MATH 340L: Matrices and Matrix Calculations

General Information

      Instructor: Dave Rusin ( 
      Office hrs: MWF 10-11:30 and by appointment, in RLM 9.140 .
      (I am usually in my office during ordinary business hours but if you
      want to be sure I'm available, let me know in advance.)

      Text: Linear Algebra and its Applications, David C Lay (fourth edition)

      This syllabus applies to two sections of Math 340L:
          UniqID 53390 meets MWF  9:00- 9:50am in GSB 2.126
          UniqID 53405 meets MWF  1:00- 1:50pm in GSB 2.126

      Both sections will reach the same goals but along different paths, so
      sign up for either course, but then attend only that one consistently.

      Your final exam will be 
          53390 -- Monday, December 14, 2pm-5pm
          53405 -- Saturday, December 12, 2pm-5pm
      It may not be in the regular classroom; I will announce the location when
      I know it. There is no provision for taking the final exam earlier or later.

      Teaching Assistant: Hung-Min Hsu. He is available to help you with
      course materials in Welch 2.228 on
          Wednesdays 11am-2pm              and on
          Fridays    12m -2pm and 5pm-6pm

UPDATE: The final exams will NOT be in the regular classroom. The new rooms will be

Course webpage: It is unlikely that I will post any important material to Blackboard or Canvas; for any additional information I want to give you outside of class you should come to this webpage.

Catalogue Description:

Techniques of matrix calculations and applications of linear algebra.

More precisely, we will cover most of the first seven chapters of Lay's book:

  1. Linear Equations in Linear Algebra,
  2. Matrix Algebra,
  3. Determinants,
  4. Vector Spaces,
  5. Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors,
  6. Orthogonality and Least Squares, and
  7. Symmetric Matrices and Quadratic Forms.

There are two Linear Algebra courses at UT, Math 340L and Math 341, which are fairly similar. You cannot earn UT credit for both of them. Ordinarily, math majors must take Math 341, and no one else may. Math 340L focuses on computation and application; Math 341 on theory and proof. Please see an advisor in MPAA (on the ground floor of RLM) if you need assistance enrolling in the appropriate Linear Algebra course.


One semseter of calculus with a grade of at least C- .

Graded material

Homework: I will assign homework problems, typically taken from the book, approximately weekly. I will use a grader to try to get as much of your responses graded as possible but I strongly encourage you to self-grade, that is, consult with me or your classmates to know that your answers are good. Remember, you do homework primarily to learn the material, not to score points.

I will give a grade for each homework set, then drop the lowest two, then scale your remaining total to a 100-point scale as part of your semester grade.

Here are the homework assignments so far:

  1. HW01 due Monday, Aug 31
  2. HW02 due Wednesday, Sep 09
  3. HW03 due Wednesday, Sep 16
  4. HW04 due Friday, Sep 25
  5. HW05 due Friday, Oct 02
  6. HW06 due Friday, Oct 09
  7. HW07 due Friday, Oct 16
  8. HW08 due Wednesday, Nov 04
  9. HW09 due Wednesday, Nov 11
  10. HW10 due Friday, Nov 20
  11. HW11 due Friday, Dec 04

Quizzes: I reserve the right to give a few pop quizzes during the semester. Each of these will be treated as another homework assignment (and in particular, for some of you these may be among the two dropped homework assignments).

Exams: There will be 3 mid-term exams, to be held during the usual class period, and a comprehensive final exam. Each midterm is worth 100 points and the final is worth 200 points.

Textbooks, notes, and electronic devices (including phones and calculators) are not permitted during exams. The exams will be a mix of multiple-choice and free-response questions; the ratio will change as the semester progresses.

Letter Grades

Your semester grade is based only on the number of points accumulated from the above mix of 600 possible points. I will use this conversion table:
Point total Semester grade
550-600 A
530-549 A-
510-529 B+
490-509 B
470-489 B-
450-469 C+
430-449 C
410-429 C-
390-409 D+
370-389 D
350-369 D-
0-349 F
If for some reason there is a deviation from this scale it will be applied uniformly to the whole class, and it will be announced in class. I promise that if anything, I will only make the scale more generous! WARNING While the letter grade distributions in my classes tend to look like those of other instructors, students often report that my tests tend to be difficult and long, and so the numerical scores are not high. But fear not! I will make sure to assign letter grades at the end of the semester so that the mean score will roughly separate the A's and B's from the C's, D's, and F's; after all A and B are supposed to mean "above average", right? (Mean is not the same as median; more than half of my students get A's and B's.) I have set the scale above from experience to reflect what I expect will happen.

No letter grades will be assigned to the midterms or homeworks, but you should keep track of where you stand: I will advise you of the class averages and you can use this information as a rough guideline to where you stand.


Classroom activity: Our meeting times together are very short so we must make the most of them. Come to class daily and ask questions; this is greatly facilitated by reading ahead each day and doing the homework problems as they are assigned. Please silence your cell phones. I will always assume that any conversations I hear are about the course material so I may ask you to speak up.

Make-ups: it is in general not possible to make up missing quizzes or homework assignments after the due date. If you believe you will have to miss a graded event, please notify me in advance; I will try to arrange for you to complete the work early.

Students with disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.

Religious holidays: If you are unable to participate in a required class activity (such as an exam) because it conflicts with your religious traditions, please notify me IN ADVANCE and I will make accommodations for you. Typically I will ask you to complete the required work before the religious observance begins.

Academic Integrity. Please read the message about Academic Integrity from the Dean of Students Office. I very much prefer to treat you as professionals whose honesty is beyond question; but if my trust is violated I will follow the procedures available to me to see that dishonesty is exposed and punished.

Campus safety: Please familiarize yourself with the Emergency Preparedness instructions provided by the university's Campus Safety and Security office. In the event of severe weather or a security threat, we will immediately suspend class and follow the instructions given. You may wish to sign up with the campus alert programs.

Counseling: Students often encounter non-academic difficulties during the semester, including stresses from family, health issues, and lifestyle choices. I am not trained to help you with these but do encourage you to take advantage of the Counselling and Mental Health Center, Student Services Bldg (SSB), 5th Floor, open M-F 8am-5pm. (512 471 3515, or

Add dates: If you enroll within the first four class days of the semester, and have missed any graded material, I will adjust the weighting of your graded sections accordingly so that you are not penalized. No such accommodation is made for students who enroll on the 5th day or later. (Such students must enroll through the MPAA advising center in RLM, and ordinarily I do not admit students who ask to enroll then if they have missed any graded activities).

Drop dates: Aug 31 is the last day to drop without approval of the department chair; Sept 11 is the last day to drop the course for a possible refund; Nov 3 is the last day an undergraduate student may, with the dean's approval, withdraw from the University or drop a class except for urgent and substantiated, nonacademic reasons. For more information about deadlines for adding and dropping the course under different circumstances, please consult the Registrar's web page,

Computers: We don't make use of sophisticated software in this class, but if you find this interesting, you are welcome to use the department's computer facilities. Our 40-seat undergrad computer lab in RLM 7.122, is open to all students enrolled in Math courses. Students can sign up for an individual account themselves in the computer lab using their UT EID. We have most of the mainstream commercial math software: Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, etc., and an assortment of open source programs. If you come to my office you will see me use some of this software to help illustrate concepts. Please see me if you would like more information.

You may find the online row reducer useful for completing computational homeworks. If you have a graphing calculator, you can do it in there as well.


The mid-term exams will be September 21, October 19, and November 23. There will be no class the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) The last day of class is Friday, Dec 4. Please mark these dates and the date of your final now. If there is any change in these dates I will announce them several times in class and change this file.

The following table is a tentative schedule for the course. Please be aware that material may be reordered, added or deleted. Pay attention in class --- I'll let you know if we're doing something different.

I flag a few sections as "hard" just to tell you when you have to be extra careful about details, or when you may find the theory kind of hard to wrap your brain around.