Syllabus – Math 3304, Introduction to Linear Algebra, Spring 2019


Daniel R. Reynolds

Class and Office Hours:

Lecture: 126 Clements Hall, Tu/Th, 2:00-3:50 pm.

Office Hours: 139 Clements Hall, Tu/Th 1-2 pm, W 9-10 am and 1-3 pm, or by appointment (arrange by email).

TA Help Sessions: Math department graduate students run free help sessions in Clements Hall room 225, Monday-Thursday from 4:30-7:30 pm. I strongly recommend that you attend these before visiting the ALEC.

Textbook and Web pages:

David C. Lay, Linear Algebra and Its Applications, Pearson, 5th edition, 2015. (ISBN: 9780321982384).

Course Description:

MATH 3304 – Introduction to Linear Algebra [3 credits]

Matrices and linear equations, Gaussian elimination, determinants, rank, geometrical notions, eigenvalue problems, coordinate transformations, norms, inner products, orthogonal projections, and Gram–Schmidt and least squares. Includes computational exercises related to these topics.

Prerequisites: C– or higher in MATH 1338 or MATH 1340.

Educational Outcomes:

  • Students can solve a system of linear equations or the equivalent matrix or vector equation using Gaussian elimination.
  • Students can solve problems that demonstrate they understand the concepts of linear independence, span, nullspace, column space, and rank.
  • Students can determine the eigenvectors and eigenvalues of a matrix and use them in applications.


Computing assignments in this class will be performed in Matlab, unless otherwise approved by the instructor. Because SMU has a site license for Matlab you may install Matlab free-of-charge on your personal computer using SMU’s site license by following the instructions at, in particular, follow their instructions

  1. Create a MathWorks Account using your SMU email address


  1. Please contact the Help Desk at for your Activation Key.

Matlab is also available on most public computers across campus, and is available “in the cloud” at

For additional information on accessing Matlab, please see the Matlab Access page.


Reading the sections of the textbook is required, and will be necessary for completing each homework assignment. You are responsible for all of the material in the assigned reading, whether it has been presented in the lecture or not.

Specific passages for each section are listed on the Reading page.

Warm-up Quizzes:

Prior to each lecture, you must complete a short quiz based on your reading for that topic; these will be turned in on Canvas. These “warm-up” quizzes must be completed before the beginning of class (late work will not be accepted). The goal of these problems is for you to think about each topic before class, so that it will be easier to learn during discussion. If all problems are attempted, the lowest possible grade you can attain on this is a 70.

It is recommended that you work on these problems together.


Homework will be assigned on the course Homework page. These will generally be due each week throughout the semester, and will be comprised of both theoretical and computational (Matlab) work. These assignments will be due by 5:00 pm on the specified due date. These may be turned in during class or brought to my office.

Theoretical problems must be done on your own.

Matlab problems may be done with other students, although you must actually do the problems in your own Matlab session. To turn in these problems you should print out a Matlab “diary” of all commands and output that you used to solve the problem, and staple this to the end of your written problems.

Late homework must be scanned to a single PDF file and turned in by email to the professor. Late homework will lose points based on the following schedule:

  • 1 minute to 24 hours – 20%
  • 24 hours to 48 hours – 50%
  • over 48 hours – no credit


We will have 2 in-class exams, the dates of which are posted on the course web page. The exam questions will be based off of the reading and homework. These exams will be non-cumulative, and will be open-book/open-notes, but calculators and other electronic devices are prohibited.

We will have a final exam during the regularly-scheduled exam period (5/14, 11:30 am). This will be cumulative, though will be more heavily weighted to new material. The final exam is also open-book/open-notes, but again calculators and other electronic devices are prohibited.


Your course grade will be determined using the following formula:

10% Quizzes

30% Homework

30% Mid-term exams

30% Final exam

If your final exam grade is higher than your lowest regular exam grade, then I will instead determine your grade using the formula:

10% Quizzes

30% Homework

15% Best mid-term exam

45% Final exam

This grading scheme is somehow too complex for Canvas to handle, so the overall grade shown in Canvas will be incorrect. As this is an upper-level Math course and I provide all numerical grades and the formula to you, I expect that you can determine your actual overall grade yourself. All final grades are assigned on a standard grading scale.

Honor Code:

The SMU Honor Code applies to all homework and exams in this course. Work submitted for evaluation must represent your own individual effort. Any giving or receiving of aid without my express consent on academic work submitted for evaluation shall constitute a breach of the SMU Honor Code.

I take honor code violations very seriously, and will report all violations to the SMU Honor Council. The minimum penalty for a violation is a “0” on the assignment, and the maximum penalty is immediate failure of the course. These penalties are in addition to those imposed by the SMU Honor Council.

Examples of honor code violations include:

  • Submitting a Matlab diary produced by someone else’s work.
  • Copying homework solutions from any source: online, another student, or even a tutor.
  • Supplying your own homework for another student to copy.
  • Cheating on an exam.

A generally applicable rule of thumb in this course is: you are encouraged to talk about general problem strategy, or to discuss specific details about non-assigned problems. However, you should not look at another student’s homework, or discuss their work in sufficient detail for you to turn in something that you could not recreate entirely on your own.

See the SMU Honor Code website for more information.

SMU Regulations:

Disability Accommodations: Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first register with Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS). Students can call 214-768-1470 or visit to begin the process. Once registered, students should then schedule an appointment with the professor as early in the semester as possible, present a DASS Accommodation Letter, and make appropriate arrangements. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice to implement.

Religious Observance: Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify their professors in writing at the beginning of the semester, and should discuss with them, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence. (See “Religious Holidays” under University Policy No. 7.22).

Excused Absences for University Extracurricular Activities: Students participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled University extracurricular activity should be given the opportunity to make up class assignments or other graded assignments missed as a result of their participation. It is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with the instructor prior to any missed scheduled examination or other missed assignment for making up the work. (See 2018-2019 University Undergraduate Catalogue).

Campus Carry: In accordance with Texas Senate Bill 11, also known as the “campus carry” law, following consultation with the entire University community SMU determined to remain a weapons-free campus. Specifically, SMU prohibits possession of weapons (either openly or in a concealed manner) on campus. For more information, please see: