In my linear-algebra and numerics courses, I frequently heard an anecdote about some professor betting – literally, with money – that there would never be any application where computing the actual inverse of a matrix was the best option. (Obviously, some fineprint needs to be added to that bet, but that’s not pertinent here.)

Who was this and what was the actual bet? Or is it just a myth? Given that there is no shortage of myths, I only care about anything coming with a trustworthy reference.

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    $\begingroup$ And assuming it happened, what was the outcome of the bet? $\endgroup$ Sep 6 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @HansOlsson: Well, unless I am mistaken, we haven’t found any application fitting the criteria yet, i.e., “never invert a matrix” still holds. $\endgroup$
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 6 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ I would also assume so. $\endgroup$ Sep 6 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ There are arguments against inverting matrices for applications, see scicomp.stackexchange.com/questions/26423/… $\endgroup$
    – Mauricio
    Sep 6 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Can anybody elaborate to me why this got three “blatantly off-topic” close votes? $\endgroup$
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 6 at 16:43

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