ELE 201: Information Signals

Prof. Paul Cuff, Princeton University, Spring Semester 2016-17.

Course Description

Signals that carry information play a central role in technology and engineering — signals ranging from sound and images to sensors, radar, communication, MRI, ultrasound, touch-screens, GPS, and robotic control. This course teaches mathematical tools to analyze, manipulate, dissect, and preserve information signals. We discuss how continuous signals can be perfectly represented through sampling (Nyquist theorem), which leads to the use of digital signals. A major focus of the course is the Fourier transform — how, when, and why to use it. We also study linear time-invariant systems, modulation, quantization, and stability (using the related Laplace transform and z-transform). The learning is applied in design projects using Matlab, such as a “Shazam” music identification system.

(registrar course listing)


  • Fourier transform

  • convolution

  • linear time-invariant systems

  • filtering and signal processing

  • sampling and modulation

  • stability (Laplace and Z transforms)


  • Shazam music-identification system

  • MP3 audio compression

Teaching Staff


Prof. Paul Cuff
Office location: B-316 E-quad
Office hours: T 3:30-4:30pm, Th 12:30-1:30pm

Teaching Assistants

  • Gerry Angelatos

  • Hao Deng

  • Akshay Krishna

  • Semih Yagli

  • Lanqing Yu

Please use Piazza for communication with the teaching staff. See the explanation below on this page.

Time and Location


Friend Center 008
T Th 11am-12:20pm

Lab Sessions

Monday: 1:30-4:20pm
Monday: 7:30-10:20pm
Tuesday: 7:30-10:20pm
Wednesday: 1:30-4:20pm

Office Hours

E-Quad B418
Th 4:30-5:30pm


It is recommended that you choose a primary text to study from. Two suggestions are given below. Additionally, a supplemental text is suggested for those who want additional illustrations and examples from a different presentation style, and Prof. Kulkarni has made course notes available from a previous course.


These two texts are similar in content. The first (Oppenheim-Willsky) has been around a while and used by many universities. There are a few notational discrepancies with how I teach, but nothing that is very difficult to work around. The second (Roberts) is newer and matches the notation I use. It also has some Matlab code for examples.

Signals and Systems, second edition. Oppenheim and Willsky with Nawab.

Picture of Textbook 

Signals and Systems, second edition. Roberts.

Picture of Textbook 


Course notes provided by Prof. Kulkarni are available here. They provide a very helpful discussion of signals and system but do not cover all of the course content.

The colorful and well illustrated book below seems to go through many examples. I'm not sure how it flows in terms of core concepts, but it might provide a helpful supplement for those who want additional and perhaps different discussion of the material.

Engineering Signals and Systems. Ulaby and Yagle.

Picture of Textbook 


Matlab will be used in each of the labs for this course. We don't assume that you have used Matlab before. The first few labs will be introductory.


Please use Piazza (www.piazza.com) for all electronic communications with the teaching staff rather than email. This approach should help you obtain answers speedily. Piazza is a question-and-answer platform specifically designed to get you answers fast. They support LaTeX, code formatting, embedding of images, and attaching of files. We encourage you to ask questions when you're struggling to understand a concept – you can even do so anonymously.

Announcement will be sent to the class using Piazza. All enrolled students should create an account with Piazza (www.piazza.com) by visiting their website. Click “enroll now” and select “Princeton University,” then search for “ELE 201.” Alternatively, this link should take you right there.


Blackboard will only be used for communicating grades on assignments and exams and for distributing solutions (not intended for the eyes of future students). The lab door code can also be found in the Blackboard announcements.