Introducing Signals and Systems - the Berkeley Approach

by Edward A. Lee and Pravin Varaiya

First Signal Processing Education Workshop, Hunt, Texas, October 15 - 18, 2000



At Berkeley, we have recently revised the curriculum in EECS to have a common core in electrical engineering and computer science, where the common core reflects the contemporary reality of a digital, networked, computational world. Part of this curriculum revision is a new introductory course that reflects the signals and systems side of electrical engineering. The course is aimed as sophomores, although it is taken by significant numbers of students at all levels, from freshmen to seniors. The course is designed to be as relevant to computer scientists as to electrical engineers. Thus, it does not have a circuits prerequisite, and does not use circuits as an illustration of systems. Instead, it motivates signals and systems through media, primarily sound and images, with occasional references to radio and electrical signals. The course presents a unified view of signals and systems that is much broader than the traditional focus on linear-time-invariant systems. It uses sets and functions on sets as a unified notation, and defines discrete-time and continuous-time signals, as well as event sequences, images, and video within this notation. Systems are functions whose domain and range are sets of functions.