No bullshit guide to linear algebra

I’m happy to announce the No bullshit guide to linear algebra (student edition) is ready: The core chapters—the stuff that shows up on exams are done. If you have a linear exam coming up, we’ve got what you need.

For the price of a case of beer, you could have an understanding of linear algebra.

Now if you’re a cheapo like me, you’ll say “why the hell do I need to give you money, when there are free books out there?” I understand you. Perhaps you’d like this free tutorial: LA. See also MECH. By reading these short tutorials, I hope to convince you that synthesis of information (i.e. the order of the concepts and choosing an appropriate level of detail) is possible and desirable. Synthesis helps with understanding. If a subject can be summarized in just a few pages, then a full textbook on the subject shouldn’t be bigger than a couple hundred pages, including prerequisites. I call this “information distillation.”

The 1000pp+ textbooks are a scam. Don’t be duped. Get the No bullshit guide to linear algebra. It’s 1/10th the price, 1/2 the size, and 3 times better than a mainstream textbook.  In the news: [HN1], [HN2]. The price is 50% OFF until April 1st.


BTW, this is the second book in the “No bullshit” series. The No bullshit guide to math and physics is the first. It covers high school math, mechanics, differential calculus,  and integral calculus in 383 pages. You should definitely check it if you’re taking one of these classes.

Opportunity costs

Recently, after conversations with friends who work in industry, I’ve been questioning my “career strategy” of pursuing a textbook publishing startup. Generally speaking, the employability of a new graduate is at its peak at graduation. Industry accepts young CS graduates and tells them “Here is 70k, write this code for us” and after a few years they could be pulling in 130+k, which is prof-level income. Regardless of one’s future goals in life a little injection of cash for a person in their thirties sounds like a good thing to have. In general working is a good career move.

Using the language of economics there are opportunity costs of doing the startup thing. First there is the short term financial losses of not having a San Francisco software developer salary right now. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I may be sabotaging my career options should I ever decide to go to industry. Recruiters will ask “what did you do for the past two years?” So doing the startup thing (i.e. not doing the corporate thing) has multiple opportunities costs.

Though such thoughts do turn around in my head, I remained and remain undeterred. I just realized why—this is the inspiration for this post. There are opportunity costs with the corporate career too. This knowledge that I have fresh in my mind after teaching undergraduate math and physics for the last ten years will soon be forgotten. Certainly after two years in industry, I would not remember half the things I can recall off the top of my head right now.

So this is why, now I know, I subconsciously chose this path. We godda do this now and we’ll code later, si besoin.

Aside: I just previewed the latest linear algebra draft and it looks awesome! I’ve been slogging through the corrections during the past couple of weeks (actually months!) and I was feeling low on energy, but now that I see how close we are to the finished product I’m getting all enthusiastic again.

Thoughts and strategy for scaling distribution

I just received news from York University that the book sold out and they need replenishment. The McGill bookstore already sold out twice and I had to replenish their supplies. So in-store sales are working. I’m counting this as validation. Now let’s scale things!

I’ll have to equip the website with a “order a box of 10” option and make a deal with a fulfillment centre so they will take care of the shipping for me. How do I get into WorldCat? Who will print the book in large quantities (Lightning Source?).

I’ve been busy working so much on the Linear Algebra book and preparing exercises that I lost track of the business side of things. I’m going to finish up LA, because it is so close to being done, but I’m vetoing any work on the Electricity and Magnetism title—we’ll pick that up in October and it will be ready for January 2015.

Okay Ivansky. Put on the business hat and get things done!