Introduction to Electrical Engineering: Digital Signal Processing

 

Department: Music/Computer Science

Instructor: Grady Kestler
Instructor's Email: gradykestler@gmail.com
Prerequisites: Familiarity with computers. Prior programming experience is helpful but not required.

Course Description

The fundamental physics underlying ocean waves are the same ideas that help build cell phones. The music you listen to in your car is the same form and structure as the light from galaxies millions of light years away. But how can we interpret these physical structures with the computing technology of today? In Introduction to Electrical Engineering: Digital Signal Processing, we will be exploring physical waves and their digital signal counterparts in a multidisciplinary setting. Across 6 units, education in both creative and engineering elements will help students understand how and why audio arts, like sound design and music, work the way they do and how they can be applied to ever growing technology of today. The combination of group and individual assignments is designed to teach students the value of collaboration as well as individual thinking.

Course Goals / Learning Objectives

Students will study basic signal processing techniques and learn how to apply the science to the art of music production and sound design. Students will be able to demonstrate and articulate comprehension of waves and signals in today’s society and how their manipulation influences art and technology of the future.

Content and Evaluation

Students will be responsible for all material covered in class. Grading will depend 80% on assignments and 20% on in-class participation. The assignment portion will be split into five homework assignments (8%), a take home essay (12%), a midterm (12%), and a final project (16%).

Topical Outline

The unit's learning objectives are stated before the topics covered by the unit.

Unit 1: Waves

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to articulate at least two differences between transverse and compressional waves.
  • Students will be able to provide at least three examples of waves in the non-digital world.
  • Students will be able to define periodic waves, aperiodic waves, wavelength, period, and frequency.
  • Students will be able to compute wavelength, period, and frequency.

Topics

  • Physics of waves
  • Waves in our world
  • Definitions and vocabulary

Unit 2: Signals

Learning Objectives

  • Student will be able to define continuous signals and discrete signals.
  • Students will be able to articulate at least two differentiating characteristics between waves and signals.
  • Students will be able to translate between representations of waves in the physical world and their mathematical functions.

Topics

  • Difference between waves and signals
  • Definitions and examples
  • Basic ideas of signals and systems
    • Impulse signal/response, step signal/response
  • Waves expressed as signals

Take Home Assignment

Learning Objectives

  • Students will articulate at least four examples of the use of signals in today's society and explain how these signals have shaped and altered technology.

Unit 3: Audio Signals

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to articulate how audio waves are sampled (converted) into signals using a microphone.
  • Students will be able to explain why digital audio is a signal.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate sampling techniques of audio signals with recording software.

Topics

  • Capturing audio waves through microphones
  • Understanding audio waves in relation to signals
  • Sampling

Unit 4: Signal Processing

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to define digital signal processing.
  • Students will be able to recognize and articulate digital signal processing techniques such as convolution, fourier transforms, filtering, frequency modulation and amplitude modulation through the use of audio processing software.

Topics

  • Manipulations of audio signals
  • Mathematics behind signal processing
    • Convolution, Fourier Transforms

Midterm

Learning Objectives

  • Students will demonstrate comprehension of signal processing techniques by identifying their effects on signals.

Unit 5: Sound Design

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to articulate at least two purposes of sound in digital and performance art.
  • Students will be able to define form and structure with respect to sound in digital and performance art.
  • Students will be able to identify thematic, environmental, and structural elements of sound in famous films.

Topics

  • Applications of previously covered topics in theater, film, and video games
    • A look at the sound design of Ben Burt in Star Wars and Walle.
  • Compositions in sound
  • Form and structure
  • Audacity

Unit 6: Musical Acoustics

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify and discuss the use and influence of at least three signal processing techniques in music production.
  • Students will be able to articulate at least two differences between form and structure in music and sound design.

Topics

  • Applications of previously covered topics in the musical world
    • Music filters, DJ's, recording, mixing
  • Synthesis of electronic instruments
  • System design behind physical instruments
  • Pure Data

Unit 7: Final Project

Learning Objectives

  • Students will compose sound design pieces using at least three signal processing techniques.
  • Students will identify the signal processing techniques they used and discuss how it shaped the form and structure of their piece.

Topics

  • Students will be working to compose pieces in Audacity or Pure Data. The final presentation must include a completed piece as well as a short paper explaining the intersection between the art and science of waves, signals, and systems.

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