Jacobi's formula

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In matrix calculus, Jacobi's formula expresses the derivative of the determinant of a matrix A in terms of the adjugate of A and the derivative of A.[1] If A is a differentiable map from the real numbers to n × n matrices,

where tr(X) is the trace of the matrix X. As a special case,

Equivalently, if dA stands for the differential of A, the general formula is

It is named after the mathematician Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi.


We first prove a preliminary lemma:

Lemma. Let A and B be a pair of square matrices of the same dimension n. Then

Proof. The product AB of the pair of matrices has components

Replacing the matrix A by its transpose AT is equivalent to permuting the indices of its components:

The result follows by taking the trace of both sides:

Theorem. (Jacobi's formula) For any differentiable map A from the real numbers to n × n matrices,

Proof. Laplace's formula for the determinant of a matrix A can be stated as

Notice that the summation is performed over some arbitrary row i of the matrix.

The determinant of A can be considered to be a function of the elements of A:

so that, by the chain rule, its differential is

This summation is performed over all n×n elements of the matrix.

To find ∂F/∂Aij consider that on the right hand side of Laplace's formula, the index i can be chosen at will. (In order to optimize calculations: Any other choice would eventually yield the same result, but it could be much harder). In particular, it can be chosen to match the first index of ∂ / ∂Aij:

Thus, by the product rule,

Now, if an element of a matrix Aij and a cofactor adjT(A)ik of element Aik lie on the same row (or column), then the cofactor will not be a function of Aij, because the cofactor of Aik is expressed in terms of elements not in its own row (nor column). Thus,


All the elements of A are independent of each other, i.e.

where δ is the Kronecker delta, so


and applying the Lemma yields


The following is a useful relation connecting the trace to the determinant of the associated matrix exponential,

This statement is clear for diagonal matrices, and a proof of the general claim follows.

For any invertible matrix A, the inverse A−1 is related to the adjugate by

It follows that if A(t) is invertible for all t, then

which can be alternatively written as

Considering A(t) = exp(tB) in the first equation yields

The desired result follows as the solution to this ordinary differential equation.


  1. ^ Magnus & Neudecker (1999), Part Three, Section 8.3