Linear Algebra
MATH 310

Fall 2009
TR 2:003:15
Harris Hall 2120

Instructor: Richard Hammack
Office: Harris 4105
Work: 828-6237 (and voice mail)
Office hours:
Fax: 828-8785
Tuesday 10:00–10:50 & 12:30–1:45
Home: 353-8572 (before 9:30 p.m., please)
Thursday 10:00–10:50 & 3:30–4:30
E-mail: rhammack @
and by appointment
Web page:  

Prerequisite: MATH 200 and either MATH 201 or MATH 300

Required Text: You may use either one of the following two texts.
Elementary Linear Algebra, Fifth Edition, by Larson, Edwards and Falvo (ISBN 0-618-33567-6)
Elementary Linear Algebra, Sixth Edition, by Larson and Falvo (ISBN: 0-618-78376-8)

Optional Solutions Manual: Depending on which edition you use, you may wish to purchase one of the following student solution manuals.
Student Solutions Manual for Fifth Edition, by Larson (ISBN: 0-618-33568-4)
Student Solutions Manual for Sixth Edition, by Larson (ISBN: 0-618-78377-6)

It does not matter which of these two texts you get, except that you will probably find that the fifth edition is MUCH cheaper. However the VCU Bookstore does not carry it. Look for good prices on line.

Material from Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 is covered. There will be weekly graded homework assignments and quizzes and a final exam. Your grade is determined by scores on homework, quizzes, participation and the final exam. Details follow.

Weekly homework assignments are collected, graded and returned.
  • Papers are collected at the beginning of class on appointed days.
  • Exceptionally sloppy work may not be graded.
  • If you miss class when homework is due, give it to me early or have a classmate turn it in for you.
  • Please send homework by email or fax only when absolutely necessary (e.g. in the event of illness or emergency).
  • Late homework is usually not graded.
  • I encourage you to work together on homework, though the work you turn in must be your own.
  • Some homework problems are intended to make you think about ideas not discussed in class.
In addition to the work you hand in, you should work lots of extra problems for practice. A list of suggested odd-numbered problems is attached to this syllabus. Some of these problems may appear on the in-class quizzes.

There will be a short quiz almost every week:
  • Each quiz closed-book and closed-notes.
  • Use of calculators or other computing technology is not allowed on quizzes.
  • No electronic devices of any type (other than a watch) may be used during any quiz.
  • Several of your lowest quiz grades will be dropped
  • All quizzes are written under the assumption that you are studying the material at least 6 hours per week outside of class.

Participation means that you in some way demonstrate intellectual involvement in the course. It does not necessarily mean that you ask questions and volunteer answers. Active participation may include your working lots of exercises, taking advantage of office hours, and displaying preparedness, dedication and intellectual curiosity. Things that could cause you to lose participation points include sleeping in class, excessive absence, texting in class, or other rude behaviors. (Not that you would do any of these things!)

Final Exam: The final exam is comprehensive, covering material from chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. It is closed-book and closed-notes. It is scheduled for 1:00–3:50 p.m. on Tuesday December 8.

The 10-point grading scale is used:
A: 90100
B: 8089
C: 7079
D: 6069
F: 059
Your final average will be computed as follows:

Quizzes: 40%
Homework: 25%
Participation: 5%
Final Exam: 30%

Missed quizzes or exam: I do not give makeup quizzes. I will drop several of your lowest quiz grades. If the number of quizzes you missed does not exceed the number of dropped quiz grades, then your missed quizzes will count as dropped quiz grades. If you miss the final exam for a legitimate reason (i.e. a documented illness or emergency) then I can give you a grade of Incomplete (I) for the course, and you will need to make up the missed exam.

Attendance: I do not take attendance, but I do notice if you are not attending class. If your grades are high, I do not mind if you miss class occasionally; otherwise excessive absences may result in a reduced participation score. You are responsible for all material covered in class. I do not make the distinction between an excused absence and an unexcused absence. Any kind of absence may potentially affect your grade.

As a matter of courtesy, you should arrive punctually and stay for the entire duration of each class you attend. Please inform me ahead of time if you must leave early.

Internet: Information about this course is posted on the Internet. To find it, go to my home page ( and click on "Math 310." There you will find the syllabus, homework assignments, a calendar, and other resources.

Cell Phones: Please be sure that all cell phones and other electronic devices (including iPods, BlackBerries and laptops) are turned off and stowed away for the entire duration of each class. Leaving such devices on may lower your participation score.

Office: Please feel free to stop by my office whenever you have a question, or if you just want to chat. If my posted hours are inconvenient, I will be happy to schedule an appointment. Tell me if you are having trouble. Catching up can be very difficult once you get behind, so let me know as soon as you think there is a problem.

Exercises: You should do as many of the following exercises as you can for practice. Answers to most are in the back of your text. Many of these problems will be used for the in-class tests and exams. Notice that the numbers of the exercises differ depending on which edition of the text you are using.

  Fifth Edition   Sixth Edition
  1–45 (odd)   1–29, 37–55 (odd)
  1–31, 39–61 (odd)   1–35, 43–61 (odd)
  1–17, 21–37 (odd)   1–17, 21–53 (odd)
  1–25, 31, 35–39 (odd)   1–25, 35–41 (odd)
  1–19, 25, 27, 31–37 (odd)   1–19, 25, 27, 33–41 (odd)
  1–27 (odd)   1–31 (odd)
  1–33, 41–51 (odd)   1–33, 41–53 (odd)
  1–39 (odd)   1–47 (odd)
  1–13, 19–31, 35–43 (odd)   1–17, 23–41, 45–53 (odd)
  1–11 (odd), 19   1–13 (odd), 25
  1–21, 25–37, 41–53 (odd)   1–31, 35–49, 55–67 (odd)
  1–37 (odd)   1–41 (odd)
  1–31 (odd)   1–47 (odd)
  1–59 (odd)   1–69 (odd)
  1–65 (odd)   1–85 (odd)
  1–23, 27, 29, 33–45, 49–53 (odd)   1–65 (odd)
  1–19, 23, 25, 29–35 (odd)   1–17, 29–31, 35–47, (odd)
  1–41 (odd)   1–57 (odd)
  1–19,  23–47 (odd)   1–27,  31–55 (odd)
  1–19,  25–59 (odd)   1–29,  39–73 (odd)
  1–27, 39–55 (odd)   1–27, 51–65 (odd)
  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 13–27 (odd)   1–13, 17–51 (odd)

Last day to add/drop
: August 26
Last day to withdraw: October 30

Accommodations: Any student eligible for and needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability should contact me within the first week of class. The VCU Disability Support Services web site is

VCU Honor System:  All VCU students are presumed upon enrollment to have acquainted themselves with and have an understanding of the Honor System. Therefore, it is a student's responsibility to ask course instructors to clarify expectations for each assignment in order to be in compliance with the Honor System. The 2009–10 VCU Honor System policy statement and purpose is located at

Classroom Conduct: Professional conduct will be expected at all times.  A description of the VCU Student Conduct in Instructional Settings Policy can be found at:

University Counseling Services: