Learning signal processing using interactive notebooks

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    Learning Signal Processing UsingInteractive Notebooks

    Richard Shiavi

    Index Terms Interactive learning, MATLAB, signal processing.

    I. SUMMARYSignal processing is now being used in many disciplines of engineering because of the omnipresence

    of desktop computers and sophisticated application environments. Many concepts involved in signalprocessing are difficult to learn because: they are embedded in discrete mathematics and not easy tovisualize; and the background in which to embed the learning is lacking. This usually leads to erroneousimplementation of a technique and difficulty in finding relevance of the material. In order to addressthese issues and teach techniques such as frequency analysis and signal modeling, a series of interactivenotebooks have been developed. These notebooks are written in the integrated environment of MicrosoftWord and MATLAB. Each notebook presents a principle and demonstrates its implementation via scriptin MATLAB. The student is then asked to exercise other aspects of the principle interactively by makingsimple changes in the MATLAB script. The student then receives immediate feedback concerning whatis happening and can relate theoretical concepts to real effects upon a signal. He is finally required toimplement the learned procedure on a signal from a database of actual measurements. Signals measuredfrom real-world applications are used as much as possible. Students enjoy learning in this environmentbecause it helps them visualize immediately the results of the mathematical manipulations and enablesthem to explore interactively.

    Richard Shiavi received the B,E. degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University, Villanova, PA, in 1965 and the M.S.and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, in 1969 and 1972, respectively.Since 1972, he has been actively engaged in teaching and research at Vanderbilt University and is Professor of Biomedical

    Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering. His main professional interests are in signal processing and engineering educationand main research interests are in bioelectric signal processing and signal measurement. Research publications appear in the literatureand congress proceedings of biomedical engineering and biomechanics. He has written a textbook entitled Introduction to AppliedStatistical Signal Analysis (San Diego, CA: Academic, 1999) and has been one of the main developers for a Web-based course forfirst-year engineering students entitled Introduction to Computing in Engineering.

    Manuscript received February 15, 1999; revised September 21, 1999.The author is with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235 USA.Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9359(99)09794-0.

    00189359/99$10.00 1999 IEEE


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