MA242 A1 - Linear Algebra - Fall 2009
Syllabus and Detailed Course Information
For a .pdf version, click here.

Contact Information

Instructor: Margaret Beck
Office: MCS 233
Phone: 617-358-3314
Email: mabeck -at-
Office Hours: T 11-12 and Th 10-11, or by appointment.
Course website:

Class details


Textbook and topics covered

The book we will use is "Linear Algebra and its Applications," 3rd Ed., by David C. Lay; Addison Wesley, 2003. ISBN number 0-201-70970-8. If you have a slightly different edition of this textbook, it is likely it will work fine. Please check with me to be sure. I will also place a copy of this book on reserve in the Science and Engineering Library (38 Cummington St.). Time-permitting, we will cover most of Chapters 1-6. This includes Linear Equations in Linear Algebra, Matrix Algebra, Determinants, Vector Spaces, Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors, and Orthogonality and Least Squares.


The discussion section will be held on Mondays from 1-2pm. I strongly encourage you to attend. During discussion you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the material covered in lecture and the homework. Also, I may go through additional examples that we do not have time for during lecture.

Homework assignments will be given during each lecture and posted on the website. I encourage you to work through them each week. Please get help from me, a friend, the tutoring room, or any other appropriate source if you do not understand something.

Some of the problems will be collected and graded, and I will tell you which ones in advance. These problems should be entirely your own work - you should not ask anyone for help with them and I will not work through them in discussion section. They will typically be very similar to some of the problems that are not to be turned in.
Tests and Final Exam

The two tests will be held during lecture on Tuesday, October 6, and Thursday, November 12, from 3:30-5pm. These tests will not be cumulative, and you will not be allowed to use your book, notes, or a calculator. I will tell you exactly what material they will cover the week before each test. This information will also be posted on the website.

The final exam will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 3-5pm. It will be cumulative, covering all the material of the course. You will not be allowed to use your book, notes, or a calculator.

Make-up tests and exams

I do not give make-up tests unless you have a legitimate excuse, such as a serious illness or family emergency. In such a circumstance you must provide a written (not email) excuse. If possible, please discuss this with me in advance.

Please note the date and time of the final exam (Wednesday, Dec 16, 3-5pm) and make your travel plans accordingly. University policy states that you must take the final exam at the scheduled time, and so no make-up will be given.

Extra help

If you have any questions about the material discussed in class or any other aspect of the course, please feel free to stop by my office (MCS 233) during my office hours (Tuesdays 11-12 and Thursdays 10-11am). You may also email me to schedule an appointment at another time. Please don't be afraid/embarrassed/etc to ask for help. It is most effective if you do so as soon as you feel you need it. Waiting until just before the final exam is generally not a good idea.

I also encourage you to go to the tutoring room, MCS 144, where there are graduate students to help you most days from 10am-4pm. The exact schedule can be found at Prof. Diane Meuser also offers math help on Tuesdays from 7:30-10:30pm in Study Lounge B12, Basement of Claflin Hall, West Campus. Check her webpage for more details. In addition, you can get peer tutoring from the Education Research Center. See for more information. All of these services are free.

Academic conduct

Plagiarism and cheating are not tolerated under any circumstances. Please refer to the BU academic conduct code if you are unclear about what constitutes appropriate behavior.