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Syllabus for LAFF Spring 2018

The Instructors

Maggie Myers
Robert van de Geijn

Work you can expect

Materials will be released at the course start. Each section is broken into subsections. Within subsections you will find units that include videos, reading assignments, activities, homework, and MATLAB Online assignments (which is how you will do your programming).

You decide How You Want to Engage in the Course.

If you plan to commit to the lectures, assignments, and tests and want proof of your achievement to give your engagement more validity, then choose the Verified Certificate option. An edX verified certificate shows that you have successfully completed your edX course and verifies your identity through your photo and ID. An edX ID Verified Certificate of Achievement for the course starts at $50. For more information, please visit the edX Verified Certificate info page.

If you want FREE access to all of the lectures, assignments, and tests, then Audit this course and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum.

Satisfactory Completion

Earn a certificate by successfully completing homework and answering three exam. There are 12 weeks for which homework will be submitted. You submit a problem by clicking the “Check” box for each problem. If you miss the question, you can resubmit as many times as you wish. Each week will contribute 5% of the overall course score. The two midterms are worth 10 points and comprehensive final contributes 20%. To earn a certificate, you must accumulate at least 60% of the possible overall score. So, for example, if the average of your weekly homework averages is 75% and you earn a 68% on the midterm and 86% on the final, your overall score would be 75.8%, earning you a certificate of achievement.


There are three exams: two midterms, and a comprehensive final. The midterms cover all topics up to that point in the course and the final covers the entire course. There will be sample exams available to help you study before the exams.

Why do we have the exams? They may provide evidence of what and how much you are learning. But, more importantly, they are part of the learning and understanding process. We understand that your primary goal is to learn linear algebra. While studying for the exams, you will have the opportunity to review, make connections, and learn the hard-to-grasp concepts more deeply. In the end, this should enhance retention of your knowledge and skills. By taking the exam, you also have the chance to evaluate yourself.

Please be sure not to collaborate on the exams. Do not post or answer questions related to the exams on the discussion board. You are encouraged to post and answer questions and conduct discussions related to the sample exams.


Homework is sprinkled throughout the materials. There are different kinds of homework. Originally we were planning to organize these by type but later decided it was more natural to mix them into the material. The types are

  • Practice
  • Exercises to build insight
  • Think about problems (AlwaysSometimesNever and True/False questions that after you answer you are encouraged to prove,)
  • Programming assignments
  • Applications

We recognize individuals have personal learning styles. It is not necessary to complete everything to learn the material or even to earn a certificate. You choose how you want to engage in the course.

Homework Grading

In order to help you pace yourself, we have deadlines for completing graded homework. Some of the interactive exercises will not be graded. We hope you will find them engaging. Most of the homework is completion or multiple-choice. When you click check, your answer is submitted and scored. If you miss a question, try it again(even True/False). Each homework problem conveys the number of points it is worth and the number you have earned. Proofs will not be graded but you will earn 1 point for the correct appraisal of Aways/Sometimes/Never or True/False. Programming assignments will not be graded but you will on your honor to report that you have completed these for 1 point. You don’t need to submit homework problems in order.

The percentage of responses for a given week will be calculated upon the submission deadline for that week. Each week’s homework submission will be 5% of your total. So if you complete 50% of the homework for Week 1, will earn 2.5 percentage points (50% of the 5%) towards the 60 percentage points for a certificate.

The bottom line: If you are serious about learning, we think you will find the material very rewarding.

Textbook information

This course is based on materials found at ULAFF ( Notes derived from these materials are made available one week at a time on the right-hand side of the course notification page (the page that first comes up every time you log in). The notes are structured to fit with the edX platform, with hyperlinks in the PDF document to the corresponding unit of the edX course and links in each unit of the course to the corresponding subsection of the PDF document. We hope this helps you navigate between the notes and the online activities. LOOK FOR THE BANNER:

When can I watch the lectures, read notes, and work on the homework, activies, or programming assignments?

After the release of the learning sequences for the week, you can watch the lectures, read notes, or work on assignments at any time. For a complete schedule, look at the Course Calendar.

Collaboration Guidelines

We always encourage our students to collaborate, as long as the purpose is to learn. Please use the discussion boards to interact with us and other participants. While we would like to interact with you on a more personal level, realize that there are potentially tens of thousands of participants and we trying to have a vacation this summer as well… We simply do not have time to answer your e-mail or take a phone call… We will monitor the discussion forums and will answer questions as quickly as possible.


Please help us create a healthy learning environment by following these simple standards:

  • Be polite. Please treat one another with respect, so 
that everyone can continue to be involved and seek friendly support.
  • Be sensitive. This is a global forum with participants from many different cultures and backgrounds. Be very careful not to offend one another.
  • Post appropriate content. Be supportive. However, avoid posting content that violates the Honor Code or Terms of Service. You may not post inappropriate or copyrighted content, advertise or promote outside products or organizations, or spam the forums with repeat content.
  • Be proud of your posts. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want associated with your name.

Anonymous posts aren’t anonymous to staff. We do not expect to observe any issues because we trust you to keep our forum communities strong and healthy. However, inappropriate posts may be deleted or made invisible to other students by forum moderators. People who repeatedly break these rules may be removed from the course.

Topics Covered

See the course ``Outline'' at the top of this page.

Deadlines and Important Dates

The course starts on 23 January 2018 and closes at 23:00 UTC on 31 May 2018. Materials will be released at the beginning of the course and all homework will be due at course close. You are welcome to choose your own pace. You don't need to do it in order. LAFF is self-paced, but to help guide you to completion, we chunk material into weeks and give a suggested schedule as described on the Course Calendar. While we encourage you to complete a week’s work each week, we realize that life sometimes gets in the way so we have established a flexible schedule. Please don’t procrastinate. Again, the course closes 31 May 2018. While you can miss weekly deadline since they are suggestions, to keep you on track to complete the course, you still must have work done by the course closing to earn a certificate. However, since it is self-paced, if you choose to earn a certificate you won't need to wait until the course closes to receive it. We suggest you complete as much of the material as you need for your goals.

Be Patient With Us!

Please be flexible! We have a busy semester in addition to running this course.

Now, LAFF with us!