Description of course: Linear Algebra can be regarded as the art of solving linear equations. You have seen such equations since middle school: if 2x=4 then find x. In high school, you solved systems of 2 or 3 simultaneous linear equations in 2 or 3 variables. Such systems can be organized into a matrix equation Ax=b, where A is a matrix, x is a variable vector, and b is a constant vector. Linear algebra is a deep investigation into systems of simultaneous linear equations. In the course, we will examine such questions as: How do we know when a system of m linear equations in n variables has a solution? How many solutions can there be? How do we find them efficiently? If there is no solution, then how close can we get to one? We will mostly be interested in the abstract structure of the space of solutions, which forms an object called a vector space. While such questions might appear to be somewhat isolated, they are actually fundamental to the natural sciences, computer science, economics, and statistics. Furthermore, almost all higher mathematics today (geometry, topology, number theory, analysis, differential equations, etc.) depends on linear algebra in some fundamental way.
The main topics covered will be vector spaces, linear transformations, matrices, systems of linear equations, determinants, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, diagonalization, and applications. Time permitting, we will investigate the linear algebra behind Google's PageRank algorithm and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics. Math 225 (as opposed to Math 222) is more focused on the abstract aspects of linear algebra and will demand a fair amount of maturity of mathematical thinking, not just rote problem solving. The course will try to strike a balance between computations, concepts, proofs, and applications. Problem sets will consist of a mix of computational and proof-based problems.
Expected background: Officially, the prerequisite is Math 120 (taken earlier or concurrently). In reality, we will hardly use any calculus or infinite series. However, it is important that you are comfortable with vectors and basic geometry of 3-dimensional space as taught in Math 120 (e.g., vector addition, scalar multiplication, dot product, magnitude, normal vectors, lines and planes in three dimensional space).
Work with anyone on solving your homework problems,Writing up the final draft is as important a process as figuring out the problems on scratch paper with your friends, see the guidelines below. Mathematical writing is very idiosyncratic - we will be able to tell if papers have been copied - just don't do it! You will not learn by copying solutions from others or from the internet! Also, if you work with people on a particular assignment, you must list your collaborators on the top of the first page. This makes the process fun, transparent, and honest.
Policies(or otherwise the small print)
Homework: Weekly homework will be due in-class on Thursday. Each assignment will be posted on the syllabus page the week before it's due.
Late or improperly submitted homework will not be accepted. If you know in advance that you will be unable to submit your homework at the correct time and place, you must make special arrangements ahead of time. Under extraordinary circumstances, late homework may be accepted with a dean's excuse.
Your homework must be stapled (or otherwise securely fastened) together, with your name clearly written on the top. Consider the pieces of paper you turn in as a final copy: written neatly and straight across the page, on clean paper, with nice margins and lots of space, and well organized.
You might consider taking the opportunity to learn LaTeX.
No homework will be due during the week of the midterm exam.
Your lowest homework score from the semester will be dropped.
Exams/quizzes: There will be two in-class 20 minute quizzes, announced a few days beforehand. The midterm exam will take place in-class on Thursday 09 March. The final exam will take place 09:00 am - 12:30 pm on Saturday 06 May in DL 220.
Your top quiz score will be weighted twice as much as your lowest score.
Make-up quizzes and exams will only be allowed with a dean's excuse.
The use of electronic devices of any kind during quizzes and exams is strictly forbidden.
Homework guidelines: Generally, a homework problem in any math course will consist of two parts: the creative part and the write-up.
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