MATH 133: Vectors, Matrices and Geometry
About the WeBWorK Assignments
These assignments will be available on the Web and will be answered on
the Web. We will be using the WeBWorK
system developed by Prof. Arnie Pizer and Prof. Mike Gage at the University
of Rochester. WeBWorK is an internet based method for delivering
homework problems to students over the internet.
What do I need to use WeBWorK?
The ideal is to have your own computer. Typically it is desirable to
If you do not have a personal computer or you do not have all the components
listed above, please obtain an account at a computer lab on campus. (If
you are a Faculty of Science student, you can get an infopoint account
through the SUS. If you are a Faculty of Arts student you are entitled
to an account in the Faculty of Arts Computer Lab (FACL), located in the
Leacock building, room 110.)
An internet connection.
An internet browser, Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer, etc..
Adobe's Acrobat Reader.
How do I use WeBWorK?
Here are the basic steps on how to get started.
NOTE: Most pages of WeBWorK also contain directions. Therefore,
if you are ever unsure of what you should do, try reading the directions
and descriptions on the page at which you are looking.
Find a computer with access to Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer etc.
Open the browser and go to the WeBWorK page for MATH 133.
This will get you to the main page of your course. This page includes necessary
information about logging in.
To log in, click on the 'Login' button.
This will take you to a login page. Enter your login name and password,
and click on the 'Continue' button.
Your login name is your 9 digit McGill student ID number.
Your initial password is also your 9 digit McGill student ID
If your login is incorrect, you will be told so, and you can return to
the login page and try again. If you are persistently unable to log in,
contact the administrator using the feedback button (or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org).
If your login is correct you will see a page where you can do following:
If you are printing out a problem set or looking at a summary of your homework
scores, you are done. If you are viewing a problem set via a browser, you
will see a page with the problems in the set you chose. To view and/or
answer a problem, click on the number of the problem and click on the 'Get
Problem' button. Notice that there are three modes of viewing the problem:
'text', 'formatted-text' and 'typeset'. Text output can be hard to read
if a problem contains complicated mathematical formulas, so it is better
to view the problem using 'formatted-text' or 'typeset' mode. 'Typeset'
mode is probably best, but 'formatted-text' mode is usually acceptable,
quick and reliable. One caveat is that you need to set the encoding properly
(e.g. Western(MacRoman) for Mac Netscape) for best results. Once you choose
a problem and click on the 'Get Problem' button, you will see the text
of the problem with boxes for your answers. If you wish to submit a solution
at this time, enter your answer(s) and click on the 'Submit Answer' button.
If you are working on a problem set that is already closed, you will have
the option to see the correct answer. To see the correct answer, just check
the box(es) and click on the 'Submit Answer' button (you do not have to
enter an answer to see the correct answer). Once you have submitted an
answer, you will be told whether your answer is correct or not. If not,
you may be able to try again. The instructor sets the maximum number of
available tries for each problem. This may be a finite number of tries
or it may be unlimited. After you've tried a problem, you can either go
to the next problem, the previous problem, or see the list of the problems
If you want to check the status of your problems (e.g. to double check
that your answers have been recorded), use the "Prob. List" button at the
top of the page to see the problem list page.
When you are finished, log out using the "Logout" button at the bottom
of the page. This may be very important if you are working close to the
deadline for completing the assignment. If you close your browser without
logging off, it will be at least half an hour before you will be able to
log on again.
Change your password. Please do this the first
time that you log in. This is important since your initial password
may be available to others. For your own protection
you should change your password at least by the time that Set 1 opens.
(Set1 is the first problem set that is for credit). Keep a record of your
password. Once changed, your instructor does not have access to it.
Change your e-mail address if necessary. Please
do this the first time that you log in. Your e-mail address
is initially set to your McGill PO-Box account given to every student on
registration. If you do not use this account on a regular basis, change
the e-mail address to the account that you prefer.This will enable us to
send you course related information electronically.
Look at and do the problems in a set via your browser.
To do Set 1, for example, click on the line in the box that starts
with 'Set 1...'. Then click on the 'Do problem set' button.
On each line in the box, where all the sets are listed, after the set
number, you can see whether the set is open or closed. If the set is open,
that means that when you solve a problem, the result will be recorded in
the course database. If the set is closed, you can still solve problems,
but your results will not be recorded.
After the indication of whether the set is open or closed, there is
additional information about the due date (if the set is open), or whether
the answers are available (if the set is closed). When the answers are
available, you have the option of looking at correct answers when viewing
Get a printout of the problem set.
To print out Set 1, for example, first choose the download type - PostScript
or PDF. If you have Adobe's Acrobat Reader (version 3.0 or better), it
is probably easiest to use the PDF format because it is universal. Acrobat
Reader is available (free of charge from Adobe) for virtually every computer
platform and will print to virtually every type of printer. However, PostScript
format may give better results. To print a PostScript file, you will need
a PostScript capable printer (or else a PostScript interpreter such as
GSview for Windows or MacGhostView for the Macintosh). Most laser printers
such as those found in computer labs are PostScript capable and most inkjet
printers are not PostScript capable. If you have your own computer, but
don't have a printer, you might want to go to a university computer lab
and print out the current homework set there. You only need to print out
a problem set once. From then on, you can enter the answers over the web
on your own computer.
After choosing one of the download types, click on the line in the box
that starts with 'Set 1...'. Then click on the 'Get hard copy' button.
You will get one of two things at this point:
You can use the preferences command of your web browser to configure your
browser to automatically transfer PDF files and/or postscript files to
the appropriate application for viewing and printing.
If the browser you are using has a plug-in that supports the download type
(e.g. the Acrobat Reader Plug-in) you will see the document in the browser
window, You can now print or save the document to disk. It may be better
to use the plug-in's shortcut bar rather than the browser's menus for this.
If the browser does not have an appropriate plug-in, you may get an alert
message asking what to do with the file. In this case, you can save the
file to disk (so that you can print it at a later time) or choose an application
to view or print the file (e.g. Acrobat Reader, GSview or dropPS).
Look at a summary of your WeBWorK homework scores.
This is the second section of the page. If you click on the button
'Get Summary', you will see your current scores for all available problem
Things to know
If you have a problem logging in, contact the adminstrator using the feedback
button or directly at email@example.com
If you have questions on specific homework problems, click on the 'Feedback'
button on any of the pages of WeBWorK and contact the Help Desk.
If you are logged on to WeBWorK for longer that 30 minutes without
any activity, you will be asked to log in again. This is a security measure.
You can resume your work after you logged back in. All your results from
the last log in will be saved.
Each WeBWorK problem set is individualized (each student has a different
version of each problem, for example the numerical values in the formulas
may be slightly different).
Working close to the submission deadline may be risky, the server will
be heavily used at that time and probably rather slow. Much better to submit
your solutions a day or two in advance of the deadline.
There is a problem set on the server designated Set 0. This set is not
for credit. This problem set exists for two reasons. First it will give
you a chance to try out the WeBWorK system in a situation where
the results do not count. Second, the questions are designed to test your
knowledge of functions. If you are having difficulty with this problem
set, you most probably do not have the required prerequisite for the course
and you should seriously consider dropping the course. Consult with your
advisor on this point.
On the computer screen the problems, with spaces for the answers, are displayed
in close-to-typeset format as a web fill-in form. Since WeBWorK
uses standard HTML syntax it is possible to display graphs using standard
"GIF" formats. Even typeset mathematics can be displayed on the screen
using GIFs, although displaying it in this manner is currently rather slow.
Be aware of the number of available tries for each question you attempt.
You can tell if there is a limit on the number of tries by scrolling down
to the submit answer button. Alongside this button you will see the number
of tries that remain. This message is not present if the number of tries
If the number of tries is limited, be sure to answer all
parts of a multipart question before clicking the 'Submit Answer' button.
Every time you click this button counts as an attempt at answering the
question even if all the fields are not filled in. On the other hand, if
the number of tries is unlimited and the question is set up to show partially
correct answers, it may make sense to answer each part of the question
separately and check your answers as you go.
If you are unsure of how WeBWorK will interpret a complicated expression
that you have entered in the answer box, you can click 'Preview Answer"
which will show you how WeBWorK will parse your answer, and, if you are
using typeset mode, it will typeset your answer. You are then free to either
submit the answer as entered or to go back and make appropriate changes.
If the number of tries is limited and any of your answers contains brackets,
it is highly recommended to preview your answer before submitting it. Unmatched
parentheses will count as an error. Even professors make errors like this
When printing assignments, it may be wise to check that all mathematical
signs are correctly rendered. For example, we have seen the not equals
sign rendered as the equals sign on a low resolution printer. If you are
using Acrobat, you can view the document at very high resolution to check
that you have everything as it should be.
When viewing an assignment using Acrobat, it is probably best to select
'Fit Visible' from the resolution menu. This fits the document margin to
margin to your computer window.