I'm teaching axiomatic linear algebra again this semester. Although the textbooks I'm using do everything over the real or complex numbers, for various reasons I prefer to work over an arbitrary field when possible. I always introduce at least $\mathbb{F}_2$ as an example of a finite field. To help motivate this level of generality, I'd like to cover some application of linear algebra over finite fields. Ideally it shouldn't make explicit reference to linear algebra or finite fields in its setup, and should require as little background as possible (the students have taken calculus, but not necessarily any other advanced math — in particular applications to group theory are out). I've looked around a little, but haven't found anything so far that requires little enough overhead to fit into a single 50-minute lecture and wouldn't seem either too abstract or too arbitrary to motivate such students. Any suggestions?

Alternatively, I'd be interested in elementary applications of linear algebra over any other field which isn't a subfield of $\mathbb{C}$.

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