SyDe114 - Linear Algebra
Stephen Birkett

Piano Design
Physical Systems
Animal Growth Modelling
Environmental Systems

Linear Algebra
Topics and Lectures
Numerical Methods
Computational Mathematics
Musical Instruments

Marcia Hadjimarkos

Instructor: Stephen Birkett

Teaching Assistants:
  Rozita Dara DC 2585 Ext. 3746  
Faezeh Jahanmiri Nezhad DC 2640 Ext. 7745

Linear algebra is applicable and useful in ALL areas of Systems Design, and especially those which are computationally intensive: modelling and simulation, mechatronics, intelligent systems, signal analysis, image processing and computer graphics, and software engineering. In this course you will learn many basic mathematical concepts and techniques that will be important in your applications courses coming along in SYDE. Trust me. The focus here will be on how to use linear algebra, not on presenting a mathematical theory with proofs etc. , but the concepts still need to be presented carefully and precisely. Powerful computer software is of course available to do numerical algebraic calculations of all kinds (Mathcad, Matlab, Maple, even hand-held calculators). You'll get a chance to do the numerical stuff in SyDe312. When you're learning the concepts and basic skills though, numerical issues can be a distraction and unnecessary complication impeding progress (computer algebra has its own idiosyncracies to worry about) . As with any math course - but this is especially true with linear algebra - the material builds on earlier work, so it is important to keep up-to-date with assignment problems. Further course details can be found in the introduction.

Course Listserv:

The course material can be found in numerous textbooks [all of them much more expensive than the official text]. Feel free to use a different book for learning if it's your personal preference. But note that details of specific topic requirements will be cited from the official text, as will the assigned samples problems. Notation used will also follow the official text.
Lipschutz & Lipson, Schaum's Outline Linear Algebra, McGraw-Hill, 3rd Edition, 2001.
This is the course text. It has many worked problems as examples. We'll use it for exercises too. It's inexpensive. The downside: there are MANY typos, especially in the answers given for "Supplementary Problems". So be forewarned. Most of the typos are fairly obvious.


A basic scientific calculator can be used, and is allowed on the final exam.
Assistance: Formal office hours won't be posted. Instead a more flexible arrangement will be used. This seems to work best for all parties concerned. If you want to set up a meeting time, a contact via email will receive a prompt response and a convenient time to meet can be arranged. Many questions can be resolved quickly over email anyway. And there's also the course listserv (see below). We also have 2.0 TAs assigned to our course (see above) so feel free to take advantage of that resource for additional assistance.

Course Listserv :
I have created a course listserv for discussion related to your SyDe114 course. Everyone in the class should make sure they are signed onto the listserv with an active email address and read the emails regularly. All announcements will be posted on the listserv: assignment and other course info, updates, lecture and problem-solving commentary, text typos, clarifications etc. Please pass on information about typos you find that haven't been pointed out previously. Discussion on the listserv can include anything that is helpful so don't be shy. All members can post messages. Feel free to ask questions, or offer answers to others' questions if you can help. Archives of past messages will be available at yahoo. I'd like the listserv to function as an 'extended 24/7 tutorial' system so please use it. Traffic is not huge. Unless you want to remain anonymous, or have a question or issue that relates only to you personally, I'd prefer that questions be posted and answered on the listserv. There are often others in the class who have been wondering about the same point and appreciate seeing the answer(s).

All the topics are covered in the text, but in a different order from how we will organize the lectures. Lecture notes will also be provided throughout the course as well as being posted in pdf format on the website for reference. The six main units will be: 1. Vector spaces 2. Matrix algebra 3. Linear maps 4. Eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and diagonalization 5. Inner product spaces and orthogonality 6. Systems of linear equations. A detailed list of topics will be continuously updated online as we go along, and also a roadmap of how the lecture topics relate to the text sections. Topics have been selected to give you a solid foundation for future courses, not for abstract mathematical or theoretical interest [e.g the treatment of determinants will be quite cursory].

Grading Scheme:
Homework 9 'mini-tests' (40%) + final exam (60%). A passing grade on the final exam is required to achieve a pass in the overall course grade.

Assigned problems.
Suggested assigned problems will be posted on this site. You can get help with these in the tutorials, from TAs, or from me. Solutions to all homework problems are posted on the course webpage. Try at least some of them before looking at the solutions! Success in math is generally a [non-decreasing] function of the amount of effort put into working problems, so that effort is always rewarded indirectly. Mastering this material is an experiential process rather than spectator sport. The texts contain many worked problems and examples - study these carefully.

Homework 'mini-tests'.
A homework problem (or problems) covering recent material will be distributed each week on Tuesday. You will have two days to prepare a solution which will be collected in the Thursday tutorial.

Final Exam.
The exam will include questions based on all course units (1 to 6). Questions will test your: (i) knowledge of the material presented in the lectures, with an emphasis on understanding, not formal proofs; (ii) skill on the assigned problems and homework. The mini-test questions are typical of the kinds of computational problems you can expect on the final exam; the lecture slides include ALL the theory you might see on the exam.

Continuous feedback is welcome. I want to know about problems while something can be done to fix them, rather than after the course is over. Don't hesitate to make suggestions for improvements. I like to hear from students about what is good or what is not good.

|top of page|

©2004 Stephen Birkett