No/Infinitely Many Square Roots of 2 by 2 Matrices

Square Roots of a Matrix Problems and Solutions

Problem 512

(a) Prove that the matrix $A=\begin{bmatrix}
0 & 1\\
0& 0
\end{bmatrix}$ does not have a square root.
Namely, show that there is no complex matrix $B$ such that $B^2=A$.

(b) Prove that the $2\times 2$ identity matrix $I$ has infinitely many distinct square root matrices.

 
FavoriteLoadingAdd to solve later

Sponsored Links

Proof.

(a) The matrix $A$ does not have a square root.

Let $B=\begin{bmatrix}
a & b\\
c& d
\end{bmatrix}$ be the matrix such that $B^2=A$.
Since
\begin{align*}
B^2=\begin{bmatrix}
a & b\\
c& d
\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}
a & b\\
c& d
\end{bmatrix}
=\begin{bmatrix}
a^2+bc & ab+bd\\
ca+dc & cb+d^2
\end{bmatrix}
=\begin{bmatrix}
a^2+bc & (a+d)b\\
(a+d)c & cb+d^2
\end{bmatrix},
\end{align*}
it follows from $B^2=A$ that
\[\begin{bmatrix}
a^2+bc & (a+d)b\\
(a+d)c & cb+d^2
\end{bmatrix}=\begin{bmatrix}
0 & 1\\
0& 0
\end{bmatrix}.\]

Comparing entries we obtain four equations
\begin{align*}
a^2+bc&=0 \tag{1}\\
(a+d)b&=1\tag{2}\\
(a+d)c&=0\tag{3}\\
cb+d^2&=0.\tag{4}
\end{align*}

Equation (3) gives $a+d=0$ or $c=0$.
If $a+d=0$, then equation (2) becomes $0=1$. This is impossible and thus $c=0$.
Since $c=0$, equations (1) and (4) yield that $a=d=0$.
However, inserting these into (2) gives $0=1$.
Hence there is no solution satisfying these equations.

Therefore, there is no square root of the matrix $A$.

(b) The identity matrix has infinitely many square roots

Let
\[B=\begin{bmatrix}
1 & r\\
0& -1
\end{bmatrix},\] where $r$ be an arbitrary real numbers.

Then we compute directly and obtain
\begin{align*}
B^2=\begin{bmatrix}
1 & r\\
0& -1
\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}
1 & r\\
0& -1
\end{bmatrix}=\begin{bmatrix}
1 & 0\\
0& 1
\end{bmatrix}=I.
\end{align*}

Hence $B$ is a square root of the identity matrix $I$.
Since $r$ is an arbitrary real numbers, there are infinitely many square roots of $I$.

Related Question.

Problem.
Prove that a positive definite matrix has a unique positive definite square root.

For a solution of this problem, see the post
A Positive Definite Matrix Has a Unique Positive Definite Square Root


FavoriteLoadingAdd to solve later

Sponsored Links

More from my site

  • Find All the Square Roots of a Given 2 by 2 MatrixFind All the Square Roots of a Given 2 by 2 Matrix Let $A$ be a square matrix. A matrix $B$ satisfying $B^2=A$ is call a square root of $A$. Find all the square roots of the matrix \[A=\begin{bmatrix} 2 & 2\\ 2& 2 \end{bmatrix}.\]   Proof. Diagonalize $A$. We first diagonalize the matrix […]
  • A Positive Definite Matrix Has a Unique Positive Definite Square RootA Positive Definite Matrix Has a Unique Positive Definite Square Root Prove that a positive definite matrix has a unique positive definite square root.   In this post, we review several definitions (a square root of a matrix, a positive definite matrix) and solve the above problem. After the proof, several extra problems about square […]
  • Square Root of an Upper Triangular Matrix. How Many Square Roots Exist?Square Root of an Upper Triangular Matrix. How Many Square Roots Exist? Find a square root of the matrix \[A=\begin{bmatrix} 1 & 3 & -3 \\ 0 &4 &5 \\ 0 & 0 & 9 \end{bmatrix}.\] How many square roots does this matrix have? (University of California, Berkeley Qualifying Exam)   Proof. We will find all matrices $B$ such that […]
  • Matrix $XY-YX$ Never Be the Identity MatrixMatrix $XY-YX$ Never Be the Identity Matrix Let $I$ be the $n\times n$ identity matrix, where $n$ is a positive integer. Prove that there are no $n\times n$ matrices $X$ and $Y$ such that \[XY-YX=I.\]   Hint. Suppose that such matrices exist and consider the trace of the matrix $XY-YX$. Recall that the trace of […]
  • Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors of Matrix Whose Diagonal Entries are 3 and 9 ElsewhereEigenvalues and Eigenvectors of Matrix Whose Diagonal Entries are 3 and 9 Elsewhere Find all the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the matrix \[A=\begin{bmatrix} 3 & 9 & 9 & 9 \\ 9 &3 & 9 & 9 \\ 9 & 9 & 3 & 9 \\ 9 & 9 & 9 & 3 \end{bmatrix}.\] (Harvard University, Linear Algebra Final Exam Problem)   Hint. Instead of […]
  • Inverse Matrix Contains Only Integers if and only if the Determinant is $\pm 1$Inverse Matrix Contains Only Integers if and only if the Determinant is $\pm 1$ Let $A$ be an $n\times n$ nonsingular matrix with integer entries. Prove that the inverse matrix $A^{-1}$ contains only integer entries if and only if $\det(A)=\pm 1$.   Hint. If $B$ is a square matrix whose entries are integers, then the […]
  • A Condition that a Linear System has Nontrivial SolutionsA Condition that a Linear System has Nontrivial Solutions For what value(s) of $a$ does the system have nontrivial solutions? \begin{align*} &x_1+2x_2+x_3=0\\ &-x_1-x_2+x_3=0\\ & 3x_1+4x_2+ax_3=0. \end{align*}   Solution. First note that the system is homogeneous and hence it is consistent. Thus if the system has a nontrivial […]
  • Diagonalizable Matrix with Eigenvalue 1, -1Diagonalizable Matrix with Eigenvalue 1, -1 Suppose that $A$ is a diagonalizable $n\times n$ matrix and has only $1$ and $-1$ as eigenvalues. Show that $A^2=I_n$, where $I_n$ is the $n\times n$ identity matrix. (Stanford University exam) See below for a generalized problem. Hint. Diagonalize the matrix $A$ so […]

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Linear Algebra
How to Prove a Matrix is Nonsingular in 10 Seconds!!
How to Prove a Matrix is Nonsingular in 10 Seconds

Using the numbers appearing in \[\pi=3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749\dots\] we construct the matrix \[A=\begin{bmatrix} 3 & 14 &1592& 65358\\ 97932& 38462643& 38& 32\\...

Close