## Linear algebra textbooks

December 31, 2011 § 3 Comments

On Twitter, I asked:

Sincere question: do any of you have a linear algebra introductory text that you really liked?

(Man, this blog is just going to rocket to the top of the charts, I can tell.)

Here’s what people mentioned:

- Many folks like Linear Algebra and Its Applications, by Gilbert Strang, $285. “The gold standard.” “Pretty good.” Strang is an MIT professor, and his lectures are available through the MIT OpenCourseWare site. (Thanks, @bos31337, @froydnj, and @TerryHancock1!)
- Algebra, by Michael Artin, $129. This one was recommended by @graydon2, so: 95% chance profound and beautiful; 50% chance completely beyond my depth.
- Several folks mentioned the curiously-named Linear Algebra, by Serge Lang, $77. Thanks, @nataren and @cbrozefsky!
- Dave Herman‘s uncle wrote a text on geometric intuitions for linear algebra using Maple/Mathematica! $135.
- Linear Algebra and Its Applications, by David C. Lay, $172. “… but mostly I was just relieved to finally be taking math that wasn’t calc, so.” A ringing endorsement! (Thanks, @lindsey!)

Prices are from Powell’s Books, for comparison. Powell’s prices aren’t the lowest, but I consider the physical bookstore (and especially the technical bookstore, oh my goodness) a substantial side benefit, so I try to buy from them anyway. But, wow, tutelage on the fundamental truths of the universe is not cheap. However much I love bookstores, I think I might like open-sourced textbooks even more…

But are they good for self-study, is the question, and that’s a question about the exercises.

I’m pretty sure I still have my copy of it in Mountain View, if you want to take a look at it. Poke me about it next time you pass through.

There are also a bunch of linear algebra textbooks freely available online. I distinctly remember downloading one and perusing it briefly, before taking an actual course using the Strang book. No promises about quality at all, of course.

Er, that’s “a copy of the Strang book”. Yay for over-editing of comments.