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Change of basis

Coordinate change in linear algebra / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In mathematics, an ordered basis of a vector space of finite dimension n allows representing uniquely any element of the vector space by a coordinate vector, which is a sequence of n scalars called coordinates. If two different bases are considered, the coordinate vector that represents a vector v on one basis is, in general, different from the coordinate vector that represents v on the other basis. A change of basis consists of converting every assertion expressed in terms of coordinates relative to one basis into an assertion expressed in terms of coordinates relative to the other basis.[1][2][3]

A linear combination of one basis of vectors (purple) obtains new vectors (red). If they are linearly independent, these form a new basis. The linear combinations relating the first basis to the other extend to a linear transformation, called the change of basis.
A vector represented by two different bases (purple and red arrows).

Such a conversion results from the change-of-basis formula which expresses the coordinates relative to one basis in terms of coordinates relative to the other basis. Using matrices, this formula can be written

where "old" and "new" refer respectively to the firstly defined basis and the other basis, and are the column vectors of the coordinates of the same vector on the two bases, and is the change-of-basis matrix (also called transition matrix), which is the matrix whose columns are the coordinate vectors of the new basis vectors on the old basis.

This article deals mainly with finite-dimensional vector spaces. However, many of the principles are also valid for infinite-dimensional vector spaces.