Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Objectives and Organization

Most of the professional subjects you have taken at MIT effectively coach you in methods for solving relatively well-defined problems that have only one correct answer. As you might expect from your contact with the real world, typical design problems are not nearly so tightly constrained. In the real world, the imagination and creativity of the designer, rather than her ability to remember formulas or to number crunch, are the ingredients essential to success. An infinity of adequate solutions exist to all realistic design problems; the more talented engineers select from the better of the possible solutions.

Our objective in 6.331 is to give you practice in the area of analog and hybrid (analog-digital) circuit design by forcing you to exercise creative skills. Various formats could be used; for example, a project-laboratory approach would accomplish some of the objectives. However, pure laboratory subjects are relatively inefficient in that a disproportionate amount of time is spent locating test equipment, chasing broken wires, etc.

The format we will use involves discussing the ways that a particular function can be accomplished for a period of several weeks. These introductions are kept non-rigorous and informal (there is no need to prove anything - we have history on our side!), with maximum "round-table" - type participation. Following each discussion, a design problem is assigned in the form of a specification sheet. The objective is to complete a paper design of a circuit that meets the specifications. The paper design should be detailed, neat, and in a form that a technician might reasonably be expected to work from. Unspecified component types or values are unacceptable. A description of the operation of the circuit, emphasizing its important features, and analysis demonstrating conformity with specifications are required.

The specific topics chosen for discussion are relatively unimportant, since our objective of developing design skills can be accomplished via a variety of vehicles. In the past we have drawn topics from the area of data-conversion equipment (digital-to-analog converters, analog-to-digital converters, and related circuits), since this is an area that presently offers exciting employment opportunities and because of my own professional interests. However, I will be happy to use alternative examples if the class can reach any sort of consensus.


We also anticipate a substantial laboratory effort as part of 6.331. Some laboratory involvement will be directly related to design problems, but the major emphasis will focus on the use of modern analog integrated circuits. Certain laboratory exercises will be assigned; however, we encourage you to suggest lab topics in areas of interest to you.

The format described above can result in a "lumpy'' work load, with peaks occurring when design problems and labs are due. We intend to equalize the work load, not by leveling the peaks but by filling in the valleys. It is expected that the total work load will be higher than that normally anticipated in a graduate H-level subject. Homework will be assigned during periods when design problems are not in progress. The homework will concentrate on modeling, feedback, and circuit techniques that provide background for creative design efforts. It will include more advanced problems of the general type you encountered in 6.301 and 6.302.

We have found that there are certain topics (for example, dealing with laboratory and homework) that do not conveniently fit into our regularly scheduled format. In order to devote sufficient time to these topics we will meet for a third class period each week. We will schedule this third session during the first week of the term.

As mentioned earlier, the department has committed a substantial quantity of components exclusively for our use. These devices will be used for the laboratory portion of the subject described earlier. They also can be used to resolve any difference of opinion between staff and student concerning the feasibility of a particular design.

Grading Policy

The staff will review your designs, and will provide comments concerning our impressions of the strong points or possible weaknesses of the designs. These comments will be conveyed in individual conferences. You will be asked to present one of your designs to the entire class in an attempt to encourage "design-review" type discussion and to illustrate alternative approaches.

An overall grade of 1, 2, or 3 will be assigned according to the following guidelines: a grade of 1 indicates a particularly imaginative or complete design effort; a grade of 2 is assigned to a design with no major deficiencies that should be obvious to the author of the design; a grade of 3 indicates that, in the opinion of the staff, errors were made that the student should have been able to avoid. Clearly, grades will be a function of our assessment of the background of a particular student. Students with relatively less design experience will not be penalized unfairly.

Your grade in 6.331 will be based on your performance on design problems, homework sets, and in the laboratory. A passing grade will not be granted unless all assignments are completed. Further, since our schedule also gets hectic toward the end of the term, it is essential that material be handed in on time. You will be loaned certain components in addition to the usual lab kit for use in 6.331. While the department will be generous with components for a project, and tolerant of reasonable but destructive errors, we cannot afford to donate large quantities of components to you. Thus no grade will be assigned until a reasonable amount of material has been returned.

Prerequisites: 6.301 and 6.302

Experience shows that the background provided by 6.301 and 6.302 is essential to successful participation in 6.331. No "or equivalents" seem to exist. Thus these subjects must be firm prerequisites. The format described above works best with a limited number of students, so we reserve the right to limit enrollment, on a possibly arbitrary basis, in order to maintain a manageable class size.


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Lundberg, K. H. Become One with the Transistor: for Solid State Circuits. Unpublished, 2003.

Lundberg, K. H. Feedback Control Systems for Analog Circuit Design. Unpublished, 2003.

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