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Course Goals

We have many goals for this course. Our primary goal is for you to learn to appreciate and use the fundamental design principles of modularity and abstraction in a variety of contexts from electrical engineering and computer science.

Our second goal is to show you that making mathematical models of real systems can help in the design and analysis of those systems, and to give you practice with the difficult step of deciding which aspects of the real world are important to the problem being solved and how to model them in ways that give insight into the problem.

Finally, of course, we have the more typical goals of teaching exciting and important basic material from electrical engineering and computer science, including modern software engineering, linear systems analysis, electronic circuits, and decision-making. This material all has an internal elegance and beauty, as well as a crucial role in building modern EE and CS systems.


At MIT, 6.01 has no formal prerequisites. Students are expected to take 8.02 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism as a co-requisite.

This OCW Scholar course will be most useful to students with the following background and skills:

  • Mathematics
    • Sequences and series, some trigonometry (for poles)
    • No extensive skill with calculus is required, but students should understand that velocity is the derivative of position, and be able to estimate the velocity of an object from a graph of its position.
  • Programming
  • Physics
    • Some exposure to solving basic circuits: Ohm’s law, passive components (such as resistors and capacitors), reducing a circuit to a system of linear equations.

Course Structure

6.01 meets at MIT based on the following schedule:

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Software Lab: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Design Lab: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Outside of class time, students are expected to do the assigned readings, prepare for software and design labs, and complete homework assignments and other exercises.

A short nano-quiz is given during most design lab sessions. The purpose of these nano-quizzes is to provide motivation and feedback for learning the materials presented in the lectures, readings, and additional exercises. Nano-quizzes will generally consist of a simple question from the current week’s material and a more difficult question from previous weeks. Assessment also includes two midterms and a final exam.

6.01 students at MIT complete many of the assignments in an online tutorial environment which checks whether their answers are correct. This environment (often referred to as the Online Tutor in labs and other assignments) is not available as part of 6.01SC on MIT OpenCourseWare. The problems are provided as PDFs on each session page, but solutions are not available.

In this site, each session page generally corresponds to a week in the MIT course. The lectures were recorded in Spring 2011, while most of the activities (software and design labs, additional exercises, and homework assignments) are taken from the Fall 2011 course.


For MIT students, grades are calculated as follows:

Software labs 10%
Design labs and interviews 20%
Additional exercises 5%
Homework assignments 5%
Nano-quizzes 10%
Midterm 1 10%
Midterm 2 15%
Final exam 25%

Course Notes

The 6.01 course notes are presented by chapter in the pages that follow. Here is the complete set of notes as one file:

The development of these notes was led by Leslie Kaelbling. Jacob White, Hal Abelson, Tomas Lozano-Perez, Sarah Finney, Sari Canelake, Eric Grimson, Ike Chuang, and Berthold Horn provided useful comments and criticisms, and Dennis Freeman developed significant parts and most of the figures in the Signals and Systems chapter.

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Lecture Notes
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