Math 54, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, Spring 2011.

DSP students: your final will be at 736 Evans, starting at 5:30PM on May 11, 2011.

Final Exam: Due to space limitations, both Math 54 section 2 and Plantbi 13 section 1 are scheduled to have final examinations in 100 Haas Pavilion on Wednesdayday, May 11th, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. The seating capacity is 990. See space allotment plan for 100 Haas Pavilion. We will occupy the front section of the gymnasium and Plantbi 13 will occupy the back section (there are about 60 of them.)

In this course, we will learn some of the most basic concepts in linear algebra and differential equations, two different but related subjects.

Many physical phenomena are governed by differential equations. For example, the rotation of the solar planets around the sun can be accurately described by a set of time-dependent differential equations. Linear algebra will provide the basic tools necessary to solve these differential equations (most commonly) on a computer.

This information document covers the following subjects: how to contact the staff, Prerequisites, Math 49, textbook, handouts, course work and grading, Sample Exams, homework assignments, and quiz and exam dates.

Section enrollments are entirely done online. So if you are waitlisted, check online often to see if you can enroll. Students must go to the section in which they are assigned, with no exceptions. If you have more questions about enrollment, please contact the instructor directly or email the Director of Student Services, Barbara Peavy, at l

If you have a general question about something that is NOT covered here, or if you wish to talk with the GSIs or me, the easiest way is to come during office hours. Otherwise, please make an appointment by sending electronic mail.


Instructor Prof. Ming Gu
Office: Evans 861
Office Hours: MF 4:00-5:00PM, W 1:00-2:00PM or by appointment.
Phone: 642-3145
Email: mgu@math



1A and 1B or equivalent. It is important to note that calculus courses at most institutions either have no differential equations, or less than Berkeley's Math 1B. Transfer students who have taken such a course need to learn that differential equations material (Stewart, Calculus: Early Transcendentals for Berkeley, Chapters 9 and 17) on their own. Please contact me if you have any concerns on this policy.

Math 49 Options

You can take this course as Math 49 with reduced credits if you would like to take only the linear algebra part or only the ODE part of the course. However, please note that we spend about 2/3 of the time on linear algebra. We also spend 1/3 of the time on ODE and ask the students to learn much of ODE material on their own if they did not have the necessary background (see prerequisites). As is required by the Math Department, we would need to sign an individual contact for every Math 49 student.


Our textbook is Due to its massive size, we will not be able to cover the whole book. We will largely follow the course outline provided by the Math Department both in terms of the material to be covered in the classroom and the amount of time spent on each chapter.


No handouts will be distributed in the class; they are all instead on the class home page at

Course Work and Grading

There are a total of 100 points you can earn toward your final grade in the course. There will be two midterm exams. The better of the two is worth 25 points and the worse 15 points. The final exam is worth 35 points. All exams will be graded by the GSIs and myself. In addition to exams, there will be up to 5 quizzes and 13 homeworks, with quiz worth 3 points and each homework 1 point.Only the best 10 homeworks will be counted towards the final grade. Homeworks are due on Wednesdays.See below for the list of quiz days. Most of the quiz problems will be similar to homeworks in levels of difficulty. See below for quiz dates.

The students are allowed, but not encouraged, to skip one midterm. In such a situation, the midterm will be worth 30 points and the final 45.

Quiz and Exam Dates

The exams will be cumulative. We will have a review session and provide sample exams before each of the three exams. There will be no make-up midterm exams or quizzes. We will give no credit for written homework turned in after the due date. The only exception to this policy is medical or personal emergencies.

Since quiz problems are chosen by the GSIs individually, there likely will be differences in levels of difficulties in them. To maintain a high level of fairness, we will scale the quiz grades so that each discussion section will have the same mean and standard deviation for overall quiz grades. Your final letter grade will be determined based on your own performance. I hope everyone will excel in this course.

Sample Exams

Homework Assignments

Grades of Incomplete will be granted only for dire medical or personal emergencies that cause you to miss the final, and only if your work up to that point has been satisfactory.