# Preparing for Signals and Systems

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Signals and Systems Vs Circuits I

I really just would like to know which course, in your opinion, was more difficult circuits I or signals? I've already taken circuits and signals is up next. Also, what should I be reviewing in order to prepare myself, during the break, for Signals and Systems. From what I've read thus far it really introduces fourier series is there anything else? I just like to get a jump-start on classes while on break.

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I apologize in advanced because I know this isn't the right section, but I posted these same questions in the general coursework forum and received no answers.

I've already taken circuits and signals is up next. What should I be reviewing in order to prepare myself, during the break, for Signals and Systems. From what I've read thus far it really introduces fourier series is there anything else? I just like to get a jump-start on classes while on break.

What I did many moons ago was purchase textbooks before leaving for break (winter & summer), then reading through them over the break.

jasonRF
Gold Member
Course difficulty can depend so much on the professor that I won't venture a guess. The topics tend to have equivalent inherent difficulty, though.

Signals and systems may look like an applied math class at first glance, but it really does teach you how to think about systems in a useful way. You need to make sure you know your basic circuits, complex number manipulation, calculus (including things like integration by parts, improper integrals, and convergence of power series), and basic constant coefficient linear ODEs. All of that material is likely in your calc book (is in Thomas' calculus anyway). The basic ideas of linearity and orthogonality that you learned in linear algebra are also important, but those are straightforward enough to refresh your memory as needed during the course.

A nice looking signals and systems book can be found free, writen by a very well known expert:
http://www.ece.sunysb.edu/~ctchen/
It might be worth your while to go through a chapter or two to help you identify where you may need a little extra work to be prepared.

As a warning, some professors (not too many, I hope) use signals and systems as an opportunity to get students used to more precise/abstract math (I don't think it is the best approach). The most popular textbooks are NOT like this. An example free book along these lines can be found at
http://leevaraiya.org/

Signals and sytems was one of the most useful classes I ever took; I think it is fun, too. I still use that stuff all the time at work. Enjoy!

Jason

When we took Systems and Signals (they were 2 different classes, 1 being discrete time, one being continious time)
We covered stuff such as Linear Time Invariant (LTI) systems.
Leplace transforms, Z transforms, convolultion,
System responses to Dirac inpulses.
Frequency response.
Ummmm I'm sure there was more but I'm drawing a blank.

Hope that helps a bit :D

D H
Staff Emeritus
Start learning the mathematics that underlies much of what you will learn in your signals and systems class. If you don't know the math that class will look like a bunch of disjoint concepts that you have to memorize. If you do know the math those disjoint concepts will all fall into place.

The math you need to know falls into two basic domains, analysis (real and complex analysis), and linear algebra.

berkeman
Mentor
I apologize in advanced because I know this isn't the right section, but I posted these same questions in the general coursework forum and received no answers.

I've already taken circuits and signals is up next. What should I be reviewing in order to prepare myself, during the break, for Signals and Systems. From what I've read thus far it really introduces fourier series is there anything else? I just like to get a jump-start on classes while on break.

Okay cool, I know I will be good at anything dealing with linear algebra since I just completed a proof based linear algebra class vs the matlab based one I should have taken. Either way it looks like I'm pretty solid math wise, i'll probably just focus on mastering the laplace transform, and make sure I have circuits mastered as well. I will definitely take a look at those links also. Thanks for all of the replies.

jasonRF
Gold Member
You probably know much more linear algebra than you need then.

If you do not already know matlab then you should learn is asap. It is a standard tool to use during such a class and for the remainder of your career. If the standard prereq linear algebra course used matlab then your signals class may assume you know it and just expect you to use it. You can download Octave for free, which mostly has the same syntax as matlab.

jason

I actually do have Matlab (student version), and Maple on my computer but like you said I really need to dig into it and learn it. Outside of basic matrix manipulations, declaring variables, plotting, and a few things dealing with differential equations I know nothing about it. With Maple its just a program I have on my computer I do not even know the basics. I do know they are very powerful tools and will be used extensively, specifically MATLAB.

I would say circuits is much easier than signals atleast I find it that way but if you are going for signals and system you should do the application of all the transformations ( Laplace ,z,Fourier ) I mean you should be comfortable with applying all the mathematical ideas . I personally felt it harder coz I have problems in understanding the basic concept of waves and for me every basic things need to be damn clear as I have ADHD
But again best of luck the things that are harder for me can be easier for you