Asked • 05/02/19

Must eigenvalues be numbers?

This is more a conceptual question than any other kind. As far as I know, one can define matrices over arbitrary fields, and so do linear algebra in different settings than in the typical freshman-year course. Now, how does the concept of eigenvalues translate when doing so? Of course, a matrix need not have any eigenvalues in a given field, that I know. But do the eigenvalues need to be numbers? There are examples of fields such as that of the rational functions. If we have a matrix over that field, can we have rational functions as eigenvalues?

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