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The Use Of Animation For Visualization Of Concepts In A Network Analysis Class

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1043.1 - 6.1043.6

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Paper Authors

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Robert Bernick

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

Session 1520

The Use of Animation for Visualization of Concepts In a Network Analysis Class

Robert Bernick California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


Many new and challenging concepts are introduced in the typical junior level network analysis class including s-plane analysis, convolution, and Fourier transforms. This paper discusses a set of animated clips that has been developed using Mathcad PLUS to aid in the visualization of these concepts in a way not possible with conventional lectures and textbook presentations. The clips are generated using the Mathcad FRAME variable. This variable takes on integral values that increase sequentially with time. Other variables can be defined that depend on the FRAME variable, and these can be plotted to provide a series of frames which become an animation clip when viewed sequentially. When the clip is saved, it is converted to a Windows avi file and can subsequently be played on any computer possessing the Windows operating system (version 3.1 or later).

Examples of the clips include sequences that show the relation of frequency response for second order lowpass and bandpass filters to the location of poles in the s-plane, the time evolution of the convolution integral, and the connection between the time duration of a signal and the frequency response of its Fourier transform.

Although the animation files are each around 500 KB in length, they are highly compressible and can typically be zipped to 10-15 KB. A set of animated clips has been made available to students and response has been positive.

1. Introduction

In the typical junior level networks class (continuous-time linear circuits) students are faced with a variety of new abstract concepts and methods of analysis. Among these are s-plane analysis, Fourier series and transforms, and convolution. While learning the required mathematical techniques may be straightforward, a deeper intuitive level of understanding is more difficult to achieve. Illustrations of concepts on blackboards and in textbooks are somewhat limited in their usefulness since they are static in nature. Animated pictures add a dynamic aspect, that can greatly enhance the visualization of abstract concepts. Animation as an educational tool in engineering has been carried out using MATLAB1-4, Visisim1 and Mathcad5. In addition web sites have been developed that employ Java applets in interactive displays which include “Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Bernick, R. (2001, June), The Use Of Animation For Visualization Of Concepts In A Network Analysis Class Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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