I will be teaching Linear Algebra next semester and so I now have two copies of the same textbook with me. When I learnt the subject, we used the 7th edition, this time round, I will be teaching from the 8th edition. Frankly, I don’t see any difference in the two. (The latest news is that the 9th edition will be released this year.)

This edited picture sums up my feelings exactly. It’s taken from this link.

*Disclaimer:* I have not seen that particular calculus textbook and have nothing against the authors whatsoever.

Back to my linear algebra text, which had a new edition published about every 4 years. Now, let’s recall what wonderful breakthrough in the field of linear algebra has occurred over the past 25 years that required the author to keep up to date. Did I hear *nothing*? Mr Schmidt of Gram-Schmidt died in 1959.

I don’t want to defend them, but they probably make a new edition (correcting errors etc) each time when the current version is out of print.

On the last paragraph, I think that linear algebra is quite a fascinating – and active – subject. For example, did you hear about quivers? (that’s an other question that this type of stuff is not included in those textbooks

Thanks for dropping by.

I think I’m being imprecise. I’m sure there are many new results in linear algebra over the years, but none are incorporated into the textbooks that I was referring to.

On the other hand, if the author added new sections on google’s pagerank and eigenvalues, and other new stuff that students would relate to, it would be worthwhile to get the students to buy the new edition.

As far as I understand, a new edition should mean a change in content and not just error correction. Take Serre’s A Course in Arithmetic – if you check the springer website, it is in its 5th printing but still first edition. Which means you could still use your 1973 copy if you are good at spotting typos.

I think I read about quivers in the Notices of AMS, but I don’t know much about it.

I always thought that math and physics professor were a part of the vast conspiracy to separate students from money.

There is never a good reason for every year, the professors to assign the new edition of the very same textbook when last years edition will do.

Truth be told, aside from the minor corrections e.g. typos, new editions usually are the same previous edition but the problem sets re-arranged. What was problem #18 in the 5th edition is not problem #22 and the number is changed from ’5′ to ’3′.

Fine, but still, can we not still use the 3rd edition of Stewart instead of the costly 5th edition which will be replaced by the 6th edition.

Today, textbooks have the same lifespan as computers. Obsolete by the time the student returns home with the new edition.

What really gets my goat is this.

In 1999, my copy of 3rd edition baby-Rudin cost $54. In 2003, it cost $99. Now it cost $130.

What gives?