Computations

During the first few lectures in the class and in the homework assignments, you will see a lot of computations. I would like to tell you a couple things about this.

In one of the lectures yesterday, I said that the purpose of our class is to have a conceptual understanding of linear algebra. You will not be hired for a job because you can solve a system of linear equations very fast and furious. Maybe 50 years ago, it would have been a useful skill. But today, we have computer programs that can do this for us much quicker and with less errors. So, I am not going to test if you can quickly do row reductions and solve numerical problems in this course.

However: When I said the above to students in the past, I have observed that some thought learning these computational techniques was completely a useless task. This is absolutely not the case.

I strongly recommend that you spend a lot of time during the first two, three weeks of this class on learning how to do these computations. Because, in the coming weeks, we will use observations from these computations to get a feeling for conceptual understanding of the material. We need a lot of examples to help us explore big ideas and learn linear algebra facts.

This is actually the purpose of the MyLab homeworks. You will see that the in-class quiz questions, graded group chat questions, final exam questions will be more conceptual than the online homework questions. But the computational homework questions WILL help you towards an insight for those conceptual questions. Both are essential for a complete understanding of the material.