Electrical Engineering 120 — Signals and Systems (4 Units)

Course Overview


EE120 is an introductory signal processing class that covers the fundamentals of signal representation and decomposition, as well as representing operations on signals through DT-LTI and CT-LTI systems. Furthermore, the course discusses the relationship between the time domain and frequency domain, as well as the z-domain and s-domain. Other topics include A-to-D and D-to-A conversion, filters, Bode plots, modulation schemes, and feedback.


  • EE16B
  • Math 53, 54

Topics Covered

  • Continuous and discrete-time transform analysis techniques
  • Linear and time-invariant systems
  • Transfer functions
  • Fourier series, Fourier transform, Laplace and Z-transforms
  • Sampling and reconstruction
  • Solution of differential equations and difference equations using transforms
  • Frequency response, Bode plots, stability analysis
  • Feedback control systems


Course Work (could vary by professor)

  • Weekly Homeworks
  • Python Labs (4 per semester)
  • 1 Midterm
  • 1 Final
  • 3 Midterms
  • No final

Time Commitment

Lecture is generally 4 hours a week, with an hour of discussion. Problem sets could take longer than 5hrs per week to complete. Python labs differ in workload, but on average each is about the same as a standard problem set.

Choosing the Course

When to take

If you are interested in EE disciplines such as communications, controls, and signals, take this class as soon as possible because many upper division EE classes require this course. Also, take this class soon after EE16B because EE120 builds on the topics covered in EE16B.

What's next?

This class opens the door to many upper division EE classes, especially those in the 120's such as EE121, EE123 and EEC128. Also, this class leads to graduate level EE courses, including EE221A, EE225A, EE225B, EE224A, and EE224B.

Usefulness for Research or Internships

EE120 explains fundamental ideas about the frequency domain in detail, and can be very useful in a diverse range of research topics, including communications, controls, image processing, robotics, computer vision.

Additional Comments/Tips

EE16B approaches systems as being about how they evolve with time and provides a brief introduction to signal processing as an application of linear algebra. EE120 focuses almost entirely on how to transform signals and extract information from there. Systems are considered primarily in asking how they transform their input. Also, if you feel like you're falling behind on the material, Signals and Systems by Oppenheim is a good textbook to read.

Last edited: Summer 2020