Unit 2: Signals and Systems

Signals and Systems

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Session Overview

 Block diagram of a discrete-time system.

Any model of the world we want to study, that we address as a system, we also probably want to observe in some way (this is probably the reason we made the model in the first place). The information we choose to observe is the signal. Based on what we know about different kinds of signals and systems, we can choose what information to collect as a signal, and make effective long-term predictions about our system based on that signal.

The overview handout provides a more detailed introduction, including the big ideas of the session, key vocabulary, what you should understand (theory) and be able to do (practice) after completing this session, and additional resources.

Session Content


Read section 4.2 of the course notes.

Lecture Video

Watch the lecture video. The handout and slides present the same material, but the slides include answers to the in-class questions.

About this Video

Introduction to signals and systems, focusing on multiple representations of discrete-time systems: difference equations, block diagrams, and operator representations.

Session Activities

The problems in the tables below are taken from the 6.01 Online Tutor, an interactive environment that is not available on OCW. Do not try to answer these questions in the PDF files; answers will not be checked, and cannot be submitted.

Software Lab

3.1.1 Simulating cascade (PDF)
3.1.2 Cascading machines (PDF)
3.1.3 Function machines (PDF)
3.1.4 Combining accounts (PDF)
3.1.5 Sequential combinations (PDF)
3.1.6 Feedback SM (PDF)

Design Lab

Additional Exercises

3.3.1 Map (PDF)
3.3.2 Indexing nested lists (PDF)
3.3.3 Finding systems (PDF)
3.3.4 Representations (PDF)

Check Yourself


Nano-quiz problems and solutions are taken from a previous version of the 6.01 Online Tutor. Do not try to answer these questions in the PDF files; answers will not be checked, and cannot be submitted.

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Learning Resource Types
theaters Lecture Videos
theaters Recitation Videos
assignment Problem Sets
grading Exams with Solutions
notes Lecture Notes
menu_book Online Textbook
co_present Instructor Insights