I have heard that Peter Lax's linear algebra book is the hardest you can find on the subject, but that it is the greatest linear algebra text in the world. But I also hear great things about Gil Strang's book.

How do I go about choosing between the two?

Here's an idea in my mind:

Choose Strang if I'm headed towards engineering mathematics, else choose Lax if I'm headed towards more theoretical, say, functional analysis.

  • $\begingroup$ "Primarily opinion based" ... one of our criteria for closing a question. $\endgroup$ – Gerald Edgar Mar 5 '19 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you restrict your choice to these two books? There are many many many textbooks on linear algebra at different levels and with different aims, some of which are very well written. $\endgroup$ – Jessica B Mar 5 '19 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ I think that maybe you could edit this question to ask for what pedagogies or emphases different linear algebra books have. $\endgroup$ – kcrisman Mar 5 '19 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Also, it's not clear whether you mean to teach from it or do self-learning. $\endgroup$ – kcrisman Mar 5 '19 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @user3813 did you read halmos too? I'm leaning towards Lax. $\endgroup$ – user12029 Mar 6 '19 at 3:33

Use the easier text. You can go back if needed and do more advanced, trickier work. But as a self studier (implied by your question), you need to make sure this is a hill you can climb. Remember Feynman was a big fan of Calculus for the Practical Man...

Actually I would advise to see if there is a text with the answers. Because for self studiers, you lack much feedback, instruction. So having the answers is very helpful in checking your drill, motivating yourself.

Even better is if you could find a text that is "programmed instruction". You get huge amounts of feedback and they are designed for self studiers. I don't know of a specific one, but do a library search.


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