In linear algebra, the determinant is a value that can be computed from the elements of a square matrix. The determinant of a matrix A is denoted det(A), det A, or |A|. Geometrically, it can be viewed as the scaling factor of the linear transformation described by the matrix.

Determinants occur throughout mathematics. For example, a matrix is often used to represent the coefficients in a system of linear equations, and the determinant can be used to solve those equations, although other methods of solution are much more computationally efficient. In linear algebra, a matrix (with entries in a field) is invertible if and only if its determinant is non-zero, and correspondingly the matrix is singular if and only if its determinant is zero.

This leads to the use of determinants in defining the characteristic polynomial of a matrix, whose roots are the eigenvalues. In analytic geometry, determinants express the signed n-dimensional volumes of n-dimensional parallelepipeds. This leads to the use of determinants in calculus, the Jacobian determinant in the change of variables rule for integrals of functions of several variables. Determinants appear frequently in algebraic identities such as the Vandermonde identity.

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