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"Shutting up like a telescope": Lewis Carroll's "Curious Condensation Method for Evaluating Determinants"

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Abstract:

Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) discovered a "curious" method for computing determinants. It is an iterative process that uses determinants of 2 × 2 submatrices of a matrix to obtain a smaller matrix. When the process ends, the result is the determinant of the original matrix. This article discusses both the algorithm and what may have led Dodgson to it.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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maa/cmj/2007/00000038/00000002/art00003
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