MATH 341: Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory

General Information

      Instructor: Dave Rusin ( 
      Office hrs: MWF 11-12, MF 1-2, 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: Andrilli & Hecker, Elementary Linear Algebra (fourth edition)

      This class (UniqID 55750) meets MWF 10:00-11:00am in BUR 220.
      This particular section is currently waitlisted; if you think
      you will drop the course, please do so promptly and allow
      another student to take it.

      Your final exam is Saturday, December 13, 2:00-5:00 pm. 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.

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.


You asked me to write down the homework assignments that I announced in class. I will keep them on a separate page here

It has been pointed out to me that I said in this document that there would be "a mix" of multiple choice and other questions on the tests. That was actually a cut and paste error but if you would like, we can move away from the 0:1 ratio of multiple choice vs other questions on the next exam. Let me know your preference.


Vector spaces, linear transformations, matrices, linear equations, determinants. Some emphasis on rigor and proofs.

The emphasis in this course is on understanding the concepts and learning to use the tools of linear algebra and matrices. The course is proof-based. The fundamental concepts and tools of the subject covered are:


Mathematics 408D with a grade of at least C-

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. Math 341 is ordinarily limited to math majors, and Math 340L is more appropriate for non-math majors. Please see an advisor in MPAA (on the ground floor of RLM) if you need assistance enrolling in the appropriate Linear Algebra course.

A strong mathematics major should take Mathematics 341 immediately after M408D; those who are unready to take a proof-based course should take M325K or a similar course first.

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.

Please note that the answer to a home question will never be something like a "6" with a big circle around it. Most of your questions will come to you in the form of words, and you will give me back a few sentences of response. So your answers are not necessarily called "correct" or "incorrect"; there are "good" responses and "less good" ones. We will spend the semester trying to get used to the good ones!

Exams: There will be 2 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. I expect the midterm dates to be October 6 and November 3.

Please mark on your calendars now the time and date of the final exam. (I don't know yet what room the final exam will be held in.) 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.

Attendance: I will be at class every day and expect you to be, too. Please note that we WILL have class the day before Thanksgiving. Sorry. The last day of class is Dec 5.

Letter Grades

Your semester grade is based only on the number of points accumulated from the above mix of 500 possible points. I will use this conversion table:
Point total Semester grade
450-500 A
440-449 A-
430-439 B+
400-429 B
390-399 B-
380-389 C+
350-379 C
340-349 C-
330-339 D+
300-329 D
290-299 D-
0-299 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 have set the scale above from experience 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.)

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: Sept 2 is the last day to drop without approval of the department chair; Sept 12 is the last day to drop the course for a possible refund; Nov 4 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 asortment 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 following table is a tentative schedule for the course. Please be aware that material may be reordered, added or deleted.