EE 421g Signals and Systems

ECE 421g – Signals and Systems
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00 to 11:50 am
CRMS Room 323
Spring 2016

Instructor: Dr. Daniel L. Lau
Office: 567 FPAT
Phone: (859) 257-1787
Office Hours:
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Course Description:
The ECE Department describes this course as, "An introduction to continuous and discrete signal and system models and analyses. Topics include discrete and continuous convolution, Fourier series, Fourier transforms, and Laplace and Z-transforms with application examples including AM modulation and the sampling theorem."

Teaching Assistant: Qiyue Wang (, CRMS Room 119, CRMS, phone: 323-3229, with office hours on MWFs from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.

MA214 and EE221.

Practical Signals Theory with MATLAB Applications, Richard J. Tervo, Wiley, First Edition, 2013.

Course Topics:

  1. Continuous and Discrete Time Signals

  2. Linear Time Invariant Systems

  3. Continuous and Discrete Time Fourier Transforms

  4. Laplace and Z-Transforms

  5. Discrete Filter Design

The student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:
  1. Ability to classify systems based on input-output relationships.

  2. Ability to understand the relationship between sampling rate and aliasing errors in the sampled signal.

  3. Ability to analyze and synthesize signals using Fourier series and transform definitions and properties for both continuous and discrete time.

  4. Ability to analyze practical continuous-time and discrete-time systems, such as modulators and filters.

  5. Ability to analyze continuous-time and discrete-time systems with Laplace and z-transforms.

  6. Ability to characterize input-output relationships of linear time-invariant systems using impulse response and transfer function representations for both continuous and discrete time.

  7. Ability to apply convolution to determine the output of linear time-invariant systems for both continuous and discrete time.

Grading Criteria:
  • Homework Assignments (10% total): a collection of 5-10 practice problems due on Fridays depending on when they are assigned.

  • Lecture (team) participation (10% total).

  • Three Semester Exams (15% each): to be held in class on Oct. 1, Oct. 29, and Dec. 3.

  • Final Exam (25% total): Covers the entire semester.

  • Students who finish the semester with 90% or more of the available points will receive an A, 80% or more will receive a B, 70% or more will receive a C, and those below 70% will receive a D.

Homework assignments will be posted on the class Blackboard page along with their due date. The time it takes the average student to complete these assignments is on the order of four to five hours. To alleviate this work load, we will be using a reverse classroom paradigm where students are required to read the book as well as review the lecture slides outside of class. In the classroom, we will focus on solving the assigned homework problems. So most of the assigned work will already be covered in class; however, we are unlikely to cover all the assigned problems before the due date. You are still responsible for handing in solutions to these problems regardless of whether or not they were covered in class.

Having recently taken and passed the FE and PE exams, I’ve decided to implement an exam structure that closely follows these tests. In particular, problems will be multiple choice with 30 questions per exam. Students will be awarded points for the correct answer and will not be punished for incorrect answers. So answer all questions even if doing so requires guessing.

All exams are schedule for Wednesdays with the scored exams returned the following Friday. For those students who do poorly on the exam, a make-up exam, with a new set of questions, will be given the following week, outside of class. Taking the make-up exam is entirely up to you, but if you do take the make-up exam, then the make-up exam score will replace the original exam, regardless of how you perform the second time. There will be no make-up exam for the final.

Like the PE exam, all exams are open book and open notes; however, notes must be recorded in a 9.75” by 7.5” composition book with, at most, 100 pages. No loose sheets of paper are allowed in the exam. You may use post-it notes to mark pages in your textbook or composition book, but you can’t have notes written on the post-it notes. You may bring a NCEES approved calculator as described at but you may not bring a smart phone or PDA of any kind into the exam room. You will not be allowed to leave the exam room unless you have completed the exam and left it with the proctor.

Lecture Participation:
I understand that engineering students may have a very difficult time participating in classroom discussions. As such and in order to encourage student participation, all students will be divided into teams of 3 to 4 students of varying skill. The teams will then be given opportunities in class to score points that will accumulate over the semester as I will call on teams instead of individual students. At the semester’s completion, the winning team will be give an award of some kind. There will also be numerous team-building exercises during the semester, perhaps outside of class.

The team assignments will be made by me based upon your performance in a diagnostic calculus exercise to be given Friday, August 29. Your performance on this assessment will have no bearing on your class grade. It is simply a way for me to remind you of the calculus material relevant to this class and to help you identify weaknesses in your understanding. Once I complete my evaluations, I’ll assign each of you to a team such that each team is equally matched. The resulting teams will then be responsible for coming up with a team name and mascot.

Canvas Learning Management System:
All classroom materials, notes, assignments, etc. will be distributed through Canvas.

Assignment #1: Write Your “Bucket” Resume.
As juniors and seniors, the time has come for you to take a serious look at your resumes as you prepare to enter the workforce. And as you will find out, landing that perfect job is a lot more effort than just sending out a bunch of duplicate resumes. A serious job search begins with a thorough review of the advertised opportunities from your pool of desirable positions. From this pool, you should identify a set of core competencies and, assuming you have the necessary skill set, write a resume the accentuates these skills. For exam, if you wanted a job as a chef in a famous French restaurant, you should probably include in your resume your prior experience with French pastries instead of making pizzas at Slice of Chicago.

Now while you may not have the ideal skill set for that perfect job, you are still in College and have plenty of opportunities to build that ideal skill set. You just need to plan ahead, perhaps way ahead. That is, you want to identify your bucket skills as the skills you want to have before you die. And why not list those bucket skills on a resume as if you actually had those skills. That is, write the ideal resume that you want to have so that you can land the one job in the world that you really want. And then you can use this resume to guide you through your final days in college so that you can honestly write that same resume sooner rather than later.

So let’s suppose that, since you are in my Signals and Systems course, you really want a job in signal or image processing. I want you to spend the weekend searching online for all the available job posting websites you can find, and on each one, search for jobs related to signal and image processing. For instance, you can search the website,, using the search terms, “(signal or image) and processing.” Once you have a large collection of jobs you deem interesting, I want you to identify a set of common skills (like Simulink or Matlab programming) that the job postings advertise as required skills. And make a list of common skills considered desirable, although not necessarily required. Also look at the education level of the positions. Of all of these required and desirable skills, I want you to write a one or two page resume that lists those skills that you wish you had.

I will then review your resumes and give you written feedback. As someone who has hired incoming students to RA positions, as well as hired BS level engineers to startups, I believe my feedback carries some merit. So you can use my feedback to assist you when writing your real resumes. At the same time, I will use the skills that you identify in your resumes to shape the course so that, by the end of the semester, those skills won’t be bucket skills but real skills. This resume is due before the beginning of class on Wednesday, Jan. 18. So you will have the long weekend to study the available job market and to craft your resumes.

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