College Mathematics

TIFR 2015 Problem 3 Solution – Trace of Product of Matrix

TIFR 2015 Problem 3 Solution is a part of TIFR entrance preparation series. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is India’s premier institution for advanced research in Mathematics. The Institute runs a graduate programme leading to the award of Ph.D., Integrated M.Sc.-Ph.D. as well as M.Sc. degree in certain subjects.
The image is a front cover of a book named Linear Algebra Done Right by Sheldon Axler. This book is very useful for the preparation of TIFR Entrance.

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Problem Type:

Let (A) be a (10\times 10) matrix with complex entries such that all its eigenvalues are non-negative real numbers, and at least one eigenvalue is positive. Which of the following statements is always false?

A. There exists a matrix B such that (AB-BA=B)

B. There exists a matrix B such that (AB-BA=A)

C. There exists a matrix B such that (AB+BA=A)

D. There exists a matrix B such that (AB+BA=B)


We know that for two square matrix (A) and (B) of same size, (Tr(AB)=Tr(BA)) ((TrM)=Trace of (M) ).

In other words, (Tr(AB-BA)=0) for any two square matrices of the same size.

Since trace of a square matrix is also the sum of its eigenvalues, and (A) has all eigenvalues non-negative with at least one positive eigenvalue, we have (Tr(A) > 0). Taking trace of both sides of (AB-BA=A) we get a contradiction. So there does not exist any (B) such that (AB-BA=A).


Take (B=0) the 10×10 zero-matrix. Then (AB-BA=B) is satisfied. So is (AB+BA=B).

Take (B=\frac{1}{2}I), where (I) is the 10×10 identity matrix. Then (AB+BA=A) is satisfied.


  • What is this topic: Linear Algebra
  • What are some of the associated concept: Trace,Eigenvalue
  • Book Suggestions: Linear Algebra done Right by Sheldon Axler

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