SUNY at Stony Brook MAT 211: Introduction to Linear Algebra
Fall 2013
Syllabus MAT 211

MAT 211 Introduction to Linear Algebra

Stony Brook Fall 2013

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 the 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.

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.

We will cover Chapters 1 through 7 from the textbook, possibly skipping a couple of sections. 

Prerequisite: C or higher in AMS 151 or MAT 131 or 141 or coregistration in MAT 126 or level 7 on the mathematics placement examination

Instructor: Moira Chas
Office Hours: : Mo 1:30-3:30pm  in 3-119 Math Tower, Wednesday 2:45pm-3:45pm in P-143 Math Tower.
Email: moira.chas at

Grader: Xuemiao Chen
Office Hours: :  Wednesday 1:30pm-2:30pm in Math Tower S-240C,  Thu 4:00pm-6:00pm in MLC
Email: xuemiao.chen at

Grader: Ivan Chio
Office Hours: : Monday 1-2pm MLC
Email: xuemiao.chen at

When: The course meets Mo-We-Fr 12pm-12:53pm.
Where: Simons Center 103.

Text: Linear Algebra with Applications, 5/E, by Otto Bretscher, 2013 • Pearson • Cloth, 528 pp
Published 12/10/2012 •

This book is available at the campus bookstore.  The 4th edition of the book can also be used. If there is any problem with the number of the homework assignement, I will post both versions.

You can also rent an electronic-only versions of the text available at CourseSmart (Price to Student $67.99).


Homework will be assigned weekly and is due Mondays before class. Homework is mandatory because it is an esential part of the course: It is not possible to learn mathematics without working on problems
  • There will be about ten problems each week and five or six of those ten will be graded. 
  • Each graded problem "worths" 10 points.
  • 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 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.
  • A recipe to do well in this course
    •  start working on the problems of the book since the very beginning of the course.
    • solve all the problems listed in the schedule.
    • every Monday before class, submit the problems in bold letters.
    • make sure you understand how to solve the problems.
    • ask for help (to your instructor, the grader, your classmates) whenever you need to.
    • read the assigned material before each lecture.
    • attend to the lectures
    • spend a few hours a week working on the course.

    Problem assignments can always be found  here.

Every homework assignment must be handed in with a header containing: 
  •  Lastname, Name
  •  University ID Number
  •  Date Submitted
  • Assignment number.
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.z
  • Use black or dark blue ink when writing up answers for your homework assignments.
  • Mathematical writing is an important part of this course; therefore all problem sets must be legible and must use complete English sentences, correct grammar and correct spelling. 
  • All steps should be clearly justfied. In particular, if you refer to a statement of the book, please include the corresponding.
  • Try to minimize the number of symbols and avoid most abreviations.
  • Proofread what you have written before submitting.

  • 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). 
  • The grader will grade selected problems and post the grades in Blackboard.
  • All questions regarding grading of a problem set must be addressed to the grader.

Examinations 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. Part of your grade will be based on class participation in the lecture (note that asking questions in class counts as class participation). 

Exam Date
% of Final Grade
Midterm 1
Monday 9/30
12-12:53pm 20%
Midterm 2
Monday 11/4  12-12:53pm
Final Exam Thursday 12/12 5:30pm-8pm 40%
Homework, participation, etc. 20%

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.

Grades will be posted in Blackboard.

All exams are closed notes and closed book.  It is not permitted to use cell phones, calculators, laptops, MP3 players, Blackberries or other such electronic devices at any time during exams. Once the exam has begun, use of such devices or having such devices in view, as well as having notes or books on the desk or in view will be considered cheating and will be referred to the Academic Judiciary. Similarly, once the exam has begun any communication with a person other than the instructor or proctor will be considered cheating and will be referred to the Academic Judiciary.

Reading: The textbook is intended to be read. Read the assigned sections before the lecture! This will greatly increase your comprehension, and enable you to ask good  questions in class. Furthermore, the lectures will not always be able to cover all of the material for which you will be responsible.

Disabilities: If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services at or (631) 632-6748. They will determine with you what accommodations 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 Disability Support Services. For procedures and information go to the following website:

Academic Integrity: 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 are required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary. 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 Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, and/or inhibits students' ability to learn.