A Crash Course in Applied Linear Algebra

Hackers frequently need to solve geometric problems for their projects. Whether it’s cutting acrylic on a laser cutter, slicing wood on a table saw, planning the route of a robotic arm on a new 3D printer, or analyzing a polygon mesh in a Python script, a working knowledge of geometry can save time, frustration, and material costs.

This isn’t the geometry you learned in high school, though. This is a crash course in the basic notions of linear algebra, perhaps the most useful branch of mathematics there is.

This course is geared towards demonstrating practical concepts and applications that can be put to use immediately in your own projects. To avoid bogging down the class with tedious details, we will use our computers to perform the calculations for us, allowing us to focus on the big picture and core ideas of each technique we cover.

The only prerequisite for the course is a solid understanding of high school algebra. Exposure to vectors and matrices would be helpful, but not required. There will be a review session before the class officially begins for anyone who wants to brush up on the basics.

Topics for the class:

  • A Review of Coordinates, Vectors, Matrices
  • Examples of Linear and Affine transformations
  • Linearity, Bases, and Where Matrices Come From?
  • Square Matrices, Determinants, and Inverses
  • Application: Solving Systems of  Linear Equations with Gaussian Elimination
  • Dot Products, Angles, and Lengths
  • Cross Products, the Plane Equation, the Normal to a Plane
  • Application: the Line-Plane Intersection Test
  • Triangles and Baricentric Coordinates
  • Application: the Line-Triangle Intersection Test


  • This event is open to the public
  • Prerequisite: High school algebra, some light exposure to vectors and matrices
  • When: Sunday July 20th at 5pm, review session starts at 4:30pm.
  • Where: 3519 N. Elston – 2nd Floor in the Electronics Lab
  • Cost: Free
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