MA2001 / MA1101R Linear Algebra I

Module: MA2001 / MA1101R Linear Algebra I

Semester taken: AY 2020/21 Semester 1

Lecturer: Dr Victor Tan / Dr Jonathan Teo

Tutor: None

Textbook: Linear Algebra: Concepts & Techniques on Euclidean Space, 2nd ed., Ma S.L. , Ng K.L. & V. Tan, 2014. McGraw Hill

What it is about

This module introduces the world of linear algebra and Euclidean spaces to students, including topics such as system of linear equations, matrix operations, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, etc. It is one of the two mathematics modules that a CS student needs to take, the other being MA1521 Calculus for Computing.

Assessment components

  • Practice sessions: 15%

  • Online quiz: 15%

  • Homework: 20%

  • Final exam: 50%


I was a little dreading this module, as the module title seams so alien and I heard some unfavourable stories about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well structured the module is, and both Dr Tan and Dr Teo are really great tutors who are very knowledgeable about the content and able to deliver it in a way that is easy to understand by the students. The assessment components were very clear from day 1, and the full schedule was made available clearly as well.

Even with the extremely large enrolment size, it did not feel that way at all. Both professors were open to any consultation or questions directed at them, and the amount of practice questions available in the module's textbook were plentiful.


There are two types of lectures in this module, a web lecture and a live lecture. The web lecture videos are recorded lecture videos from a previous semester that covers certain sections of the textbook. The live lecture is a 2-hour lecture session each week where the same material is covered again, but with greater use of examples and the option for students to ask questions during the lecture. The web lecture component was unique, as it replaces a 2-hour lecture session every week and instead, small bite-sized videos were made available to watch at your own time.

I personally felt that this structure is much better, as the lecture is broken down into multiple videos which is easier to watch, rather than sit through a whole 2-hour lecture. However, it still requires some discipline, as the videos need to be watched in order to answer the weekly quizzes that are usually due at the end of the week. The quizzes are mostly multiple choice questions, and they test basic concepts that are covered in the video lectures. Sometimes, Dr Teo may drop some hints for the quizzes during the live lecture, and it is advisable to watch it before you submit your answers for the quiz.

Practice Sessions and Homework

The practice sessions occur on selected weeks, and there were a total of 4 such sessions. The practice sessions are basically small proctored tests where you have to handwrite your answers to some questions within the 1 hour, and submit before the tutorial session is up. The sections covered during the practice sessions are also announced beforehand, and you will need to be able to make use of formulas in those sections to answer the questions.

There were also 2 sets of homework, one due after the recess week and the other due in week 12. The homework questions are tougher than the practice session questions, as you have more time to attempt them (about 2 weeks). Some of the questions can be found online, but most of them have never been seen before. I would advise joining the module's Telegram group, as there will be lots of people inside asking and answering questions related to the homework, which can be rather helpful for you when attempting the homework.

There are also tutorial questions that can be attempted, and Dr Teo provided some recorded videos available in LumiNUS that explains his workings for those questions. The questions are all taken from the textbook, and the answers are provided right at the start of the semester. There are also lab sheets available, which are mostly to guide you on using MATLAB, which is a tool that you can (and definitely should) use during the final exam.

Final Exam

The final exam is an extended form of the practice sessions, with 5 long answer questions in a span of 2 hours. It is Zoom proctored, the questions are delivered using Examplify and the answers are to be handwritten. It is open book and the use of MATLAB is encouraged.

Generally, the questions are not easy, but they are not too difficult either. The standard should be approximately the same as those seen in the homework assignments. It is likely that you would barely be able to finish the final exam in the 2 hours, especially if there is a question that involves a rather large matrix. Be very sure about the commands for MATLAB, as you will need to type them quickly into the software in order to get your answers and get back to writing. There are more than sufficient practice questions in the textbook, be sure to practice the tougher ones to prepare for the final exam.

For the textbook, it is definitely recommended to get one. However, a digital copy is available for free on NUS Libraries, which you can use during the final exam and for doing practice questions. The final answers are also available for you to check.

Other information

Assignment workload: There are 2 homework sets to be completed individually.

Project workload: None

Readings: None

Recommended if: A compulsory module for many science and engineering students, and if you are crazy enough to take this module as an unrestricted elective.

Rating: 4.5/5. A very well organised module with great professors, although the content can get a little tough at times.

Expected grade: B+

Actual grade: A- (probably the large class size helped)

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