Course: Math 108A, Introduction to Linear Algebra, Winter 2016
Lecture: MWF 1:00pm - 1:50pm, NH1105
Instructor: J. Tener
Office: South Hall 6524
Office hours:

  • Wedneday: 2:00pm - 3:30pm
  • Thursday: 10:00am - 11:30am
  • Or by appointment

About the course: The purpose of this course is to study vector spaces and linear maps. Our treatment of the material will emphasize general theory over calculation. Along the way, students will improve their ability to understand abstract mathematics and write clear proofs.

Textbook: The textbook is Linear Algebra Done Right (Third Edition) by Axler. It is cheaper on Amazon than at the campus bookstore. We will cover most of chapters 1-5 of the text, with additional topics as time permits.

Enrollment: Questions about enrollment and the waitlist should be directed to Math Undergraduate Advising at Priority on the waitlist will be given to those attending ("crashing") class and discussion section.

Attendance There is no formal attendance policy, but you are expected to attend every class. The presentation of material in class will be designed to complement that of the textbook, as opposed to just repeating it.

Homework:Homework will be assigned weekly and posted on GauchoSpace approximately a week before it is due. Homework will generally be due in class on Friday, subject to announced exceptions. Late homework will not be accepted. I will drop everyone's lowest homework grade to account for any emergencies which prevent you from completing or turning in an assignment.

There will also be assigned reading in the class. Reading mathematical theory is different than reading novels or even from reading textbooks for, say, a calculus class. You need to pause after every sentence to make sure you really understand the meaning of all the words, and what the content of the sentence is. Some aspects of proofs will be left as exercises to the reader; you should make sure that you can do these, and if you cannot that is a sign that you need to go back over earlier parts of the text. Reading mathematics is slow, and you shouldn't try to rush it.

As with all upper division math classes, homework is a crucial component of the course. Working through exercises is by far the most important step in learning mathematics. Be sure to start your homework early, as some questions will be quite challenging. You are encouraged to come to office hours with questions about the homework. You are also allowed (and encouraged!) to discuss homework problems with your classmates, but you must write up your solutions by yourself.

Your homework should be neat, and you are expected to write proofs clearly, using complete sentences. Make sure to leave space for the grader to leave comments, and staple your assignment when you use more than one sheet of paper. Excessively messy assignments will not be graded.

Quizzes: We will have weekly quizzes in class on Friday. The quizzes will take place during the first 5-10 minutes of class, so it is important that you arrive on time. You won't be allotted extra time if you arrive late. Quizzes will consist of 1-2 short questions, typically focusing on recent definitions, recent theorems, and their consequences. Your lowest quiz grade will be dropped to account for illnesses, emergencies, etc.

Exams: There will be one midterm exam and a final exam. The midterm is in class on Friday, February 12th, and the final exam is on Wednesday, March 16th at 4pm. Accommodations for scheduling conflicts with the midterm must be discussed during the first week of the quarter. The exams will be held in the usual classroom (NH1105).

Grading: Your grade will be calculated as follows: Homework 30%, Quizzes 5%, Midterm 20%, Final 45%. Your lowest homework grade and your lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Curves for exam grades will be announced during the quarter. There is no preset number of A's, B's, etc., so you are not competing against your fellow students.