Linear Algebra

Fall 2007
Informal Description

Here is some additional information about Linear Algebra.

  1. Linear algebra is standard topic in the college mathematics curricula. It is usually taken by students in their sophomore year. Linear Algebra is required for math, physics, engineering, statistics, and economics majors. I suspect it's required for chemistry majors, but I'm not sure. In general, anyone who works in a mathematical field will need to know linear algebra.
  2. My experience as a student was that linear algebra seemed very easy. So I didn't do much work in the class. But then it got harder quite quickly and I was lost and in a lot of trouble. As always, it's important to stay caught up, because you can get "left behind" pretty quickly in a course like this.
  3. Also, when I took linear algebra I remember thinking that the material was kinda silly and that I would never use it. However, I ended up using linear algebra in almost every math and physics class I took, and I use it in my research all the time---much more than I use calculus. Some of the applications of linear algebra might not be apparent immediately, but please believe me when I say that it is a very useful topic to know.
  4. Technically, this class is a tutorial. In practical terms, what this means for you is that a little more of the work burden falls on you than would be the case for a class. In particular, I will not have time to give detailed comments on all of your homework assignments. Instead, I will frequently ask you to check your work using the solutions manual. In most cases, though, I suspect that won't be necessary; you should work the problem until you know you have the right answer. And at this point in your mathematical careers, you are a pretty good judge of when you have the right answer or not.
  5. This class will move at a fairly brisk pace. I suspect that there will be times when you will need to read a chapter on your own and then ask questions during class if you have any. I think our textbook is pretty good, so learning a few things on your own won't be a problem. (It's also good practice for learning independently.) If we can do this, we'll be able to cover more topics, and I'll also be able to spend time presenting interesting applications of the material.
  6. This is the second time I've taught this class, and this is the first time using this text. So I'm not 100% certain how much we'll be able to cover. Your honest feedback on the pace and level of difficulty will be important.