Master Course Description

No: EE 420

Title: Design in Communications

Credits: 4

UW Course Catalog Description

Coordinator: Hui Liu, Assoc. Professor of Electrical Engineering

Goals: To apply knowledge of fundamental principles of digital communication systems towards problems in system design

Learning Objectives:At the end of this course, students will be able to

  1. Simulate performance of assigned digital communication schemes in white Gaussian Noise environments in MATLAB
  2. Compare the bit error rates obtained from simulation to analytical results derived in EE417, 420.
  3. Determine the advantages of error correcting codes on the performance of digital communication systems.
  4. Complete design projects of digital communication systems given desired data rate, power constraints and required error rate performance.
  5. Write project reports commenting on approach and results obtained.
  6. Write a term paper on an emerging communications technology of interest and present to class.
  7. Absorb a sense of current real world issues via field trip and/or guest seminars from local companies.

Textbook: J. G. Proakis, M. Salehi and G. Bauch, Contemporary Communication Systems using MATLAB , PWS Pub. Co., 2000 (3rd ed.)

Reference Texts: B. Sklar, ``Digital Communications: Fundamentals and Applications'', Prentice Hall, Second Edition, 2001.

Prerequisites by Topic:

  1. Linear Systems Theory in Discrete and Continuous Time (EE235, EE341)
  2. Basic Signals in Discrete and Continuous Time (EE235, EE341)
  3. Differential and Integral Calculus
  4. Principles of Applied Probability and its application to digital signal processing (EE416)
  5. Principles/Elements of Digital Communication Systems (EE417)
  6. MATLAB Programming Experience (EE341, EE417)


  1. Wireless system overview, wireless fading channels (Lab 1, 2 weeks)
  2. Baseband transmission and channel equalization (Lab 2: 2 weeks)
  3. Channel encoding and Viterbi decoding (Lab 3, 2 week)
  4. Multicarrier communications and SimuLink implementation (Lab 4, 2 week)
  5. Final report and presentation (1 week)

Course Structure: The class meets for two lectures a week. For the most part, the students will work on lab projects under the supervision of the instructor. The initial 2 weeks of the course are devoted to tutorial and discussions on the wireless communication design challenges. After the concepts are established, the students will spend 2 weeks on two small scale projects. The following weeks will cover advanced topics. Each team will be asked to write a proposal detailing the scope of the final comprehensive project, the design approach(s), and the implementation plan. When possible, guest lectures from local industry and field trip provide insight into current problems in this rapidly changing field.

Computer Resources: The course is heavily dependant on PC or workstation running MATLAB; the students may perform their tasks on EE Dept. machines or their own personal PCs as appropriate.

Laboratory Resources: Computer labs.

Grading: 80% labs and projects, 20% term paper/presentation.

Outcome Coverage: This course provides the ABET major design experience and addresses all of the basic ABET outcomes.

Outcomes: High, Medium, Low indicates level of coverage.

(a, High) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering. The course builds on analytical skills acquired in EE416/417 and seeks to develop greater proficiency in computational/simulation methods. Engineering judgement is developed through the use of modeling/simulation techniques to validate results from theory.

(b, High) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data. Students determine the required sample sizes for statistically reliable Monte Carlo simulations. These techniques are used to solve real-world problems not amenable to analysis and as substitutes for physical experiments.

(c, Medium) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability. The project challenges the students to think `synthetically' as required for design in contrast to the primarily `analytical' bent of most classroom pedagogy. Most design parameters require tradeoffs (e.g., system performance vs. implementation complexity/hardware cost) and some considerations of other social and political impacts.

(d, Low) an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams. Students will operate in teams of 2-3 to design the communication system in a community of learners format. Each group member contributes differently to the project based on their strengths and interests, within the constraints of completing a successful demonstration of their designs.

(e, Medium) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. The open problems in the design projects challenge the students to formulate solutions of their own.

(f, Low) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. Since communication networks form the underpinnings of the information age, ethical issues relating to the Internet (privacy, security, etc.) are discussed in class meetings. Professional responsibility are addressed in the context of wireless system design under regulatory constraints. RF emission parameters will be taken into account in making a final choice among several design alternatives.

(g, High) an ability to communicate effectively. Labs and projects as well as class presentations inculcate this important skill. Effectiveness in technical writing and presentation skills has a large impact on the final grade.

(h, Medium) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. The impact of design choices on performance specifications is prototypical of real-world engineering experiences. Digital communication techniques are all-pervasive in today's society and their impact continues to grow. Each student is required to write an essay on the social and economic impact of wireless technologies.

(i, Medium) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning. The course emphasizes the rapidly evolving nature of wireless technologies. Students are required to write an essay on state-of-the-art wireless systems and how they impact their daily life. A variety of references will be required for the final report from web sources, journal articles, textbooks, and appropriate interviews.

(j, Medium) a knowledge of contemporary issues. The entire class is structured to address state-of-the-art wireless technologies that form the basis for good communication system design.

(k, Medium) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. Students use Matlab to solve assigned problems and projects.

ABET Criterion 4 Considerations

Engineering Standards: The design problems chosen reflect technology goals to be achieved in communication sub-system design. Discussion of design goals create awareness of current state-of-art and how standardization activities/bodies operate.

Realistic Constraints: The design problems are crafted to highlight technology vs. cost trade-offs in the design. For example, choice of implementation (that directly relates to system cost) is explicitly highlighted and is expected to be documented in the project report.

Prepared By: Hui Liu

Last revised: 5/1/07