Carnegie Mellon Blackboard

21-241 Matrix Algebra

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Linear algebra covers material which is essential to anyone who does any mathematical computation in engineering and the sciences. In application and in class, the subject divides naturally into two parts: computation and formal structure.

These are intimately related, but operationally distinct: on the one hand, computations with matrices and linear equations can be made into efficient algorithms, in mental code or in computer code, and, once created, these can be carried out with little attention to the theory. On the other band, in order to understand, to choose and then correctly optimize the applications of linear algebra, it is necessary to see the underlying formal algebraic structure.

What does this mean for this course? Your challenge will be to master the algorithmic aspects of the subject, without thinking that this is all that there is to the subject, and to deal with the underlying formal structure by using the concrete model of matrices and vectors as a guide and as a tool.

Learning Objectives

  1. Master the computational techniques required to solve a variety of problems in linear algebra.
  2. Gain an understanding of the mathematical structures that help us to understand those problems.
  3. Develop your ability to reason mathematically: to think precisely about mathematical problems and express yourself clearly in writing.

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The description gives a brief overview of the topics we will discuss this semester. The learning objectives give an itemized list of the skills you should be developing. The list of learning objectives may give you some useful direction in terms of studying for exams.

Course Information

Times and rooms for lecture and recitation sections.


Provides information about the course: posting of homework, changes to office hours, times and locations for review sessions, and general announcements.


List of topics to be covered each week, with links to reading assignments and homework.


Information about the calculation of grades, dates for exams, policies for late assignments and other matters. Familiarize yourself with these policies early in the semester.