LAFF Banner

What's New?

  • Fall 2014: In addition to LAFF, which is an introductory undergraduate treatment of linear algebra, Robert is now videotaping his graduate course on Numerical Linear Algebra. Access these and other materials on the wikipage for his course: Click on "Calendar of Course" on that page to acccess the videos and notes.

    LAFF was carefully designed to be an online course. It took a year of hard work on the part of several authors to design that course, create a book, and produce about 270 videos. In contrast, the graduate course is an ongoing project where Robert simply tapes his lectures with a camera and makes the same materials available to the world as he makes available to his own students. In other words, it does not receive the same level of tender loving care as LAFF did. One could say it is receiving NO tender loving care at all... Use them as you feel fit, but don't expect any support. Materials will be posted as they become available for his class.

  • Spring 2015: LAFF will again be offered on the edX platform. Registration is open.


LAFF started as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) funded in part by the University of Texas System and the National Science Foundation (grant ACI-1148125), created by Prof. Robert van de Geijn and Dr. Maggie Myers at The University of Texas at Austin, and launched on the edX platform . The materials continue to be available with edX until Sept. 15, 2014 .

Register for the Spring 2015 LAFF offering on edX

This webpage makes the materials developed for that course available in the form of an e-book that integrates the videos and interactive activities. It will remain active even after the edX course is closed on Sept. 15, 2014.

Watch the edX LAFF "Sizzler"

What is LAFF?

LAFF is an experiment in a number of different dimensions.

  • It is a resource that integrates a text, a large number of videos (more than 270 by last count), and hands-on activities.

  • It connects hand calculations, mathematical abstractions, and computer programming.

  • In encourages you to develop the mathematical theory of linear algebra by posing questions rather than outright stating theorems and their proofs.

  • It introduces you to the frontier of linear algebra software development.

Our hope is that this will enable you to master all the standard topics that are taught in typical introductory undergraduate linear algebra course.

Who should LAFF?

Here are some people who may want to consider LAFF:

  • The Independent Beginner. There were MOOC participants for whom LAFF was their first introduction to linear algebra beyond the matrix manipulation that is taught in high school. These were individuals who possess a rare talent for self-learning that is unusual at an early stage in one's schooling. For them, LAFF was a wonderful playground. Others like them may similarly benefit from these materials.

  • The Guide. What we also hope to deliver with LAFF is a resource for someone who is an effective facilitator of learning (what some would call an instructor) to be used, for example, in a classroom setting. While this individual may or may not have our level of expertise in the domain of linear algebra, what is important is that she/he can use the LAFF materials to guide, inspire, and teach.

  • The Refresher. At some point, a student or practitioner of mathematics (in engineering, the physical sciences, the social sciences, business, and many other subjects) realizes that linear algebra is as fundamental as is calculus. This often happens after the individual has already completed the introductory course on the subject and now he/she realizes it is time for a refresher. From our experience with the MOOC, LAFF seems to delight this category of learner. We sequence the material differently from how a typical course on "matrix computations" presents the subject. We focus on fundamental topics that have practical importance and on raising the participant's ability to think more abstractly. We link the material to how one should translate theory into algorithms and implementations. This seemed to appeal even to MOOC participants who had already taken multiple linear algebra courses and/or already had advanced degrees.

  • The Graduate Student. This is a subcategory of The Refresher. The material that is incorporated in LAFF are meant in part to provide the foundation for a more advanced study of linear algebra. The feedback from those MOOC participants who had already taken linear algebra suggests that LAFF is a good choice for those who want to prepare for a more advanced course. Robert will expect the students who take his graduate course in Numerical Linear Algebra to have the material covered by LAFF as a background, but not more.

If you are still trying to decide whether LAFF is for you, you may want to read some of the Reviews of LAFF (The MOOC) on CourseTalk.

But What About Python?

We use IPython Notebooks to help you master the abstractions and algorithms that you encounter in the course. However,

  • You do not need to know any programming before you start!
    (We use programming and Python in a very limited way.)

  • You will not learn Python from this course
    (Again: We use programming and Python in a very limited way.)

So, don't let Python stop you!

Get the Notes!

The "Notes to LAFF With" are a PDF book that becomes the "hub" through which the other LAFF material (e.g., the videos) can be accessed. It goes beyond the notes that were released as part of the edX MOOC by also providing an index into the materials and incorporating extensive solutions for the homework exercises. View the video on the left to get an idea of how this document helps you LAFF.

You pick your price!

We are trying a different approach to distributing this project. You get to decide how much you can afford and/or how much LAFF is worth to you. In part, we do this because we are too busy trying to get the materials done to have time to really think about what to charge. In part, it is to make sure that publishers don't make a rediculous profit at the expense of students.

For the sake of full disclosure: Funds raised here will not go to UT-Austin or edX. The materials developed for the LAFF project are the intellectual property of the faculty who created it. What you pay will be used by the authors as they see fit. If enough funds are raised, we will feel considerable pressure to use these in part to create further materials for LAFF or followup projects.

This site is self-funded by the authors.

LAFF Notes Cover

This is a work in progress. Our goal was to make these notes available to participants of the LAFF MOOC hosted by edX as that course came to completion. You may have to come back and get a new copy every once in a while. For now (and maybe for always if this method of distribution works), getting an update will be free.

These materials come with no warrantee. Any defect in the materials will be corrected at the author's discretion. We reserve the right to take down these materials with no notice.

If you reside outside the state of Texas:

Pay via PayPal

Pick your price
If you reside in the state of Texas:
(You will be charged Texas sales tax.)

Pay via PayPal

Pick your price
If you prefer not using PayPal, purchase on

(We prefer you use one of the options listed above.)

Financially Strapped Student Pricing

Successful Professional Pricing

(after you buy on, Download the additional materials)
If you fall in one or more of the following categories:
  • You already purchased the notes and wish to get the latest updated version.

  • You cannot afford $20.

  • You would like to look at "Notes to LAFF With" first before purchasing.

  • You sent us multiple bug reports (which was much appreciated). Please accept the notes as our "Thank You" gift!

  • You believe that LAFF is priceless and hence attaching a price to it is just wrong.

LAFF Notes
Click to download for free

Obviously, if few choose to pay, the experiment will fail. We will then have to stop supporting LAFF and you may have to go back to purchasing traditional textbooks from traditional publishers.


Last modified: Wednesday June 11 17:46:40 CDT 2014