MTHE 334 (Signals and Systems) Outline and Policies:

Bahman Gharesifard
Fall 2013


Welcome to Signals and Systems! The main reference for this course is the book (A Mathematical Introduction to Signals and Systems, by Andrew D. Lewis). Lecture notes are provided here, mainly to guide you through the book. A major part of the materials presented in these notes are the expanded versions of the slides previously used to teach this course. Of course, at times, we might trade precision for intuition (bad practice), but hopefully these notes help answering the question: which parts of these two volumes do I need to know about?

As you will realize, our journey through this book is not chronological; we rather adapt an efficient path which would allow us to grab enough structures from different chapters in order to be able to study signals (and systems).

Signals (and Systems): In this course, we are supposed to learn about signals, and also a little bit about systems. But let us quickly review, with loss of precision, what we are really going to study. We are not aiming to be mathematically precise in our description, so you will need to wait until later in the course when, hopefully, the next paragraph makes sense to you.

Signals are really just functions, with some physical meaning. Given this, we quickly realize that studying them entails learning about appropriate spaces of functions. Well, we haven't defined what we mean by space of functions, but given your background in linear algebra and real analysis, you might guess, correctly, that what we need to put in place to address these precisely are appropriate algebraic and analytical (well, topological) structures. Let us describe this a bit further, in case you do not have any idea about what we mean by algebraic and topological. One can loosely think of the algebraic structure required here as an analog of what you have learnt in your linear algebra course as vector spaces. Your knowledge of vector spaces will come short, as soon as we face infinite-dimensional spaces. We will spend a great deal of time learning about the differences and similarities of finite- and infinite-dimensional spaces. In order to perform anything useful with signals, we need to equip our algebraic structure with an additional structure (topological) which associates a notion of size to our signals, and allows us to, roughly speaking, measure things. This relates what we are studying to your real analysis course. After we equipped ourselves with enough structure, we finally start doing some "useful" stuff with signals, in particular, we learn how to transform them and give a so-called frequency-domain representations. We hopefully agree that these transformations are useful.

You could use this paragraph at any point in the course that you ask yourself the question: what does ... have to do with signals? Hopefully, at least for most of you, the richness of the structures put in place to study infinite-dimensional spaces would be the fascinating part of this course.


  1. Please see Policy concerning academic integrity.
  2. Please see Disability Services regarding equity for students with disabilities and Equity Office for other equity related concerns.
  3. Course grading: I will discount your lowest homework score. If your final exam score is below 40%, then your course mark will be the lower of (1) your final exam score or (2) your mark as computed normally.

For questions, contact me with bahman at or with 613-533-2441 (I prefer emails)