Colorado State University, Pueblo
Math 207 — Matrix and Vector Algebra with Applications
Spring 2009

Here is a shortcut to the course schedule/homework page.

Lectures: MWF (12 Jan to 20 Mar!) in Phys/Math 108, 2-2:50pm
Office Hours: MWF 11-11:50am, TΘ 12-12:50pm or by appointment

Instructor: Jonathan Poritz
Office: PM 248
Phone: 549-2044 (office — any time); 337-1210 (cell) and 473-8928 (home) (both for emergencies only, please)

Text: Linear Algebra, A Modern Introduction (2nd ed.), by David Poole. We will cover much of Chapters 1, 2, and 3, and possibly other, supplementary topics, as time and interest allow.

Calculators: A calculator, such as the TI-84, which can do matrix operations, is recommended. Students will be expected, however, to learn to do all computations on their own. [For a note on why, see below.]

Content/objectives: To introduce students to the geometric and algebraic ideas behind, and techniques for working with, matrices and vectors. Where possible and relevant, we will also discuss applications of these ideas and techniques in other fields, including physics, engineering, computer science and other parts of mathematics.

The Textbook: I will frequently deviate from it in content and examples presented. But please actually read the text sections I assign on the HW/schedule web page!

Homework: will generally be due weekly. You will probably enjoy it more, and learn more from it, if you work with your classmates, so I encourage you to do so. However, you must each turn in your own write-up of the solutions.
A large part of mathematics is a learned skill of which you will need to acquire active mastery, by practice and independent struggle, so I expect you will spend at least two hours of effort on this course outside of class for each hour actually in class. Most of this time will be spent on your homework, which will be essentially impossible to do at the last minute. So please start your homework early and talk to me, in class and my office hours, for help as you are working on it.
There will also be quizzes and/or classroom worksheets which can be turned in and which will count as part of your homework grades.

Exams: We will have two midterm exams: the first, covering Chapter 1, in class on Friday, January 30, 2008; the second, covering Chapter 2, in class on Friday, February 20, 2008. The final will include some material from both of these chapters but will have a special emphasis on Chapter 3 (and later). It will be given in two parts, on Wednesday, March 18, 2008, and Friday, March 20, 2008, in class.

Grades: I will drop your lowest homework score. After that, the various parts of the course will be weighted as follows:
                                        Homework: 30%
2 Midterms: 20% (each)
Final Exam: 30%
Course grades will then be computed in a manner not more strict than the traditional "90-100% is a A, 80-90% a B, etc." method. [Note that the math department does not give "+"s or "-"s.]

Only 10 weeks! This is a 2 credit course given with lectures MWF — therefore it will meet only for the first ten weeks of the term. Hence all important dates (drop/add, finals, etc.) are somewhat compressed: see the course schedule for details.

Office hours: Feel free to come to my office to talk about anything during my above-specified office hours -- in fact, most any time you can find me in my office I am happy to talk to you, unless I am on my way to a meeting or to another class. There is a large table right outside my office and in many semesters students have spent a lot of time working together there on this class (and others), where I can easily be consulted if some difficulty arises -- come by if you have time, it is a good place to work on math.

Academic integrity: Aside from the collaborative homework efforts I mentioned above, everything you submit to me must be entirely your own, or else you must give complete and accurate attribution to the true source. Deviation from this will result in all involved parties being given a final grade of F. Similarly, late or missed homeworks or exams will receive a zero, unless we have discussed the situation in advance. Please also always provide me with some paper documentation to support your needs for special treatment.

A Philosophical Note: Courses at this level have both conceptual and computational aspects, and actually I am much more interested in students mastering the concepts than the calculations. Partly this is because there is a great deal of evidence that the conceptual understanding pulls the calculational along with it, but not vice-versa; another reason is that specific calculations are not likely to be all that useful to you, while understanding the ideas will give you the tools to apply them in many more situations.
This philosophy has the concrete consequence that I will require students always to explain their written work, perhaps more than you are used to in previous math courses. So a correct numerical answer without explanation may get very little credit, while an incorrect answer with good, careful, and complete reasoning explained will likely get (nearly) full credit. You do not have to write long, beautiful (or even grammatically correct) sentences of explanation, but you do have to provide enough notes that I can follow what you are thinking as you do your mathematical work. What exactly is the correct level of explanation should become clear quite quickly in returned HWs and quizzes.

Students with disabilities: The University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulate that no student shall be denied the benefits "solely by reason of a handicap." If you have a documented disability that may impact your performance in this class for which you may require accomodations, please see me as soon as possible to arrange these accomodations. In order to receive this assistance, you must be registered with, and provide documentation of your disability to, the Disability Services Office, which is located in the Pschology Building, Room 232.

Jonathan Poritz (




Trinity: I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing... why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. [...] It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
Neo: What is the Matrix?
Trinity: The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.


Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
  from The Matrix, (1999), written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, Warner Bros.

  from Toothpaste for Dinner, webcomic by "Drew",