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Row Reduction Microworld - Editorial Review

Dan Kalman

Do you need a simple row reduction calculator to investigate properties of systems of equations or matrices over the rationals? Kalman's Row Reduction Microworld offers a straightforward solution that can be used directly in Internet Explorer or downloaded onto off-line Windows machines. A starting matrix can be easily edited or randomly generated, and the elementary row operations (exchanging rows, multiplying a row by a scalar, or adding a multiple of one row to another) are as easy as "fill in the number" and click "Go." A particularly nice feature is the quick augmentation of an appropriate size identity matrix so that students can explore the process of finding an inverse matrix using row reduction. This module is based on Mathwright Microworld technology. To use it, one must first download and install the MathwrightWeb ActiveX Control (which is available for free) for Internet Explorer. There is also a stand-alone (Windows only) version available on the site. As presented, this mathlet is useful for classroom demonstration and for lab work with the instructor around for answering questions. Note that students are expected to already be familiar with the concept of row reduction of matrices, and then this tool can be used as a "calculator" to speed up the process and get at more meaningful issues.

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Dan Kalman, "Row Reduction Microworld - Editorial Review," Loci (June 2004)