ine@mit software and mathematics


Gaussian Elimination in Python

3x + 2y + z = 12
2x + y + 2z = 36
x + 2y + 4z = 4

Stuck trying to solve a bunch of simultaneous linear equations?

You want to use Gaussian elimination! It's generally easy to solve two or three simultaneous linear equations with a few variables, but as the number of variables grow it's nifty to have a computer solve the problem for you. Here's a cool javascript implementation which supports up to 5x5 that you can use to get an idea on how the process looks.

Here is a gaussian elimination implementation in Python, written by me from scatch for 6.01X (the advanced programming version of 6.01, MIT's intro to EECS course). I originally looked at the Wikipedia pseudocode and tried to essentially rewrite that in Python, but that was more trouble than it was worth so I just redid it from scratch. It's way simpler than a lot of the other python implementations out there (~170 lines or so). This one is roughly 15 logical lines - it's also available on Github.

def myGauss(m):
    #eliminate columns
    for col in range(len(m[0])):
        for row in range(col+1, len(m)):
            r = [(rowValue * (-(m[row][col] / m[col][col]))) for rowValue in m[col]]
            m[row] = [sum(pair) for pair in zip(m[row], r)]
    #now backsolve by substitution
    ans = []
    m.reverse() #makes it easier to backsolve
    for sol in range(len(m)):
            if sol == 0:
                ans.append(m[sol][-1] / m[sol][-2])
                inner = 0
                #substitute in all known coefficients
                for x in range(sol):
                    inner += (ans[x]*m[sol][-2-x])
                #the equation is now reduced to ax + b = c form
                #solve with (c - b) / a
    return ans


print myGauss([[S('x'),2.0,6.0],

print myGauss([[S('M') * S('x'),S('b'),S('y')],

print myGauss([[-3.0,2.0,-6.0,6.0],

print str(myGauss([[2.0,4.0,6.0,8.0,10.0,0.0],
               [5.0,-3.0,3.0,-2.0,1.0,0]])) == '[1.8835063437139565, 1.7012687427912341, -1.4160899653979238, -0.050749711649365627, -0.16695501730103807]'

print 'example from the wikipedia'
print myGauss([[2.0,1.0,-1.0,8.0],
print myGauss([[1.0,4.0,-2.0,8.0],
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