General Information

Title: MA3120: Linear Algebra
Time: MWF 9:05-9:55PM
Location: Hyde 318

Course Information and Policies


Two semesters of calculus.

Course description

Introduction to linear algebra including vector spaces, linear transformations, matrices and determinants. Applications to a variety of areas.


The primary objective of this course is to aid students in becoming confident and competent in solving problems that require techniques developed in Linear Algebra. Successful completion of MA3120 provides students with skills necessary for upper division mathematics, science, and computer science courses. Students will have a working understanding of systems of linear equations, vector spaces, linear independence, dimension, linear transformations, matrices, determinants, eigenvalues, and eigenvectors. Students will also improve their ability to read and write mathematics. Also, the purpose of any mathematics class is to challenge and train the mind. Learning mathematics enhances critical thinking and problem solving skills.


We will be using the open-source textbook A First Course in Linear Algebra by Rob Beezer (University of Puget Sound). This book is available for free from the author's webpage. There are many formats available for the book: PDF, PDF for Kindle, HTML, etc. You can see the various PDF versions by clicking on the "Download" link and the HTML versions by clicking on "Online Editions." For those of you that prefer a physical book, you also have the option of purchasing a copy for approximately $30 from Lulu. You might also be interested in ordering the Archetypes workbook that accompanies the text. This smaller book contains standard examples and summaries of concepts. It is available on Lulu for $8.90. Note that the Archetypes workbook is also available for free as part of the PDF or HTML that is available on the author's webpage.

I expect you to be reading the textbook. I will not be covering every detail of the textbook and the only way to achieve a sufficient understanding of the material is to be digesting the reading in a meaningful way. You should be seeking clarification about the material in the textbook whenever necessary by asking questions in class or posting questions to the course forum.


We will have two types of homework assignments.

You are allowed and encouraged to work together on homework. However, each student is expected to turn in his or her own work. Lastly, students are allowed to modify their homework in light of discussions/presentations made in class; however, you are required to use the felt-tip pens provided in class.

You can find the list of homework assignments here. I reserve the right to modify the homework assignments as I see necessary.


There will be two midterm exams and a cumulative final exam. Each exam will be worth 20% of your overall grade and will consist of an in-class portion and a take-home portion. The in-class portions of the midterm exams are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 29 and Wednesday, April 11, and the in-class portion of the final exam will be on Friday, May 18 at 8:00–10:30AM. Make-up exams will only be given under extreme circumstances, as judged by me. In general, it will be best to communicate conflicts ahead of time.

Basis for Evaluation

Your final grade will be determined by the scores of your homework, midterm exams, and final exam.

Category Weight Notes
Daily Homework 20% each assignment graded on $\checkmark$-system
Weekly Homework 20% each assignment worth 10 points
Exam 1 20% in-class portion on Wednesday, February 29
Exam 2 20% in-class portion on Wednesday, April 11
Final Exam 20% in-class portion on Friday, May 18 at 8:00–10:30AM

Grade Determination

Grades may be "massaged" at the end of the semester, but in general you should expect the grades to adhere to the standard letter-grade cutoffs.

Additional Information


Regular attendance is expected and is vital to success in this course, but you will not explicitly be graded on attendance. All students should be familiar with the university attendance policy which can be found on page 45 of the PSU Academic Catalog as well as the Academic Integrity and Fairness in Grading policies as written on pages 40-43 of the PSU Academic Catalog. The catalog may be viewed here.

About Calculators and Other Technology

I am a huge fan of technology and believe that when it is used appropriately, it can greatly enhance one's learning experience. However, when learning, technology should never replace one's own amazing cognitive abilities. When we are discussing concepts in class or when you are doing homework, you should feel free to use whatever resources you feel will help you understand the concepts better. So, feel free to use things like Sage, Wolfram|Alpha, your graphing calculator, etc. when doing homework. However, be warned that I am much more interested in the process by which you arrived at your answer than the answer itself. An answer to a homework or exam question that is correct but lacks justification may be worth little to no points. If you understand a concept, then barring a silly computational error, the correct answer comes along for the ride. Yet, getting the correct answer does not imply that you understand anything!

Getting Help

There are many resources available to get help. First, I recommend that you work on homework in groups as much as possible, and to come see me whenever necessary. Also, you are strongly encouraged to ask questions in the course forum on our Moodle page page, as I will post comments there for all to benefit from. To effectively post to the course forum, you will need to learn the basics of LaTeX, the standard language for typesetting in the mathematics community. See the Quick LaTeX guide for help with $\LaTeX$. If you need additional help with $\LaTeX$, post a question in the course forum on our Moodle page.

Also, you can always .

Math Activity Center

You can also visit the Math Activity Center, which is located in Hyde 351. This student-run organization provides peer tutoring services for most 1000 and 2000 level math courses and some 3000 level courses. Tutors are typically math majors interested in teaching math and practicing their instructional skills. You can drop in anytime during open hours.

Student Handbook

The PSU Student Handbook addresses policies pertaining to students with disabilities, religious observation, honor code, general conduct, etc. The Handbook can be found here.

ACT for Growth

All teacher education majors are subject to the Areas of Concern/Targets for Growth policy, which is located here.

ADA Statement

Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you should immediately contact the PASS Office in Lamson Library (535-2270) to determine whether you are eligible for such accommodations. Academic accommodations will only be considered for students who have registered with the PASS Office. If you have a Letter of Accommodation for this course from the PASS Office, please provide the instructor with that information privately so that you and the instructor can review those accommodations. I urge anyone having difficulty with the material to see me during office hours to get extra help.

Closing Remarks

When does the learning happen? It might happen in class, but most likely it happens when you sit down to do your homework. Most of you can follow what happens on the board in class, but the question is, can you do it on your own? To learn best, you must struggle with mathematics on your own. It is supposed to be difficult. However, if you are struggling too much, then there are resources available for you. I am always happy to help you. If my office hours don't work for you, then we can probably find another time to meet. You can also get help from each other. Get a study buddy! Help each other learn. Go the Math Activity Center. It is your responsibility to be aware of how well you understand the material. Don't wait until it is too late if you need help. Ask questions!