Linear Algebra close to Earth



One of the major difficulties encountered in first year mathematics courses by students registered in programs other than mathematics is that they do not see the relevance of the material for their chosen fields. This can seriously affect their motivation in the course, and their ultimate success. This effect seems to be most pronounced in first year Linear Algebra whereas calculus is more readily seen to be useful.


One question instructors of Linear Algebra get to hear often is: WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW THAT? So why do you need to learn Linear Algebra at all? Is it really useful, or is it just some sort of job creation project for mathematicians?


One reason that linear algebra is appropriate to introduce abstract thinking is that much of the material has geometrical interpretation. One can "visualize" results. The converse is also true: linear algebra helps develop the geometrical instinct.   


While linear algebra has its elegant abstract side, it also has many real-life applications. These range from looking at traffic flow through downtown Moscow to predicting the weather in Vancouver. The following pages represent an attempt to stimulate the interest in Linear Algebra by selecting a wide variety of problems that arise in different topics of that discipline.


This website was created by Dr. Joseph Khoury for a project designed by Dr. Barry Jessup, with funding provided by the University of Ottawa Excellence in Education Prize.






Click here if you want to see a list of all the applications.