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Digital Filter Frequency Response And Eigenfunctions: An Opportunity To Reinforce Linear System Concepts

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.214.1 - 3.214.8

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Gregory M. Dick

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

Session 2520

Digital Filter Frequency Response and Eigenfunctions: An Opportunity to Reinforce Linear System Concepts

Gregory M. Dick University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


Undergraduate EE and EET students often master problem-solving techniques at the expense of the understanding of fundamental principles. Furthermore, they often see their education as the study of a set of unrelated topics rather than as the mastery of a single discipline which encompasses several related areas. An eigenfunction-based introduction to digital filter frequency response can help to ameliorate these undesired side effects of undergraduate EE/EET curricula.


A critical examination of undergraduate Electrical Engineering and Electrical Engineering Technology programs exposes the following: • The discipline is artificially partitioned into topics (e.g., Circuit Analysis, Power and Machinery, Computer Architecture, Digital Signal Processing, etc.) which appear to the student to be somewhat unrelated. This is a result of the traditional packaging of study into a set of courses. The effect is that the students often do not make connections between courses and therefore fail to see a single cohesive discipline. • Students often master and retain problem-solving procedures at the expense of their understanding of the underlying principles. This occurs for several reasons. It is often easier to master the skills necessary to solve a particular class of problem than it is to fully grasp the physical and mathematical principles on which the procedure is based. Engineering/Engineering Technology exams tend to emphasize problem solving; students understand this and react appropriately. Neither of these situations are fatal flaws in the educational process. They are, however, less than ideal outcomes. Educators should seek techniques that ameliorate these outcomes.

An approach to mitigate these outcomes is to revisit the fundamentals, which were introduced early in the curriculum, in upper level courses. A result is an improved understanding of the principles (students comment, “it made a lot more sense this time”). If the second discussion of the topic occurs in a course that appears to be unrelated to the course in which the topic was introduced, then the artificial decomposition of the discipline is also reduced. Crowded undergraduate curricula do not often afford the luxury of discussing, for a second time, topics covered in earlier courses. Therefore, faculty must seek opportunities which both allow a topic to be revisited and require only a minimum of extra time to do so. Such an opportunity occurs when introducing the frequency response of digital filters in a Digital Signal Processing course.

Dick, G. M. (1998, June), Digital Filter Frequency Response And Eigenfunctions: An Opportunity To Reinforce Linear System Concepts Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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