Welcome to MAT 211 Introduction to Linear Algebra,

Fall 2018, Lecture 3 Syllabus

Intructor, grader, book...

Instructor: Moira Chas, office 3-119 Math Tower, e-mail: moira.chas“at”stonybrook.edu

Office hours: Monday 1:30 to 3:30 (in 3-119, Math Tower),  Wednesday 11:00-12:00 (in P-143 Math Tower), or by appointment.

Class meetings: MW, 4-5:20pm at Library  W4540

Grader:  Siqing Zhang,  siqing.zhang“at”stonybrook.edu

Grader office hours: Wed 3:00-4:00 p.m  at S-240A Math Tower,
                                  Wed 4:00-6:00 pm  in the  Math Learning Center

Textbook: Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction 4th Edition, by David Poole.

WebAssign: WebAssign homework is a required part of the course. You need to buy access to WebAssign (you can do it through Blackboard).  Pricing and other information can be found here.

Course Materials (slides, notes, etc) are here.

About this course

(From the undergraduate bulletin) Introduction to the theory of linear algebra with some applications; vectors, vector spaces, bases and dimension, applications to geometry, linear transformations and rank, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, determinants and inner products. May not be taken for credit in addition to AMS 210.

This course is an introduction to a theory which has developed around the solution of systems of linear equations. Linear algebra plays a key role in mathematics and has an enormous amount of applications  (see for instance this website). Most likely, in your daily life, you use technology that uses linear algebra.

We will cover Chapters 1 through 6 from the textbook, possibly skipping certain sections. The schedule will be updated with the progress of the course.

Exams and Grading

There will be two midterm exams (in class), and a cumulative final exam. The dates are listed below. Success on the exams will require correct and efficient solutions to the more difficult of the homework problems.

Make sure that you can attend the exams at the scheduled times; make-ups will not be given.  If one midterm exam is missed because of a serious (documented) illness or emergency, the semester grade will be determined based on the balance of the work in the course. Students attending University Sponsored Events or in need to be absent for religious holidays should contact the instructor on the first two weeks of classes to discuss an appropriate plan.

Calculators are not allowed in the exams.

Exam When and where
% of Final Grade
Midterm 1
Wed Oct 3rd
In class 20%
Midterm 2
Wed Nov 14  In class
Final Exam Thu, Dec 13th 11:15am-1:45pm 40%
Homework and Class Participation Every Wed

WebAssign Homework 10%


Homework will be assigned weekly and is due Wednesday before class. Homework is mandatory because it is an essential part of the course: It is nearly impossible to learn mathematics without working on problems
  • There will be about five problems each week
  • Each written problem is worth 5 points. Depending on the length of the assignment, only selected problems will be graded.
  • You are encouraged to study with and discuss problems with others from the class, but write up your own homework by yourself in your own words. All your collaborators and sources should be listed.
  • Under no circumstance you are allowed to browse in Internet trying to "fish" for solutions to the homework problems. Copying solutions to the homework problems from a website will be consider academic dishonesty and reported to the Academic Judiciary.

Rubric for grading problems (adapted from Emert - Parish book and  this website)

Points Solution Justification Conceptual understanding Mathematical errors
5 Complete and correct All steps are justified Apparent Minor
4 Almost complete and correct Most steps are justified A bit less than apparent A couple
3 Correct but unclear or some parts missing Some steps are justified Adequate Possibly many
2 Many parts missing or unclear. Little or deficient justification Less than adequate Possibly many
1 Incomplete No justification Lacking
0 Missing or makes no sense

    Written homework assignments can always be found HERE. WebAssign homework (and its deadlines) is on Blackboard.

  • Every homework assignment must be handed in with a header containing your name, and the assignment number. (yes, this has to be said)
  • All of the homework pages must be stapled together
  • Copy the statement of each of the problems you are solving.
  • Write solutions in the same order as the problems are assigned on the schedule.
  • All problem sets must be legible and must use complete English sentences, correct grammar and correct spelling.
  • Problem sets which prove too difficult for the grader to read may be marked incorrect or may be returned to the student for rewriting (as the instructor sees fit). We mean it!
  • All steps should be clearly justified. (This is the point of the written homework, then show your work)
  • Use  the math symbols only when needed. (yes! I mean that, mathematical arguments should be written in complete sentence.)
  • Advice: Proofread what you have written before submitting.
  • The grader will  post the grades in Blackboard.
  • All questions regarding grading of a problem set must be addressed to the grader.

A recipe to succeed  in this course

  • solve the WebAssign problems and the written ones every week.
  • solve all the problems listed in the schedule (and more if you see you need it)
  • make sure you understand how to solve the problems.
  • ask for help (to your instructor, the grader, your classmates) if you need to (do not wait to do this)
  • read the assigned material before each lecture (this is not just a pretty sentence, it is there for very good reasons)
  • attend to the lectures and be present.
  • spend between six and eight hours a week working on the course.

Remember: Math is tends to be well behaved with people who "treat her" well, that is, with people who puts time and effort in understanding. It is very rare to spend a working session on math without having understood something. We all learn at different ways and speeds, but we can all learn.

As in any math course, do not be discouraged if you find yourself struggling with a problem or a concept for hours. You will need to do computations in order to understanding the material, but do not waste time  in mindlessly memorizing techniques.

Constructive feedback to your instructor will always be welcome.

Learning objectives

  • solve systems of linear equations using Gauss-Jordan elimination;
  • perform operations (addition, multiplication, inversion) with matrices;
  • understand the idea of vector spaces, be able to recognize them, and compute their dimension;
  • decide whether a function between vector spaces is a linear transformation, or an isomorphism;
  • understand linear transformations from a geometric point of view, and decide whether a transformation is orthogonal;
  • compute the kernel and image of a linear transformation;
  • compute determinants;
  • compute eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix and use them (if possible) to diagonalize the matrix.

Student Accessibility Support Center Statement

If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Student Accessibility Support Center, ECC (Educational Communications Center) Building, Room 128, (631)632-6748. They will determine with you what accommodations, if any, are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential.

Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Student Accessibility Support Center. For procedures and information go to the following website: http://www.stonybrook.edu/ehs/fire/disabilities.

Academic Integrity Statement

Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Faculty is required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary. Faculty in the Health Sciences Center (School of Health Technology & Management, Nursing, Social Welfare, Dental Medicine) and School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty please refer to the academic judiciary website at

Critical Incident Management

Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of University Community Standards any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students' ability to learn. Faculty in the HSC Schools and the School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures. Further information about most academic matters can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin, the Undergraduate Class Schedule, and the Faculty-Employee Handbook.