The NO BULLSHIT guide to LINEAR ALGEBRA is finally ready. After two years of writing and two years of editing, the book is now complete! Thanks to all the feedback from readers and the amazing attention to detail of my editor Sandy Gordon, the first print release is very polished.

No bullshit guide to linear algebra product shot

Can I see a preview?

I’ve posted an extended preview of the book here (160 pages, PDF) so you can get a feel of what’s included. I tried to make the preview useful on its own: rather than showing only a few pages from the introduction, I’ve included the definitions from all the sections, which are the most important part of the book.

If you’re not interested in reading a whole book, but just want to see the graphical representation of all the linear algebra topics, I encourage you to check the concept maps here. If you’re looking for a quick refresher on linear algebra concepts, you can check the four-page linear algebra summary here.


Why should I learn linear algebra?

Linear algebra is the foundation of science and engineering. Knowledge of linear algebra is a prerequisite for studying statistics, machine learning, computer graphics, signal processing, chemistry, economics, and quantum mechanics. Indeed, linear algebra offers a powerful toolbox for modelling the real world. All areas of advanced science and engineering make use of linear algebra models in one way or another. So essentially, you need to learn linear algebra if you want to do science.


Why do I need this book?

There are many great books about linear algebra that exist out there[1,2,3]. The NO BULLSHIT guide to LINEAR ALGEBRA is special because of the concise, conversational tone it is written in, the prerequisites material it includes, and the numerous exciting applications of linear algebra it discusses. This book is the result of  years of private tutoring, which makes the narrative feel much more like a conversation with a friend rather than a stuffy lecture. I know from experience that many adults don’t remember basic math topics like algebra, functions, and equations, so the book includes a comprehensive review chapter (Chapter 1) to make sure everyone is on board with the fundamentals.

The “main course” of the book (Chapters 2 through 6) consists of all the standard material covered in linear algebra courses with lots of examples, exercises, and practice problems with solutions.

The book concludes with three “dessert” chapters that discuss applications of linear algebra. We start with applications to chemistry, economics, electrical engineering, graph theory, numerical optimization, cryptography, and signal processing (Chapter 7). Next we followup with a chapter on probability theory, Markov chains, and an exploration of Google’s PageRank algorithm (Chapter 8). The book concludes with a chapter that introduces the fundamental ideas of quantum mechanics and quantum computing (Chapter 9). Many of the topics covered in chapters 7, 8, and 9 are considered “advanced” or “graduate level,” but readers of the book who’ve gained a solid grasp of linear algebra concepts will be able to learn about these exciting applications with no problem at all.


Where can I buy this book?

It depends on what you want. The eBook version costs $29 and is a pretty sweet deal since it comes with all future updates. But if you really want to learn the material, you should get the softcover print version, which is much better for focused learning, and costs about the same: \$39 – 20% off = \$31. If money isn’t a constraint for you right now, you should get the hardcover, which is printed on larger paper and has a construction that will last for decades.

Regardless of your choice of medium, you’ll be getting the same high quality book that will introduce you to the wonderful subject of linear algebra in the least intimidating way possible.

20 thoughts on “No bullshit linear algebra v2 release

  1. I looked at the beginning … from my experience I would start off with a discussion of lines and their equations, Nd this WHY it is called linear algebra. And maybe talk about f(cx) = cf(x) and g(x+y) = g(x) + g(y) as two separate properties. It’s a bit jarring for people to encouter linear combinations straight away with no intuition about them.

    1. The thing is that the general equation of a line, \(f(x) = mx+b\), is actually not a linear function. We have to single out “lines through the origin,” which gets complicated quickly. You’re right that it might help to discuss scaling and sum property separately… it’s a bit of a jump to \(ax_1+bx_2\) but it skips to the essence.

  2. Can you bundle in the ebook with the softcover?

    1. Hi, If you get the softcover and email me some sort of proof-of-purchase (e.g. the receipt from lulu or amazon), I’ll send you the PDF for free.

      EDIT: for those who asked, my email is first dot last at the gmails, or first at this domain

  3. How would you compare this to Strang’s book?

    1. Hi Stephen. I’d say it covers mostly the same core topics, but in a different order. I don’t put too much emphasis on proofs and theorems, but rather try to cover the material as part of a conversational flow. This seems to make for easier reading for non-mathematicians, but might not be “rigourous enough” for serious mathematicians.

      Some topics I don’t cover, but which are in Strang: Jordan form, game theory, and several applications like considerations for numerical methods (e.g. the condition number for a matrix).

      Some topics I cover that are not in Strang: intro to probability theory, crypto, error correcting codes, and the intro to quantum mechanics.

  4. Is this 2nd edition available on Amazon?

    1. Yes. LULU and amazon currently have exactly the same version.

  5. I bought the earlier ebook version. Love it. How can I update?

    1. Hi Fred. Search for an email form gumroad from last week (Friday, Apr 14th) and the bottom of that email you should find the link to the latest version. Note I’ll keep updating the gumroad shopping cart over time so you’ll have all future version too.

  6. Hi, is it possible to get it as an epub? or do you have any plans to sell it in that format?

    1. Epub and mobi are in the works. Estimated time of release is June. I have them, but I need to fix some edge cases with figures and problem solutions.

      1. great thanks I’ll wait then

  7. Hi Ivan,
    Would you be covering the whole undergrad course in physics and maths in the near future?
    The textbooks out there are expensive even for working adults returning to college.

    1. I have been working on TOME II of the MATH & PHYSICS book, which will cover E&M and vector calculus. This kind of material is probably less useful for the general audience, but I think it’s worth finishing what I started. I also plan to write a book on differential equations, with a lot of practical examples (otherwise it’s a pretty boring subject).

      I’m not sure if I can go any further than that and talk about advanced math and physics. For one, I’m not that expert. Also, once you get past the first year, mainstream textbooks for more advanced topics are not that bad. I see the main problem and value I can contribute to help students and adult learners get through the first year material and teach them the skills to fend for themselves and pursue the more advanced books.

      Are there any other topics you would like to see?

  8. Would there be complex analysis and real analysis?
    Also what important subjects need to be done in the last 2 years of a physics degree?

  9. Any plan for ebook release through kindle?

    1. The Kindle and ePub versions are in the works. I’ll be using softcover/polyTeXnic for the conversion, which is an awesome library that makes math look beautiful. I just need to write some glue code to handle the exercises and some extra scripts to deal with the tikz figures. The ETA is perhaps end-of-May, or early-June.

  10. A No Bullshit Guide to Quantum Mechanics would be awesome.

    1. Hi Keith. Did you take a look at Chapter 9 in the book: ? It’s not a full course on QM, but it covers most of the essentials of matrix quantum mechanics.

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