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October 18th, 2017, 12:24 PM  #1 
Senior Member Joined: Jan 2016 From: Blackpool Posts: 100 Thanks: 2  need help understanding proof
Let v1,...,vn be vectors in Rn. Then {v1,...,vn} spans Rn if and only if, for the matrix A = v1 v2 ··· vn , the linear system Ax = v is consistent for every v ∈ Rn. I understand the proof but I'm unsure with how the word "consistent" is used, does it mean v should be the same for each vector? Thanks! 
October 18th, 2017, 02:17 PM  #2 
Global Moderator Joined: May 2007 Posts: 6,627 Thanks: 622 
I suspect it means there is a unique x for each v.

October 18th, 2017, 07:28 PM  #3 
Senior Member Joined: Sep 2016 From: USA Posts: 502 Thanks: 280 Math Focus: Dynamical systems, analytic function theory, numerics  There is no need to impose uniqueness. Consistent means simply that the equation has a solution. Of course, as a consequence you can additionally prove uniqueness but this is not necessary to prove directly nor does the definition of consistency require it. The main idea is that if there exists some $v$ such that $Ax = v$ can't be solved, then this is equivalent to saying that $v$ is not in the image of $A$. This of course is equivalent to saying that $v$ is not in the span of the columns of $A$ implying that $A$ is not full rank. 

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