Learning Signals and Systems with Mathematica

Brian L. Evans, Lina J. Karam, Kevin A. West, James H. McClellan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Many different computer algebra systems are regularly used to help students learn topics in calculus, matrix algebra, and physics. They empower students to investigate fundamental relationships expressed as formulas through numerical evaluation and graphical displays. These systems can also carry out much of the tedious algebraic manipulation necessary in solving basic engineering and applied science problems. Most provide a programming language, so new functions can be added to solve more advanced problems. One computer algebra system, Mathematica supports a sophisticated Notebook user interface, which is useful for writing tutorials. Because of this interface, we have chosen Mathematica to assist students in learning linear systems theory. Students interact with Mathematica at two different levels. The lower level is a collection of Mathematica routines known as the signal processing packages (SPP). These packages implement symbolic operations such as convolution and linear transforms and graphical operations such as pole-zero diagrams and frequency response plots. The higher level of interaction is with a set of tutorial Notebooks on topics such as convolution and the z-transform. The complete system will eventually support the theoretical aspects of a signals and systems curriculum from introductory courses through first-year graduate courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-78
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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