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In this section, you will:
  • Solve systems of three equations in three variables.
  • Identify inconsistent systems of equations containing three variables.
  • Express the solution of a system of dependent equations containing three variables.
(credit: “Elembis,” Wikimedia Commons)

John received an inheritance of $12,000 that he divided into three parts and invested in three ways: in a money-market fund paying 3% annual interest; in municipal bonds paying 4% annual interest; and in mutual funds paying 7% annual interest. John invested $4,000 more in municipal funds than in municipal bonds. He earned $670 in interest the first year. How much did John invest in each type of fund?

Understanding the correct approach to setting up problems such as this one makes finding a solution a matter of following a pattern. We will solve this and similar problems involving three equations and three variables in this section. Doing so uses similar techniques as those used to solve systems of two equations in two variables. However, finding solutions to systems of three equations requires a bit more organization and a touch of visual gymnastics.

Solving systems of three equations in three variables

In order to solve systems of equations in three variables, known as three-by-three systems, the primary tool we will be using is called Gaussian elimination , named after the prolific German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss . While there is no definitive order in which operations are to be performed, there are specific guidelines as to what type of moves can be made. We may number the equations to keep track of the steps we apply. The goal is to eliminate one variable at a time to achieve upper triangular form , the ideal form for a three-by-three system because it allows for straightforward back-substitution to find a solution ( x , y , z ) , which we call an ordered triple . A system in upper triangular form looks like the following:

A x + B y + C z = D           E y + F z = G                   H z = K

The third equation can be solved for z , and then we back-substitute to find y and x . To write the system in upper triangular form, we can perform the following operations:

  1. Interchange the order of any two equations.
  2. Multiply both sides of an equation by a nonzero constant.
  3. Add a nonzero multiple of one equation to another equation.

The solution set to a three-by-three system is an ordered triple { ( x , y , z ) } . Graphically, the ordered triple defines the point that is the intersection of three planes in space. You can visualize such an intersection by imagining any corner in a rectangular room. A corner is defined by three planes: two adjoining walls and the floor (or ceiling). Any point where two walls and the floor meet represents the intersection of three planes.

Number of possible solutions

[link] and [link] illustrate possible solution scenarios for three-by-three systems.

  • Systems that have a single solution are those which, after elimination, result in a solution set    consisting of an ordered triple { ( x , y , z ) } . Graphically, the ordered triple defines a point that is the intersection of three planes in space.
  • Systems that have an infinite number of solutions are those which, after elimination, result in an expression that is always true, such as 0 = 0. Graphically, an infinite number of solutions represents a line or coincident plane that serves as the intersection of three planes in space.
  • Systems that have no solution are those that, after elimination, result in a statement that is a contradiction, such as 3 = 0. Graphically, a system with no solution is represented by three planes with no point in common.
(a)Three planes intersect at a single point, representing a three-by-three system with a single solution. (b) Three planes intersect in a line, representing a three-by-three system with infinite solutions.
All three figures represent three-by-three systems with no solution. (a) The three planes intersect with each other, but not at a common point. (b) Two of the planes are parallel and intersect with the third plane, but not with each other. (c) All three planes are parallel, so there is no point of intersection.

Questions & Answers

what are you up to?
Mark Reply
nothing up todat yet
Miranda
hi
jai
hello
jai
Miranda Drice
jai
aap konsi country se ho
jai
which language is that
Miranda
I am living in india
jai
good
Miranda
what is the formula for calculating algebraic
Propessor Reply
I think the formula for calculating algebraic is the statement of the equality of two expression stimulate by a set of addition, multiplication, soustraction, division, raising to a power and extraction of Root. U believe by having those in the equation you will be in measure to calculate it
Miranda
state and prove Cayley hamilton therom
sita Reply
hello
Propessor
hi
Miranda
the Cayley hamilton Theorem state if A is a square matrix and if f(x) is its characterics polynomial then f(x)=0 in another ways evey square matrix is a root of its chatacteristics polynomial.
Miranda
hi
jai
hi Miranda
jai
thanks
Propessor
welcome
jai
What is algebra
Pearl Reply
algebra is a branch of the mathematics to calculate expressions follow.
Miranda
Miranda Drice would you mind teaching me mathematics? I think you are really good at math. I'm not good at it. In fact I hate it. 😅😅😅
Jeffrey
lolll who told you I'm good at it
Miranda
something seems to wispher me to my ear that u are good at it. lol
Jeffrey
lolllll if you say so
Miranda
but seriously, Im really bad at math. And I hate it. But you see, I downloaded this app two months ago hoping to master it.
Jeffrey
which grade are you in though
Miranda
oh woww I understand
Miranda
haha. already finished college
Jeffrey
how about you? what grade are you now?
Jeffrey
I'm going to 11grade
Miranda
how come you finished in college and you don't like math though
Miranda
gotta practice, holmie
Steve
if you never use it you won't be able to appreciate it
Steve
I don't know why. But Im trying to like it.
Jeffrey
yes steve. you're right
Jeffrey
so you better
Miranda
what is the solution of the given equation?
Nelson Reply
which equation
Miranda
I dont know. lol
Jeffrey
please where is the equation
Miranda
ask nelson. lol
Jeffrey
answer and questions in exercise 11.2 sums
Yp Reply
how do u calculate inequality of irrational number?
Alaba
give me an example
Chris
and I will walk you through it
Chris
cos (-z)= cos z .
Swadesh
cos(- z)=cos z
Mustafa
what is a algebra
Jallah Reply
(x+x)3=?
Narad
6x
Obed
what is the identity of 1-cos²5x equal to?
liyemaikhaya Reply
__john __05
Kishu
Hi
Abdel
hi
Ye
hi
Nokwanda
C'est comment
Abdel
Hi
Amanda
hello
SORIE
Hiiii
Chinni
hello
Ranjay
hi
ANSHU
hiiii
Chinni
h r u friends
Chinni
yes
Hassan
so is their any Genius in mathematics here let chat guys and get to know each other's
SORIE
I speak French
Abdel
okay no problem since we gather here and get to know each other
SORIE
hi im stupid at math and just wanna join here
Yaona
lol nahhh none of us here are stupid it's just that we have Fast, Medium, and slow learner bro but we all going to work things out together
SORIE
it's 12
what is the function of sine with respect of cosine , graphically
Karl Reply
tangent bruh
Steve
cosx.cos2x.cos4x.cos8x
Aashish Reply
sinx sin2x is linearly dependent
cr Reply
what is a reciprocal
Ajibola Reply
The reciprocal of a number is 1 divided by a number. eg the reciprocal of 10 is 1/10 which is 0.1
Shemmy
 Reciprocal is a pair of numbers that, when multiplied together, equal to 1. Example; the reciprocal of 3 is ⅓, because 3 multiplied by ⅓ is equal to 1
Jeza
each term in a sequence below is five times the previous term what is the eighth term in the sequence
Funmilola Reply
I don't understand how radicals works pls
Kenny Reply
How look for the general solution of a trig function
collins Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
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