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A Study Of Graphical Vs. Textual Programming For Teaching Dsp

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

ECE Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.128.1 - 11.128.7



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Paper Authors

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Mark Yoder Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Bruce Black Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Bruce A. Black (S’63-M’65-SM’89) completed his B.S. at Columbia University, his S.M. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, all in electrical engineering. Since 1983 he has been on the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he is also advisor to Tau Beta Pi and to the Amateur Radio club (W9NAA). His interests are in communications, wireless systems, and signal processing. He has developed a variety of courses and laboratories in the signal processing and communications areas, including a junior-level laboratory in communication systems and a senior elective in wireless systems. In 2004 he was named Wireless Educator of the Year by the Global Wireless Education Consortium.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Study of Graphical vs. Textual Programming for Teaching DSP


The proponents of graphical programming (that is using graphics to program a computer, not programming a computer to do graphics) claim graphical programming is better than text-based programming; however text-based programmers far out number graphics-based programmers. This paper describes the preliminary developments of comparing the use of LabVIEW (a graphical programming language) to MATLAB (a text-based language) in teaching discrete-time signal processing (DSP).

This paper presents the results of using both methods in a junior-level introduction to DSP class. The students who enter this class have had a course in continuous-time signals and systems but no DSP theory background. The class uses the text “Signal Processing First”, by McClellan, Schafer, Yoder, published by Prentice Hall, to introduce discrete-time signal processing. In the past, a series of MATLAB based mini-projects were used in addition to homework to reinforce the DSP concepts. The new version of the class uses the same mini-projects except that they are based on LabVIEW.

Several quarters of concept inventory data have been collected on the MATLAB version of the class. The same inventory was used with the LabVIEW version of the class and the results compared. The authors do not expect this study to answer the “which is better?” question. Rather it will give experience in assessing what the tradeoffs are in choosing between two very different types of programming languages to teach DSP.


When DSP First [1] was published in 1998, it introduced several new approaches to teaching discrete-time signal processing. One new approach was teaching DSP early in the curriculum. DSP has traditionally been taught after signals and systems, which is taught after circuits. DSP First showed that DSP could be taught first, even before circuits [5]. Another new approach was the heavy use of MATLAB [2] in demonstrating DSP concepts in class and in the laboratories [4]. In 2003, its derivative work Signal Processing First[3] added four chapters on continuous-time signal processing while continuing the approach of DSP First.

These texts have been used in the junior-level introduction to discrete-time signal processing class at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Strangely, this class is taught after continuous- time signal processing which is taught after circuits. For several quarters, the Discrete Time Signal and Systems Concept Inventory [6-9] has been used for both pre- and post-testing of students in the class.

The combination of a prerequisite class that relies on a computer technology, MATLAB, and several quarters’ worth of base-line concept inventory data provides a nice environment for

Yoder, M., & Black, B. (2006, June), A Study Of Graphical Vs. Textual Programming For Teaching Dsp Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1125

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