Linear Transformation

Understanding Linear Transformation

Linear transformation is a fundamental concept in mathematics, particularly within the field of linear algebra. It is a mapping between two vector spaces that preserves the operations of vector addition and scalar multiplication. In simpler terms, a linear transformation is a function that takes a vector and transforms it into another vector in a way that is consistent with the structure of the vector space.

Properties of Linear Transformations

A transformation T is considered linear if it satisfies the following two properties for all vectors u and v in the vector space, and for any scalar c:

  1. Additivity: T(u + v) = T(u) + T(v)
  2. Homogeneity: T(c * u) = c * T(u)

These properties ensure that linear transformations are predictable and consistent, making them particularly useful in various applications across mathematics and science.

Matrix Representation of Linear Transformations

One of the most powerful aspects of linear transformations is their representation using matrices. Given a linear transformation T from a vector space with dimension n to a vector space with dimension m, there exists an m x n matrix A such that for any vector x in the original space, the transformation can be computed as:

T(x) = A * x

Here, the matrix A encapsulates all the information about the transformation, and matrix multiplication is used to apply the transformation to a vector.

Examples of Linear Transformations

Common examples of linear transformations include scaling, rotations, and shearing in geometric contexts. In these cases, the transformation matrix can be used to change the size, position, or shape of geometric figures in a consistent manner.

Applications of Linear Transformations

Linear transformations are widely used in various fields such as computer graphics, where they are essential for rendering 3D objects onto a 2D screen. They are also crucial in solving systems of linear equations, which is a fundamental problem in numerous scientific and engineering disciplines.

Kernel and Image of Linear Transformations

The kernel (or null space) of a linear transformation T is the set of all vectors that T maps to the zero vector. It is a measure of the vectors that lose their identity under the transformation. The image (or range) of T, on the other hand, is the set of all vectors that can be obtained by applying T to vectors from the original space. The dimensions of the kernel and image provide important information about the transformation, such as its injectivity and surjectivity.

Linear Transformations and Change of Basis

Linear transformations are also closely related to the concept of a change of basis in a vector space. A change of basis can be viewed as a special type of linear transformation that reinterprets the coordinates of vectors with respect to a new set of basis vectors. This is particularly useful in simplifying problems or finding more convenient representations of vectors and transformations.


Linear transformations play a central role in linear algebra and have far-reaching implications in both theoretical and applied mathematics. Their ability to preserve the structure of vector spaces while enabling a wide range of manipulations makes them indispensable tools in many areas of study.

Understanding linear transformations is not only key to mastering linear algebra but also provides a foundation for more advanced mathematical concepts and techniques used in various scientific fields.

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