Numerical Linear Algebra - Math 4310

Instructor:  Professor Stephen Montgomery-Smith
Text Book:   Fundamentals of Matrix Computations, David Watkins, 3rd Ed.

Office: 222 Math Science Building
E-mail: (this is an effective way to communicate with me).
Telephone:  882-4540.  If you get my answering machine, please state your telephone number slowly and clearly.
Office Hours:  Mon 11a.m., Thur 11a.m. or by appointment, or if I am not busy when you turn up.  Please take advantage of office hours.  If these hours are not convenient for you, please see me after class, or email me, and I can see you at a time that is convenient.

There will be a midterm exam that will take place shortly before the last day to drop without a grade (  This midterm will cover (a) the Choleski decomposition and (b) the LU decomposition.

After that, it becomes hard to make exams out of the material.  The algorithms are too difficult to perform by hand.  So the second midterm and the final will be projects, in effect, a 'take home' exam.  There will also be homework.  For homework, I will allow that students help each other, (but don't hand in identical answers.)  But for the take home exams, I am going to ask that you do not work in teams.  If you get stuck, come and ask me.  The third midterm, close to the end of the semester, will test you on knowledge of the theory.  Midterms be preceded by reviews which will tell you what to focus on in studying.

Total 500 points (100 each midterm and final, plus 100 points given to homework.)  All students (undergraduate and graduate) will be graded on a plus minus grading scale.

The homework and take home exams will either asking you proof type questions, or asking you to program some of the algorithms.  You may use any computer language (within reason), but I strongly recommend Matlab.  I will give brief tutorials in Matlab, and anyway, it isn't that hard to use.

Matlab is available on computers in the Engineering School. Also, a student version is available for about $50:

A free alternative to Matlab is Octave. Octave is designed to be completely compatible with Matlab, and most Matlab programs do run on Octave. It is available here:

Software presented in this class may be obtained here: math4310-matlab-files.

Goals of Class:  My intention is that you will have an understanding of the algorithms that we cover.  You should understand why the methods work, and the underlying mathematical principles. Ultimately, the goal is understanding.

Problems with the Instructor:  If you have any problem with this course, please report it to Professor Ian Aberbach (Director of Undergraduate Studies) either by phone (882-7682) or by e-mail (

American Disabilities Act:  If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class, or at my office. or contact me by email or by phone.

To request academic accommodations (for example, a notetaker), students must also register with the Office of Disability Services, (, S5 Memorial Union, 882-4696. It is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations, and for accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with course requirements. For other MU resources for students with disabilities, click on "Disability Resources" on the MU homepage.

Academic Dishonesty:  Academic integrity is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards breaches of the academic integrity rules as extremely serious matters. Sanctions for such a breach may include academic sanctions from the instructor, including failing the course for any violation, to disciplinary sanctions ranging from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, collaboration, or any other form of cheating, consult the course instructor.

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