MATH 121: College Algebra
James Cook's College Algebra Homepage

Useful Materials and Links:
  1. Homeworks assigned in MyMathLab based on problems from Blitzer. You earn credit by completing these online through MyMathLab. I include these here as study guides for the tests. These problems together with your class notes serve as your test review.
  2. Abbreviated Syllabus:
    - There are three tests, each is worth 200pts.
    - Average of Online Assignments (CourseCompass/MyMathLab) & Quizzes and Written Assignments (quizzes are unannounced, there will be numerous quizzes if the situation warrants them, also this includes class participation): 200 points.
    - Final Exam is worth 200pts.
    - Look at Announcements if ever lose an email from me, I keep all class emails as announcments.)
    - If you add class late it is your responsibility to come to my office hours to take the readiness quiz within 2 days of adding the course.
    - Your grade earned is based on the scale: 600-699 D, 700-799 C, 800-899 B, 900 + A
    - talking/whispering in class is strictly forbidden. If you have a question it should be directed to me (not your neighboor who is trying to take notes).
    - it is never appropriate to ask a question about your own personal grade during lecture. That is an issue for office hours.
    - the official syllabus is posted in Blackboard.
  3. MATH HELP CENTER: Tutoring is available free without an appointment in Science Hall 134 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 7:00 to 10:00 pm.
  4. TUTORING CENTER: Tutoring is available free by appointment in DeMoss 3300.
  5. Matrix Calculator Site - Calculates matrix inverse for you.
  6. Matrix Calculator Site - Multiplies matrices for you ( use to check answers )
  7. NCSU Matrix Calculator Site - Will do the "Gauss-Jordon" row reduction for you ("reduce completely" button).
  8. Wolfram Alpha, a good way to check your answers (and learn more math). To use this site simply write in plain english what you want it to do. For example, try "factor x^3+3x+x-17" and see what happens.

My Old Lecture Notes:
I will not follow these notes precisely this semester. However, if you look through these notes you'll find most of the main calculations I cover in lecture (just not in the same order as I lecture). I am adding a few topics this semester to keep the course fresh. I do expect you take notes in my course. Part of class participation, really the biggest part, it simply the process of taking notes. This costs you nothing but a pen or pencil and some paper, but it is the best thing you can do with your time in a lecture. There is no need to have laptops or cell-phones out during lecture. I will tell you when class is over, relax and take notes. Thanks!
  1. [Pages 1-4] Number systems and the number line. (P.1, 8.3)
  2. [Pages 5-8] Laws of exponents and radicals.(P.2)
  3. [Pages 9-11] Polynomials and polynomial multiplication.(P.3)
  4. [Pages 12-14] Factoring polynomials.(P.4)
  5. [Pages 15-18] Algebra of rational expressions.(P.5)
  6. [Pages 19-21] Graphing equations, circles defined.(1.1, 1.2)
  7. [Pages 22-25] On solving quadratic equations.(1.4)
  8. [Pages 26-30] Applications of quadratic eqns, complex number arithmatic.(1.4,1.5)
  9. [Pages 31-34] Other algebra problems.(1.6)
  10. [Pages 35-38] Inequalities and critical points.(1.7,1.8)
  11. [Pages 39-40] Graphing lines, paralell and perpendicular.(2.1)
  12. [Pages 41-48] Functions, graphs and domains.(2.2,2.3)
  13. [Pages 49-50] Transformation of graphs, adding, subtracting, multiplying and composite functions, inverse functions.(2.4,2.5,2.6,2.7)
  14. [Pages 60-67] Graphs of quadratic functions and models.(3.1)
  15. [Pages 68-73] Graphs of polynomial functions.(3.2)
  16. [Pages 74-76] Theory of polynomials.(lots of places)
  17. [Pages 77-81] Guided factoring and long division.(not in text, 3.3, 3.4)
  18. [Pages 82-87] Rational functions and their asymptotes.(4.1, 4.2)
  19. [Pages 88-92] Compound and continuous interest, exponential functions.(5.1)
  20. [Pages 93-95] Logarithmic functions, graphs and domains.(5.2)
  21. [Pages 96-101] Properties of logarithms and exponentials and solving related equations.(5.3,5.4)
  22. [Pages 102-108] Solving linear and nonlinear systems through graphing and/or subsitution. (6.1,6.2,6.3)
  23. [Pages 109-110] Curve fitting.(6.3)
  24. [Pages 111] Systems of inequalities, linear programming.(6.4,6.5)
  25. [Pages 112-122] Matrix math, solving systems with multiplication by inverse coefficient matrix.(7.2,7.3)
  26. [Pages 123-127] Augmented coefficient matrix, Gauss-Jordon elimination by calculator.(7.1)
  27. [Pages 128-131] Determinants and Kramer's rule.(7.4,7.5))
  28. [Pages 132-134] Encryption by matrix multiplication.(7.5)

Schedule for this semester:
I will follow this one way or another. If there is snow then you will read the material from text on missed class and we will pick back up where we should be in the next scheduled lecture. I will always ask if there are questions, this is to say are there questions about the mathematics. I am not interesting in scoring questions for lecture. If you have those sort of questions they should be brought to the posted office hours and/or emailed. The reason is simply that we should use lecture time for what helps the whole class, not what helps just your score. The whole class is helped when you ask questions about the math concepts. Don't suppose your question is "too stupid", while they are stupid questions, odds are that your question is not stupid and probably many others in the class are stuck on the same question.

For Section 3 (M-W-F schedule)
Our Schedule.

Or, if you are in Section 8 (T-TH schedule):

Our Schedule.
Solutions from previous semesters:
These solutions are on the same material as our course for the most part, however, if a textbook is mentioned below it is not the text we are currently using.

Quiz Solutions from Spring 2010 semester:
Note: this semester I have no fixed plan for quizzes. There might be 30 quizzes, there might be none. It totally depends on class participation and homework participation. The readiness quiz on day 1 is to gauge the prerequisite retention of the class.
  1. Quiz 1 Solution: lines,parabolas, laws of exponents
  2. Quiz 2 Solution: polynomials, factoring and graphing; the factor theorem.
  3. Quiz 3 Solution: polynomials, rational functions, linear and nonlinear inequalities
  4. Quiz 4 Solution: graphing rational functions
  5. Quiz Solution: (take-home, right before spring break) graphing, inverse functions, exponentials and logarithms
  6. Quiz 6 (not the Solution:) graphing rational functions, inverse functions ( don't have a solution, but good for practice)
  7. Quiz 7 Solution: conic section intersection problem
  8. Quiz 8 Solution: graphing inequalities, linear programming
  9. Quiz 9 Solution: conic sections, linear equations

Test Solutions from other semesters:
Note: these are not representative of your tests this semester. They give you a flavor for the length of the test, but the selection of topics is a bit different this semester. In particular, I intend to cover synthetic division, rational roots theorem and Descartes' rule of signs, and slant aymptotes. These topics are all in your MyMathLab assignments. The best review for the exams is the homework. You must do the homework by yourself. In my experience, students who rely on a tutor for homework tend to fail the course. Obviously I don't want you to fail, so think for yourself. Use tutors with care. Accept responsibility for your own actions and profit from this exercise of Christian virtue.
  1. pretest for Test 1, Spring 2010: polynomials and the factor theorem.
  2. Solution for Test 1, Spring 2010:
  3. Solution for Test 2, Spring 2010:
  4. Solution for Test 3, Spring 2010:
  5. Solution for Test 1: solution.
  6. Solution for Test 2: solution.
  7. Solution for Test 3: solution.

Bonus Point Policy:
Bonus points can be earned for correcting errors of a typographical nature. Also particularly insightful questions in lecture may earn bonus points.

Look, Hannah is studying, go do likewise.
Our Schedule.

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Last Modified: 8-28-11