A square matrix $A$ is called nilpotent if some power of $A$ is the zero matrix.
Namely, $A$ is nilpotent if there exists a positive integer $k$ such that $A^k=O$, where $O$ is the zero matrix.

Suppose that $A$ is a nilpotent matrix and let $B$ be an invertible matrix of the same size as $A$.
Is the matrix $B-A$ invertible? If so prove it. Otherwise, give a counterexample.

The following problems are Midterm 1 problems of Linear Algebra (Math 2568) at the Ohio State University in Autumn 2017.
There were 9 problems that covered Chapter 1 of our textbook (Johnson, Riess, Arnold).
The time limit was 55 minutes.

This post is Part 2 and contains Problem 4, 5, and 6.
Check out Part 1 and Part 3 for the rest of the exam problems.

Problem 4. Let
\[\mathbf{a}_1=\begin{bmatrix}
1 \\
2 \\
3
\end{bmatrix}, \mathbf{a}_2=\begin{bmatrix}
2 \\
-1 \\
4
\end{bmatrix}, \mathbf{b}=\begin{bmatrix}
0 \\
a \\
2
\end{bmatrix}.\]

Find all the values for $a$ so that the vector $\mathbf{b}$ is a linear combination of vectors $\mathbf{a}_1$ and $\mathbf{a}_2$.

Problem 5.
Find the inverse matrix of
\[A=\begin{bmatrix}
0 & 0 & 2 & 0 \\
0 &1 & 0 & 0 \\
1 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\
1 & 0 & 0 & 1
\end{bmatrix}\]
if it exists. If you think there is no inverse matrix of $A$, then give a reason.

Problem 6.
Consider the system of linear equations
\begin{align*}
3x_1+2x_2&=1\\
5x_1+3x_2&=2.
\end{align*}

(a) Find the coefficient matrix $A$ of the system.

(b) Find the inverse matrix of the coefficient matrix $A$.

(c) Using the inverse matrix of $A$, find the solution of the system.

(Linear Algebra Midterm Exam 1, the Ohio State University)

Let $I$ be the $2\times 2$ identity matrix.
Then prove that $-I$ cannot be a commutator $[A, B]:=ABA^{-1}B^{-1}$ for any $2\times 2$ matrices $A$ and $B$ with determinant $1$.

By calculating the Wronskian, determine whether the set of exponential functions
\[\{e^x, e^{2x}, e^{3x}\}\]
is linearly independent on the interval $[-1, 1]$.

The $(i, j)$ cofactor $C_{ij}$ of $A$ is defined to be
\[C_{ij}=(-1)^{ij}\det(M_{ij}),\]
where $M_{ij}$ is the $(i,j)$ minor matrix obtained from $A$ removing the $i$-th row and $j$-th column.

Then consider the $n\times n$ matrix $C=(C_{ij})$, and define the $n\times n$ matrix $\Adj(A)=C^{\trans}$.
The matrix $\Adj(A)$ is called the adjoint matrix of $A$.

When $A$ is invertible, then its inverse can be obtained by the formula

\[A^{-1}=\frac{1}{\det(A)}\Adj(A).\]

For each of the following matrices, determine whether it is invertible, and if so, then find the invertible matrix using the above formula.

Let $A$ be a singular $2\times 2$ matrix such that $\tr(A)\neq -1$ and let $I$ be the $2\times 2$ identity matrix.
Then prove that the inverse matrix of the matrix $I+A$ is given by the following formula:
\[(I+A)^{-1}=I-\frac{1}{1+\tr(A)}A.\]

Using the formula, calculate the inverse matrix of $\begin{bmatrix}
2 & 1\\
1& 2
\end{bmatrix}$.

Determine whether there exists a nonsingular matrix $A$ if
\[A^4=ABA^2+2A^3,\]
where $B$ is the following matrix.
\[B=\begin{bmatrix}
-1 & 1 & -1 \\
0 &-1 &0 \\
2 & 1 & -4
\end{bmatrix}.\]

If such a nonsingular matrix $A$ exists, find the inverse matrix $A^{-1}$.

(The Ohio State University, Linear Algebra Final Exam Problem)

Determine the values of $x$ so that the matrix
\[A=\begin{bmatrix}
1 & 1 & x \\
1 &x &x \\
x & x & x
\end{bmatrix}\]
is invertible.
For those values of $x$, find the inverse matrix $A^{-1}$.