted as det(*A*), or it can be denoted directly in terms of the matrix entries by writing enclosing bars instead of brackets:

The determinant of a 2 × 2 matrix is defined by

If the matrix entries are real numbers, the matrix *A* can be used to represent two linear mappings: one that maps the standard basis vectors to the rows of *A*, and one that maps them to the columns of *A*. In either case, the images of the basis vectors form a parallelogram that represents the image of the unit square under the mapping. The parallelogram defined by the rows of the above matrix is the one with vertices at (0, 0), (*a*, *b*), (*a* + *c*, *b* + *d*), and (*c*, *d*), as shown in the accompanying diagram. The absolute value of *ad* − *bc* is the area of the parallelogram, and thus represents the scale factor by which areas are transformed by *A*. (The parallelogram formed by the columns of *A* is in general a different parallelogram, but since the determinant is symmetric with respect to rows and columns, the area will be the same.)

The absolute value of the determinant together with the sign becomes the *oriented area* of the parallelogram. The oriented area is the same as the usual area, except that it is negative when the angle from the first to the second vector defining the parallelogram turns in a clockwise direction (which is opposite to the direction one would get for the identity matrix).

Thus the determinant gives the scaling factor and the orientation induced by the mapping represented by *A*. When the determinant is equal to one, the linear mapping defined by the matrix is equi-areal and orientation-preserving.

The object known as the *bivector* is related to these ideas. In 2d, it can be interpreted as an *oriented plane segment* formed by imagining two vectors each with origin (0, 0), and coordinates (*a*, *b*) and (*c*, *d*). The bivector magnitude (denoted (*a*, *b*) ∧ (*c*, *d*)) is the *signed area*, which is also the determinant *ad* − *bc*.^{[3]}

The determinant of a 3×3 matrix is defined by

The rule of Sarrus is a mnemonic for the 3x3 matrix determinant: the sum of the products of three diagonal north-west to south-east lines of matrix elements, minus the sum of the products of three diagonal south-west to north-east lines of elements, when the copies of the first two columns of the matrix are written beside it as in the illustration. This scheme for calculating the determinant of a 3 × 3 matrix does not carry over into higher dimensions.

The determinant of a matrix of arbitrary size can be defined by the Leibniz formula or the Laplace formula.

The Leibniz formula for the determinant of an *n* × *n* matrix **A** is

Here the sum is computed over all permutations σ of the set {1, 2, ..., *n*}. A permutation is a function that reorders this set of integers. The value in the *i*th position after the reordering σ is denoted σ_{i}. For example, for *n* = 3, the original sequence 1, 2, 3 might be reordered to σ = [2, 3, 1], with σ_{1} = 2, σ_{2} = 3, and σ_{3} = 1. The set of all such permutations (also known as the symmetric group on *n* elements) is denoted *S*_{n}. For each permutation σ, sgn(σ) denotes the signature of σ, a value that is +1 whenever the reordering given by σ can be achieved by successively interchanging two entries an even number of times, and −1 whenever it can be achieved by an odd number of such interchanges.

In any of the summands, the term

is notation for the product of the entries at positions (*i*, σ_{i}), where *i* ranges from 1 to *n*:

For example, the determinant of a 3 × 3 matrix *A* (*n* = 3) is

It is sometimes useful to extend the Leibniz formula to a summation in which not only permutations, but all sequences of *n* indices in the range 1,...,*n* occur, ensuring that the contribution of a sequence will be zero unless it denotes a permutation. Thus the totally antisymmetric Levi-Civita symbol extends the signature of a permutation, by setting for any permutation σ of *n*, and when no permutation σ exists such that for (or equivalently, whenever some pair of indices are equal). The determinant for an *n* × *n* matrix can then be expressed using an *n*-fold summation as

The determinant has many properties. Some basic properties of determinants are:

- where
*I*_{n}is the*n*×*n*identity matrix. - For square matrices
*A*and*B*of equal size,

- for an
*n*×*n*matrix. - If
*A*is a triangular matrix, i.e.*a*_{i,j}= 0 whenever*i*>*j*or, alternatively, whenever*i*<*j*, then its determinant equals the product of the diagonal entries:

This can be deduced from some of the properties below, but it follows most easily directly from the Leibniz formula (or from the Laplace expansion), in which the identity permutation is the only one that gives a non-zero contribution.

A number of additional properties relate to the effects on the determinant of changing particular rows or columns:

- Viewing an
*n*×*n*matrix as being composed of*n*columns, the determinant is an*n*-linear function. This means that if one column of a matrix*A*is written as a sum*v*+*w*of two column vectors, and all other columns are left unchanged, then the determinant of*A*is the sum of the determinants of the matrices obtained from*A*by replacing the column by*v*and then by*w*(and a similar relation holds when writing a column as a scalar multiple of a column vector). - This
*n*-linear function is an alternating form. This means that whenever two columns of a matrix are identical, or more generally some column can be expressed as a linear combination of the other columns (i.e. the columns of the matrix form a linearly dependent set), its determinant is 0.

Properties 1, 7 and 8 — which all follow from the Leibniz formula — completely characterize the determinant; in other words the determinant is the unique function from *n* × *n* matrices to scalars that is *n*-linear alternating in the columns, and takes the value 1 for the identity matrix (this characterization holds even if scalars are taken in any given commutative ring). To see this it suffices to expand the determinant by multi-linearity in the columns into a (huge) linear combination of determinants of matrices in which each column is a standard basis vector. These determinants are either 0 (by property 8) or else ±1 (by properties 1 and 11 below), so the linear combination gives the expression above in terms of the Levi-Civita symbol. While less technical in appearance, this characterization cannot entirely replace the Leibniz formula in defining the determinant, since without it the existence of an appropriate function is not clear. For matrices over non-commutative rings, properties 7 and 8 are incompatible for *n* ≥ 2,^{[4]} so there is no good definition of the determinant in this setting.

Property 2 above implies that properties for columns have their counterparts in terms of rows:

- Viewing an
*n*×*n*matrix as being composed of*n*rows, the determinant is an*n*-linear function. - This
*n*-linear function is an alternating form: whenever two rows of a matrix are identical, its determinant is 0. - Interchanging two columns of a matrix multiplies its determinant by −1. This follows from properties 7 and 8 (it is a general property of multilinear alternating maps). Iterating gives that more generally a permutation of the columns multiplies the determinant by the sign of the permutation. Similarly a permutation of the rows multiplies the determinant by the sign of the permutation.
- Adding a scalar multiple of one column to
*another*column does not change the value of the determinant. This is a consequence of properties 7 and 8: by property 7 the determinant changes by a multiple of the determinant of a matrix with two equal columns, which determinant is 0 by property 8. Similarly, adding a scalar multiple of one row to another row leaves the determinant unchanged.

These properties can be used to facilitate the computation of determinants by simplifying the matrix to the point where the determinant can be determined immediately. Specifically, for matrices with coefficients in a field, properties 11 and 12 can be used to transform any matrix into a triangular matrix, whose determinant is given by property 6; this is essentially the method of Gaussian elimination.

For example, the determinant of

can be computed using the following matrices:

Here, *B* is obtained from *A* by adding −1/2×the first row to the second, so that det(*A*) = det(*B*). *C* is obtained from *B* by adding the first to the third row, so that det(*C*) = det(*B*). Finally, *D* is obtained from *C* by exchanging the second and third row, so that det(*D*) = −det(*C*). The determinant of the (upper) triangular matrix *D* is the product of its entries on the main diagonal: (−2) · 2 · 4.5 = −18. Therefore det(*A*) = −det(*D*) = +18.

The determinant of a matrix product of square matrices equals the product of their determinants:

Thus the determinant is a *multiplicative map*. This property is a consequence of the characterization given above of the determinant as the unique *n*-linear alternating function of the columns with value 1 on the identity matrix, since the function *M*_{n}(*K*) → *K* that maps *M* ↦ det(*AM*) can easily be seen to be *n*-linear and alternating in the columns of *M*, and takes the value det(*A*) at the identity. The formula can be generalized to (square) products of rectangular matrices, giving the Cauchy–Binet formula, which also provides an independent proof of the multiplicative property.

The determinant det(*A*) of a matrix *A* is non-zero if and only if *A* is invertible or, yet another equivalent statement, if its rank equals the size of the matrix. If so, the determinant of the inverse matrix is given by

In particular, products and inverses of matrices with determinant one still have this property. Thus, the set of such matrices (of fixed size *n*) form a group known as the special linear group. More generally, the word "special" indicates the subgroup of another matrix group of matrices of determinant one. Examples include the special orthogonal group (which if *n* is 2 or 3 consists of all rotation matrices), and the special unitary group.

Laplace's formula expresses the determinant of a matrix in terms of its minors. The minor *M*_{i,j} is defined to be the determinant of the (*n*−1) × (*n*−1)-matrix that results from *A* by removing the *i*th row and the *j*th column. The expression (−1)^{i+j}*M*_{i,j} is known as cofactor. The determinant of *A* is given by

Calculating det(*A*) by means of that formula is referred to as expanding the determinant along a row or column. For the example 3 × 3 matrix

Laplace expansion along the second column (*j* = 2, the sum runs over *i*) yields:

However, Laplace expansion is efficient for small matrices only.

The adjugate matrix adj(*A*) is the transpose of the matrix consisting of the cofactors, i.e.,

Sylvester's determinant theorem states that for *A*, an *m* × *n* matrix, and *B*, an *n* × *m* matrix (so that *A* and *B* have dimensions allowing them to be multiplied in either order):

- ,

where *I*_{m} and *I*_{n} are the *m* × *m* and *n* × *n* identity matrices, respectively.

From this general result several consequences follow.

- (a) For the case of column vector
*c*and row vector*r*, each with*m*components, the formula allows quick calculation of the determinant of a matrix that differs from the identity matrix by a matrix of rank 1:

- .

- (b) More generally,
^{[5]}for any invertible*m*×*m*matrix*X*,

- ,

- (c) For a column and row vector as above, .

Main article: Eigenvalues and eigenvectors

Determinants can be used to find the eigenvalues of the matrix *A*: they are the solutions of the characteristic equation

where *I* is the identity matrix of the same dimension as *A*. Conversely, det(*A*) is the product of the eigenvalues of *A*, counted with their algebraic multiplicities. The product of all non-zero eigenvalues is referred to as pseudo-determinant.

An Hermitian matrix is positive definite if all its eigenvalues are positive. Sylvester's criterion asserts that this is equivalent to the determinants of the submatrices

being positive, for all *k* between 1 and *n*.

The trace tr(*A*) is by definition the sum of the diagonal entries of *A* and also equals the sum of the eigenvalues. Thus, for complex matrices *A*,

or, for real matrices *A*,

Here exp(*A*) denotes the matrix exponential of *A*, because every eigenvalue λ of *A* corresponds to the eigenvalue exp(λ) of exp(*A*). In particular, given any logarithm of *A*, that is, any matrix *L* satisfying

the determinant of *A* is given by

For example, for *n* = 2, *n* = 3, and *n* = 4, respectively,

cf. Cayley-Hamilton theorem. Such expressions are deducible from Newton's identities.

In the general case, ^{[6]}

where the sum is taken over the set of all integers *k _{l}* ≥ 0 satisfying the equation

This formula can also be used to find the determinant of a matrix *A ^{I}_{J}* with multidimensional indices

An arbitrary dimension *n* identity can be obtained from the Mercator series expansion of the logarithm,

where *I* is the identity matrix. The sum and the expansion of the exponential only need to go up to *n* instead of ∞, since the determinant cannot exceed *O(A ^{n})*.

For a matrix equation

the solution is given by Cramer's rule:

where *A*_{i} is the matrix formed by replacing the *i*th column of *A* by the column vector *b*. This follows immediately by column expansion of the determinant, i.e.

where the vectors are the columns of *A*. The rule is also implied by the identity

It has recently been shown that Cramer's rule can be implemented in O(*n*^{3}) time,^{[7]} which is comparable to more common methods of solving systems of linear equations, such as LU, QR, or singular value decomposition.

Suppose *A*, *B*, *C*, and *D* are matrices of dimension (*n* × *n*), (*n* × *m*), (*m* × *n*), and (*m* × *m*), respectively. Then

This can be seen from the Leibniz formula or by induction on *n*. When *A* is invertible, employing the following identity

leads to

When *D* is invertible, a similar identity with factored out can be derived analogously,^{[8]} that is,

When the blocks are square matrices of the same order further formulas hold. For example, if *C* and *D* commute (i.e., *CD* = *DC*), then the following formula comparable to the determinant of a 2×2 matrix holds:^{[9]}

When *A* = *D* and *B* = *C*, the blocks are square matrices of the same order and the following formula holds (even if *A* and *B* do not commute)

When *D* is a 1×1 matrix, *B* is a column vector, and *C* is a row vector then

By definition, e.g., using the Leibniz formula, the determinant of real (or analogously for complex) square matrices is a polynomial function from **R**^{n × n} to **R**. As such it is everywhere differentiable. Its derivative can be expressed using Jacobi's formula:

where adj(*A*) denotes the adjugate of *A*. In particular, if *A* is invertible, we have

Expressed in terms of the entries of *A*, these are

Yet another equivalent formulation is

- ,

using big O notation. The special case where , the identity matrix, yields

This identity is used in describing the tangent space of certain matrix Lie groups.

If the matrix A is written as where **a**, **b**, **c** are vectors, then the gradient over one of the three vectors may be written as the cross product of the other two:

The above identities concerning the determinant of products and inverses of matrices imply that similar matrices have the same determinant: two matrices *A* and *B* are similar, if there exists an invertible matrix *X* such that *A* = *X*^{−1}*BX*. Indeed, repeatedly applying the above identities yields

The determinant is therefore also called a similarity invariant. The determinant of a linear transformation

for some finite dimensional vector space *V* is defined to be the determinant of the matrix describing it, with respect to an arbitrary choice of basis in *V*. By the similarity invariance, this determinant is independent of the choice of the basis for *V* and therefore only depends on the endomorphism *T*.

The vector space *W* of all alternating multilinear *n*-forms on an *n*-dimensional vector space *V* has dimension one. To each linear transformation *T* on *V* we associate a linear transformation *T*′ on *W*, where for each *w* in *W* we define (*T*′*w*)(*x*_{1},...,*x*_{n}) = *w*(*Tx*_{1},...,*Tx*_{n}). As a linear transformation on a one-dimensional space, *T*′ is equivalent to a scalar multiple. We call this scalar the determinant of *T*.

The determinant can also be characterized as the unique function

from the set of all *n* × *n* matrices with entries in a field *K* to this field satisfying the following three properties: first, *D* is an *n*-linear function: considering all but one column of *A* fixed, the determinant is linear in the remaining column, that is

for any column vectors *v*_{1}, ..., *v*_{n}, and *w* and any scalars (elements of *K*) *a* and *b*. Second, *D* is an alternating function: for any matrix *A* with two identical columns *D*(*A*) = 0. Finally, *D*(*I*_{n}) = 1. Here *I*_{n} is the identity matrix.

This fact also implies that every other *n*-linear alternating function *F*: *M*_{n}(*K*) → *K* satisfies

The last part in fact follows from the preceding statement: one easily sees that if *F* is nonzero it satisfies *F*(*I*) ≠ 0, and function that associates *F*(*M*)/*F*(*I*) to *M* satisfies all conditions of the theorem. The importance of stating this part is mainly that it remains valid^{[10]} if *K* is any commutative ring rather than a field, in which case the given argument does not apply.

The determinant of a linear transformation *A* : *V* → *V* of an *n*-dimensional vector space *V* can be formulated in a coordinate-free manner by considering the *n*th exterior power Λ^{n}*V* of *V*. *A* induces a linear map

As Λ^{n}*V* is one-dimensional, the map Λ^{n}A is given by multiplying with some scalar. This scalar coincides with the determinant of *A*, that is to say

This definition agrees with the more concrete coordinate-dependent definition. This follows from the characterization of the determinant given above. For example, switching two columns changes the parity of the determinant; likewise, permuting the vectors in the exterior product *v*_{1} ∧ *v*_{2} ∧ ... ∧ *v*_{n} to *v*_{2} ∧ *v*_{1} ∧ *v*_{3} ∧ ... ∧ *v*_{n}, say, also alters the parity.

For this reason, the highest non-zero exterior power Λ^{n}(*V*) is sometimes also called the determinant of *V* and similarly for more involved objects such as vector bundles or chain complexes of vector spaces. Minors of a matrix can also be cast in this setting, by considering lower alternating forms Λ^{k}*V* with *k* < n.

The determinant of a matrix can be defined, for example using the Leibniz formula, for matrices with entries in any commutative ring. Briefly, a ring is a structure where addition, subtraction, and multiplication are defined. The commutativity requirement means that the product does not depend on the order of the two factors, i.e.,

is supposed to hold for all elements *r* and *s* of the ring. For example, the integers form a commutative ring.

Many^{[clarification needed]} of the above statements and notions carry over mutatis mutandis to determinants of these more general matrices: the determinant is multiplicative in this more general situation, and Cramer's rule also holds. A square matrix over a commutative ring *R* is invertible if and only if its determinant is a unit in *R*, that is, an element having a (multiplicative) inverse. (If *R* is a field, this latter condition is equivalent to the determinant being nonzero, thus giving back the above characterization.) For example, a matrix *A* with entries in **Z**, the integers, is invertible (in the sense that the inverse matrix has again integer entries) if the determinant is +1 or −1. Such a matrix is called unimodular.

The determinant defines a mapping

between the group of invertible *n* × *n* matrices with entries in *R* and the multiplicative group of units in *R*. Since it respects the multiplication in both groups, this map is a group homomorphism. Secondly, given a ring homomorphism *f*: *R* → *S*, there is a map GL_{n}(*R*) → GL_{n}(*S*) given by replacing all entries in *R* by their images under *f*. The determinant respects these maps, i.e., given a matrix *A* = (*a*_{i,j}) with entries in *R*, the identity

holds. For example, the determinant of the complex conjugate of a complex matrix (which is also the determinant of its conjugate transpose) is the complex conjugate of its determinant, and for integer matrices: the reduction modulo *m* of the determinant of such a matrix is equal to the determinant of the matrix reduced modulo *m* (the latter determinant being computed using modular arithmetic). In the more high-brow parlance of category theory, the determinant is a natural transformation between the two functors GL_{n} and (⋅)^{×}.^{[11]} Adding yet another layer of abstraction, this is captured by saying that the determinant is a morphism of algebraic groups, from the general linear group to the multiplicative group,

For matrices with an infinite number of rows and columns, the above definitions of the determinant do not carry over directly. For example, in Leibniz' formula, an infinite sum (all of whose terms are infinite products) would have to be calculated. Functional analysis provides different extensions of the determinant for such infinite-dimensional situations, which however only work for particular kinds of operators.

The Fredholm determinant defines the determinant for operators known as trace class operators by an appropriate generalization of the formula

Another infinite-dimensional notion of determinant is the functional determinant.

For square matrices with entries in a non-commutative ring, there are various difficulties in defining determinants in a manner analogous to that for commutative rings. A meaning can be given to the Leibniz formula provided the order for the product is specified, and similarly for other ways to define the determinant, but non-commutativity then leads to the loss of many fundamental properties of the determinant, for instance the multiplicative property or the fact that the determinant is unchanged under transposition of the matrix. Over non-commutative rings, there is no reasonable notion of a multilinear form (if a bilinear form exists with a regular element of *R* as value on some pair of arguments, it can be used to show that all elements of *R* commute). Nevertheless various notions of non-commutative determinant have been formulated, which preserve some of the properties of determinants, notably quasideterminants and the Dieudonné determinant. It should also be noted that if one considers certain specific classes of matrices with non-commutative elements, then there are examples where one can define the determinant and prove linear algebra theorems which are very similar to their commutative analogs. Examples include: quantum groups and *q*-determinant; Capelli matrix and Capelli determinant; super-matrices and Berezinian; Manin matrices is the class of matrices which is most close to matrices with commutative elements.

Determinants of matrices in superrings (that is, **Z**_{2}-graded rings) are known as Berezinians or superdeterminants.^{[12]}

The permanent of a matrix is defined as the determinant, except that the factors sgn(σ) occurring in Leibniz' rule are omitted. The immanant generalizes both by introducing a character of the symmetric group S_{n} in Leibniz' rule.

Determinants are mainly used as a theoretical tool. They are rarely calculated explicitly in numerical linear algebra, where for applications like checking invertibility and finding eigenvalues the determinant has largely been supplanted by other techniques.^{[13]} Nonetheless, explicitly calculating determinants is required in some situations, and different methods are available to do so.

Naive methods of implementing an algorithm to compute the determinant include using Leibniz' formula or Laplace's formula. Both these approaches are extremely inefficient for large matrices, though, since the number of required operations grows very quickly: it is of order *n*! (*n* factorial) for an *n* × *n* matrix *M*. For example, Leibniz' formula requires to calculate *n*! products. Therefore, more involved techniques have been developed for calculating determinants.

Given a matrix *A*, some methods compute its determinant by writing *A* as a product of matrices whose determinants can be more easily computed. Such techniques are referred to as decomposition methods. Examples include the LU decomposition, the QR decomposition or the Cholesky decomposition (for positive definite matrices). These methods are of order O(*n*^{3}), which is a significant improvement over O(*n*!)

The LU decomposition expresses *A* in terms of a lower triangular matrix *L*, an upper triangular matrix *U* and a permutation matrix *P*:

The determinants of *L* and *U* can be quickly calculated, since they are the products of the respective diagonal entries. The determinant of *P* is just the sign of the corresponding permutation (which is +1 for an even number of permutations and is −1 for an uneven number of permutations). The determinant of *A* is then

Moreover, the decomposition can be chosen such that *L* is a unitriangular matrix and therefore has determinant 1, in which case the formula further simplifies to

If the determinant of *A* and the inverse of *A* have already been computed, the matrix determinant lemma allows to quickly calculate the determinant of *A* + *uv*^{T}, where *u* and *v* are column vectors.

Since the definition of the determinant does not need divisions, a question arises: do fast algorithms exist that do not need divisions? This is especially interesting for matrices over rings. Indeed algorithms with run-time proportional to *n*^{4} exist. An algorithm of Mahajan and Vinay, and Berkowitz^{[14]} is based on closed ordered walks (short *clow*). It computes more products than the determinant definition requires, but some of these products cancel and the sum of these products can be computed more efficiently. The final algorithm looks very much like an iterated product of triangular matrices.

If two matrices of order *n* can be multiplied in time *M*(*n*), where *M*(*n*) ≥ *n*^{a} for some *a* > 2, then the determinant can be computed in time O(*M*(*n*)).^{[15]} This means, for example, that an O(*n*^{2.376}) algorithm exists based on the Coppersmith–Winograd algorithm.

Algorithms can also be assessed according to their bit complexity, i.e., how many bits of accuracy are needed to store intermediate values occurring in the computation. For example, the Gaussian elimination (or LU decomposition) methods is of order O(*n*^{3}), but the bit length of intermediate values can become exponentially long.^{[16]} The Bareiss Algorithm, on the other hand, is an exact-division method based on Sylvester's identity is also of order *n*^{3}, but the bit complexity is roughly the bit size of the original entries in the matrix times *n*.^{[17]}

Historically, determinants were considered without reference to matrices: originally, a determinant was defined as a property of a system of linear equations. The determinant "determines" whether the system has a unique solution (which occurs precisely if the determinant is non-zero). In this sense, determinants were first used in the Chinese mathematics textbook *The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art* (九章算術, Chinese scholars, around the 3rd century BC). In Europe, 2 × 2 determinants were considered by Cardano at the end of the 16th century and larger ones by Leibniz.^{[18]}^{[19]}^{[20]}^{[21]}

In Europe, Cramer (1750) added to the theory, treating the subject in relation to sets of equations. The recurrence law was first announced by Bézout (1764).

It was Vandermonde (1771) who first recognized determinants as independent functions.^{[18]} Laplace (1772) ^{[22]}^{[23]} gave the general method of expanding a determinant in terms of its complementary minors: Vandermonde had already given a special case. Immediately following, Lagrange (1773) treated determinants of the second and third order. Lagrange was the first to apply determinants to questions of elimination theory; he proved many special cases of general identities.

Gauss (1801) made the next advance. Like Lagrange, he made much use of determinants in the theory of numbers. He introduced the word * determinant* (Laplace had used

The next contributor of importance is Binet (1811, 1812), who formally stated the theorem relating to the product of two matrices of *m* columns and *n* rows, which for the special case of *m* = *n* reduces to the multiplication theorem. On the same day (November 30, 1812) that Binet presented his paper to the Academy, Cauchy also presented one on the subject. (See Cauchy–Binet formula.) In this he used the word * determinant* in its present sense,

The next important figure was Jacobi^{[19]} (from 1827). He early used the functional determinant which Sylvester later called the Jacobian, and in his memoirs in *Crelle* for 1841 he specially treats this subject, as well as the class of alternating functions which Sylvester has called *alternants*. About the time of Jacobi's last memoirs, Sylvester (1839) and Cayley began their work.^{[27]}^{[28]}

The study of special forms of determinants has been the natural result of the completion of the general theory. Axisymmetric determinants have been studied by Lebesgue, Hesse, and Sylvester; persymmetric determinants by Sylvester and Hankel; circulants by Catalan, Spottiswoode, Glaisher, and Scott; skew determinants and Pfaffians, in connection with the theory of orthogonal transformation, by Cayley; continuants by Sylvester; Wronskians (so called by Muir) by Christoffel and Frobenius; compound determinants by Sylvester, Reiss, and Picquet; Jacobians and Hessians by Sylvester; and symmetric gauche determinants by Trudi. Of the textbooks on the subject Spottiswoode's was the first. In America, Hanus (1886), Weld (1893), and Muir/Metzler (1933) published treatises.

As mentioned above, the determinant of a matrix (with real or complex entries, say) is zero if and only if the column vectors of the matrix are linearly dependent. Thus, determinants can be used to characterize linearly dependent vectors. For example, given two linearly independent vectors *v*_{1}, *v*_{2} in **R**^{3}, a third vector *v*_{3} lies in the plane spanned by the former two vectors exactly if the determinant of the 3 × 3 matrix consisting of the three vectors is zero. The same idea is also used in the theory of differential equations: given *n* functions *f*_{1}(*x*), ..., *f*_{n}(*x*) (supposed to be *n*−1 times differentiable), the Wronskian is defined to be

It is non-zero (for some *x*) in a specified interval if and only if the given functions and all their derivatives up to order *n*−1 are linearly independent. If it can be shown that the Wronskian is zero everywhere on an interval then, in the case of analytic functions, this implies the given functions are linearly dependent. See the Wronskian and linear independence.

Main article: Orientation (vector space)

The determinant can be thought of as assigning a number to every sequence of *n* vectors in **R**^{n}, by using the square matrix whose columns are the given vectors. For instance, an orthogonal matrix with entries in **R**^{n} represents an orthonormal basis in Euclidean space. The determinant of such a matrix determines whether the orientation of the basis is consistent with or opposite to the orientation of the standard basis. If the determinant is +1, the basis has the same orientation. If it is −1, the basis has the opposite orientation.

More generally, if the determinant of *A* is positive, *A* represents an orientation-preserving linear transformation (if *A* is an orthogonal 2×2 or 3 × 3 matrix, this is a rotation), while if it is negative, *A* switches the orientation of the basis.

As pointed out above, the absolute value of the determinant of real vectors is equal to the volume of the parallelepiped spanned by those vectors. As a consequence, if *f*: **R**^{n} → **R**^{n} is the linear map represented by the matrix *A*, and *S* is any measurable subset of **R**^{n}, then the volume of *f*(*S*) is given by |det(*A*)| times the volume of *S*. More generally, if the linear map *f*: **R**^{n} → **R**^{m} is represented by the *m* × *n* matrix *A*, then the *n*-dimensional volume of *f*(*S*) is given by:

By calculating the volume of the tetrahedron bounded by four points, they can be used to identify skew lines. The volume of any tetrahedron, given its vertices **a**, **b**, **c**, and **d**, is (1/6)·|det(**a** − **b**, **b** − **c**, **c** − **d**)|, or any other combination of pairs of vertices that would form a spanning tree over the vertices.

For a general differentiable function, much of the above carries over by considering the Jacobian matrix of *f*. For

the Jacobian is the *n* × *n* matrix whose entries are given by

Its determinant, the Jacobian determinant appears in the higher-dimensional version of integration by substitution: for suitable functions *f* and an open subset *U* of **R'**^{n} (the domain of *f*), the integral over *f*(*U*) of some other function φ: **R**^{n} → **R**^{m} is given by

The Jacobian also occurs in the inverse function theorem.

Main article: Vandermonde matrix

Third order

In general, the *n*th-order Vandermonde determinant is ^{[29]}

where the right-hand side is the continued product of all the differences that can be formed from the *n*(*n*−1)/2 pairs of numbers taken from *x*_{1}, *x*_{2}, ..., *x*_{n}, with the order of the differences taken in the reversed order of the suffixes that are involved.

Main article: Circulant matrix

Second order

Third order

where ω and ω^{2} are the complex cube roots of 1. In general, the *n*th-order circulant determinant is^{[29]}

where ω_{j} is an *n*th root of 1.

- Dieudonné determinant
- Functional determinant
- Immanant
- Matrix determinant lemma
- Permanent
- Pfaffian
- Slater determinant

**^**Poole, David (2006),*Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction*, Thomson Brooks/Cole, p. 262, ISBN 0-534-99845-3**^**Serge Lang,*Linear Algebra*, 2nd Edition, Addison-Wesley, 1971, pp 173, 191.**^**WildLinAlg episode 4, Norman J Wildberger, Univ. of New South Wales, 2010, lecture via youtube**^**In a non-commutative setting left-linearity (compatibility with left-multiplication by scalars) should be distinguished from right-linearity. Assuming linearity in the columns is taken to be left-linearity, one would have, for non-commuting scalars*a*,*b*:**^**Proofs can be found in http://www.ee.ic.ac.uk/hp/staff/dmb/matrix/proof003.html**^**A proof can be found in the Appendix B of L. A. Kondratyuk, M. I. Krivoruchenko (1992),*Zeitschrift für Physik A***344**, 99-115. doi:10.1007/BF01291027**^**Ken Habgood, Itamar Arel,*A condensation-based application of Cramerʼs rule for solving large-scale linear systems*, Journal of Discrete Algorithms, 10 (2012), pp. 98–109. Available online 1 July 2011, ISSN 1570–8667, 10.1016/j.jda.2011.06.007.**^**These identities were taken from http://www.ee.ic.ac.uk/hp/staff/dmb/matrix/proof003.html**^**Proofs are given in J.R. Silvester, Determinants of Block Matrices, Math. Gazette, 84 (2000), pp. 460–467, available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3620776**^**Roger Godement,*Cours d'Algèbre*, seconde édition, Hermann (1966), §23, Théorème 5, p. 303**^**Mac Lane, Saunders (1998),*Categories for the Working Mathematician*, Graduate Texts in Mathematics**5**((2nd ed.) ed.), Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-387-98403-8**^**Varadarajan, V. S (2004),*Supersymmetry for mathematicians: An introduction*, ISBN 978-0-8218-3574-6.**^**L. N. Trefethen and D. Bau,*Numerical Linear Algebra*(SIAM, 1997). e.g. in Lecture 1: "... we mention that the determinant, though a convenient notion theoretically, rarely finds a useful role in numerical algorithms."**^**http://page.inf.fu-berlin.de/~rote/Papers/pdf/Division-free+algorithms.pdf**^**J.R. Bunch and J.E. Hopcroft, Triangular factorization and inversion by fast matrix multiplication,*Mathematics of Computation*, 28 (1974) 231–236.**^**Fang, Xin Gui; Havas, George (1997). "On the worst-case complexity of integer Gaussian elimination".*Proceedings of the 1997 international symposium on Symbolic and algebraic computation*. ISSAC '97. Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, United States: ACM. pp. 28–31. doi:10.1145/258726.258740. ISBN 0-89791-875-4.**^**Bareiss, Erwin (1968), "Sylvester's Identity and Multistep Integer-Preserving Gaussian Elimination",*Mathematics of computation***22**(102): 565–578- ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}Campbell, H: "Linear Algebra With Applications", pages 111–112. Appleton Century Crofts, 1971 - ^
^{a}^{b}Eves, H: "An Introduction to the History of Mathematics", pages 405, 493–494, Saunders College Publishing, 1990. **^**A Brief History of Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory : http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~vitulli/441.sp04/LinAlgHistory.html**^**Cajori, F.*A History of Mathematics*p. 80**^**Expansion of determinants in terms of minors: Laplace, Pierre-Simon (de) "Researches sur le calcul intégral et sur le systéme du monde,"*Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences*(Paris), seconde partie, pages 267–376 (1772).**^**Muir, Sir Thomas,*The Theory of Determinants in the historical Order of Development*[London, England: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1906]. JFM 37.0181.02**^**The first use of the word "determinant" in the modern sense appeared in: Cauchy, Augustin-Louis “Memoire sur les fonctions qui ne peuvent obtenir que deux valeurs égales et des signes contraires par suite des transpositions operées entre les variables qu'elles renferment," which was first read at the Institute de France in Paris on November 30, 1812, and which was subsequently published in the*Journal de l'Ecole Polytechnique*, Cahier 17, Tome 10, pages 29–112 (1815).**^**Origins of mathematical terms: http://jeff560.tripod.com/d.html**^**History of matrices and determinants: http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/HistTopics/Matrices_and_determinants.html**^**The first use of vertical lines to denote a determinant appeared in: Cayley, Arthur "On a theorem in the geometry of position,"*Cambridge Mathematical Journal*, vol. 2, pages 267–271 (1841).**^**History of matrix notation: http://jeff560.tripod.com/matrices.html- ^
^{a}^{b}Gradshteyn, I. S., I. M. Ryzhik: "Table of Integrals, Series, and Products", 14.31, Elsevier, 2007.

See also: Linear algebra#Further reading

- Axler, Sheldon Jay (1997),
*Linear Algebra Done Right*(2nd ed.), Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-387-98259-0 - de Boor, Carl (1990), "An empty exercise",
*ACM SIGNUM Newsletter***25**(2): 3–7, doi:10.1145/122272.122273. - Lay, David C. (August 22, 2005),
*Linear Algebra and Its Applications*(3rd ed.), Addison Wesley, ISBN 978-0-321-28713-7 - Meyer, Carl D. (February 15, 2001),
*Matrix Analysis and Applied Linear Algebra*, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), ISBN 978-0-89871-454-8 - Muir, Thomas (1960) [1933],
*A treatise on the theory of determinants*, Revised and enlarged by William H. Metzler, New York, NY: Dover - Poole, David (2006),
*Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction*(2nd ed.), Brooks/Cole, ISBN 0-534-99845-3 - Anton, Howard (2005),
*Elementary Linear Algebra (Applications Version)*(9th ed.), Wiley International - Leon, Steven J. (2006),
*Linear Algebra With Applications*(7th ed.), Pearson Prentice Hall

The Wikibook Linear Algebra has a page on the topic of: Determinants |

- Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001), "Determinant",
*Encyclopedia of Mathematics*, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4 - Weisstein, Eric W., "Determinant",
*MathWorld*. - O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Matrices and determinants",
*MacTutor History of Mathematics archive*, University of St Andrews. - WebApp to calculate determinants and descriptively solve systems of linear equations
- Determinant Interactive Program and Tutorial
- Online Matrix Calculator
- Linear algebra: determinants. Compute determinants of matrices up to order 6 using Laplace expansion you choose.
- Matrices and Linear Algebra on the Earliest Uses Pages
- Determinants explained in an easy fashion in the 4th chapter as a part of a Linear Algebra course.
- Instructional Video on taking the determinant of an nxn matrix (Khan Academy)
- Online matrix calculator (determinant, track, inverse, adjoint, transpose) Compute determinant of matrix up to order 8
- Derivation of Determinant of a Matrix