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Motivating the concept of eigenvectors via cryptography

Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA , Volume 27 (2) – Jun 1, 2008


Oxford University Press
Copyright © 2008 Oxford University Press
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Motivating the concept of eigenvectors via cryptography


New methods of teaching linear algebra in the undergraduate curriculum have attracted much interest lately. Most of this work is focused on evaluating and discussing the integration of special computer software into the Linear Algebra curriculum. In this article, I discuss my approach on introducing the concept of eigenvectors and eigenvalues, which I have used for the last 3 years in my Linear Algebra course. I offer some examples on how I have attracted the interest of our students via Hill ciphering, a method of cryptography. After emphasizing the effect of a linear transformation in a vector space and the importance of eigenvectors, I show how students’ motivation and understanding towards one of the abstract concepts in Linear Algebra; eigenvalues and eigenvectors have grown positively.
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