Math 1600A: Linear Algebra I (Fall 2014)

This is the course web page for Fall 2014. The course web page for the Winter 2015 version is here.

Please check this course web page and the exercises page regularly for announcements and updates.

Final exam grades and overall course grades are available on OWL.

Section 001 Section 002
Instructor David Riley Dan Christensen (coordinator)
Office Middlesex 136 Middlesex 103B
Phone x86522 x86530
E-mail ( dmriley jdc
Office hours M 9:30-10:00, Tu 12:30-1:00 M 3:00-3:30, W 11:30-noon
Class times (and notes) MWF 8:30-9:30 MWF 10:30-11:30; Section 002 notes
Class location MC-105B UCC-56
Tutorials 1 hour per week, either Wednesday or Thursday. The TA reviews material from the course and answers questions, and the tutorials also include quizzes (see below). You must attend the tutorial you are registered for (see your schedule). Tutorials start the week of September 15-19.
Help centre Mon-Fri 2:30-6:30 in MC 106. (This is the common help centre for all first year math courses.)
Course outline Properties and applications of vectors; matrix algebra; solving systems of linear equations; determinants; vector spaces; independence; orthogonality; eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Link to UWO course calendar.
Textbook D. Poole, Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction, 3rd ed., Brooks Cole, 2010. ISBN 9780538735452. (Not the newer 4th edition!)
The textbook is available at the bookstore. There is also an optional "Student Solutions Manual and Study Guide". If you buy the combo pack, it is only $15 more. The book can be purchased from online sources as well, and should be easy to get used. The Solutions Manual has been put on reserve at Taylor Library.
Prerequisites One or more of Ontario Secondary School MCV4U, Mathematics 1229A/B, Calculus 1000A/B or 1500A/B, the former Calculus 1100A/B. Calculus 1000A/B or 1500A/B may be taken as a pre- or corequisite. Note that 1229 can be taken before 1600, but not at the same time.
Antirequisites Applied Mathematics 1411A/B, 2811B, the former Linear Algebra 1600A/B.
Web page This page is available at, where you should also check for course announcements. We will only use OWL for grades.
Quizzes There will be 9 quizzes throughout the year, during the tutorials. The quizzes will cover the material up to and including what was covered on Monday's lecture. You must take the quiz at the tutorial you are registered for.
Sep 4, 10-11no tutorial
Sep 17-18quiz 1
Sep 24-25quiz 2
Oct 1-2quiz 3
Oct 8-9quiz 4
Oct 15-16quiz 5
Oct 22-23review for MT
Oct 29-30no tutorial (Fall break 30-31)
Nov 5-6quiz 6
Nov 12-13quiz 7
Nov 19-20quiz 8
Nov 26-27quiz 9
Dec 3-4no tutorial (classes end Dec 3)
Midterm exam There will be one 3-hour midterm on Saturday, Oct 25, from 7pm to 10pm. Location is determined by last (family) name: A-E: UCC37. F-Ma: UCC56. Mc-Z: UCC146.
Final exam The final examination will take place on Monday, December 8, 9am to noon. All students in Section 001 write in NS1. For students in Section 002: A to TOPA write in NS1, and TU to Z write in NS7. The final exam will cover all the material from the course, but will emphasize the later material. See below for how conflicts are handled.
Evaluation Quizzes: 20%, midterm: 35%, final exam: 45%. For the quizzes, the lowest two scores will be dropped.

What is expected of the student

The aim of the course is for you to learn the techniques of linear algebra and to gain an understanding of the concepts on which the techniques are based. This will require a considerable effort on your part. For each hour of lecture, you should spend about 2 hours studying the material at home. This includes reading the relevant sections of the textbook and, above all, doing the exercises at the end of each section as we cover the material, not just before quizzes and exams. Do as many of them as necessary to feel comfortable with the material.

Remember: You understand the material if you can answer questions about it that you have not seen before. Being able to solve the umpteenth exercise in a row of almost identical ones just shows that you remember the recipe. While this is certainly important, you should not confuse this with a true understanding of the concepts.

It is strongly recommended to read the text ahead of time to prepare for each lecture.

This course covers a lot of material, and is cumulative (much more than other courses!), so it will be necessary to work hard throughout the term in order to do well.

Quizzes and exams

For quizzes and exams, questions will be similar — but not identical — to the exercises in the textbook. Here "similar" means that they require the same level of understanding, not that just the numbers were changed.

The best way to prepare for quizzes and exams is to do as many exercises as possible. Note that the point is not to learn solutions by heart, but to gain experience in finding them. If you cannot solve an exercise, the most important question you should ask yourself is not: "What is the solution?" (which, for most odd-numbered exercises, can be found at the end of the book), but: "What is the concept that I haven't understood?"

No calculators or other aids are allowed on quizzes or exams.

Missed quiz, midterm or final exam

Remember that the lowest two quiz scores are dropped, to take into account absences for unforeseen reasons.

If you know ahead of time that you are unable to attend a quiz, midterm or final exam, please let your instructor know as soon as possible so alternative arrangements can be made. For final exam conflicts, see below.

If you are unable to attend a quiz, midterm or final exam due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to your Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately. It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor. For further information please see this link and the Student Services web site.

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness should bring a Student Medical Certificate with them when visiting an off-campus medical facility and use a Record Release Form for visits to Student Health Services. Hard copies of both of these forms are available from your home Faculty Academic Counselling Service.

If a quiz is missed and sufficient documentation is provided, the grade for that quiz will be reweighted to the other quizzes. If an exam is missed and sufficient documentation is provided, a make-up exam will be offered.

Failure to follow these rules may result in a grade of zero.

Final exam conflicts

Please see the University's policy on final exam conflicts. Here is a quote from this document:
A student who is scheduled to write more than two such examinations in any 23-hour period, more than three in any 47-hour period, or more than four in any 71-hour period may request alternative arrangements through the office of the dean of their faculty.

A student who is scheduled to write two examinations concurrently must notify the Registrar so that arrangements may be made for both examinations to be written in the Examination Conflict Room in a sequence established by the Registrar.

In the case of two exams at the same time, the Registrar's office should have already contacted you, but if not, contact Averil Davis, x84866,

In both cases, please also let your instructor know about the conflict, and read the entire University policy. Deadline: November 21.

Academic offences

Copying solutions from other students, online sources, textbooks, etc., or showing your work to other students, constitutes a scholastic offense.

Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the official policy. Note that the penalty for cheating can include receiving a failing grade in the course and suspension or expulsion from the University. All scholastic offences are added to your student record.

Electronic devices (including cell phones and music players) are not allowed at the exams and may be confiscated. The mere possession of such devices will already be considered an academic offence.


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 x82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.

Support Services

Learning-skills counsellors at the Student Development Centre are ready to help you improve your learning skills. Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Mental Health@Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. Additional student-run support services are offered by the USC. The website for Registrarial Services is


You are responsible for ensuring that you have successfully completed all course prerequisites and that you have not taken an antirequisite course. Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.

Please check the exercises page and this course web page regularly for announcements and updates.