Unit 3: Circuits

Circuit Abstractions

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Session Overview

Part of a circuit diagram.

In this session, we use what we’ve learned in the previous two sessions to allow even further circuit abstraction. We’ll learn about Thevenin equivalence (as well as Norton equivalence) and superposition.

Thevenin equivalence supplies a discipline for abstracting complex systems down into simple, equivalent representations, typically in order to substitute the simple representation back into a larger circuit. Superposition allows us to solve circuits more quickly (and for some, more intuitively).

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


Review chapter 6 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

This lecture covers other ways of achieving modularity in circuit design. If a circuit only contains linear elements, then it can be represented by a Thevenin or Norton equivalent circuit, and superposition can be used.

Recitation Video

These videos have been developed for OCW Scholar, and are designed to supplement the lecture videos.

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

Design Lab

Additional Exercises

The optional questions (10.3.6-10.3.9) are provided as additional preparation for Midterm Exam 2.

9.3.1 Thevenin equivalents (PDF)
9.3.2 Thevenin practice (PDF)
9.3.3 More Thevenin (PDF)
9.3.4 Thevenin divider (PDF)
10.3.6 Subtraction action [optional] (PDF)
10.3.7 Op-amp [optional] (PDF)
10.3.8 Op-amp [optional] (PDF)
10.3.9 Endless summer [optional] (PDF)

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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