Course Title: EE 273: Digital Communications

Class Information: Fall 2014
Class time: 1300-1415 T R
Class location: Rowell 110

Instructor Information: Dr. Jeff Frolik
357 Votey
Phone: 802.656.0732

Office Hours: Open office hours or otherwise email for an appointment

Prerequisite: EE 174: Intro to Comm Systems
EE 302 or STAT 151

Course Objectives: To develop techniques for the analysis of modern communications systems in the presence of noise. To investigate new trends in telecommunications.
Text: B. P. Lathi, Modern Digital and Analog Communication Systems, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Grading: Exam I: 15%
Exam II: 20%
Final: 25%
Quizzes: 20%
Lab/Project: 20%

Grade Scale: A [90, 100]
B [80, 90)
C [70, 80)
D [60, 70)
F [0, 60)
breaks within ranges are used to set +/-

Topics and Tentative Schedule: Review: Probability (CH 8 - ~ 1 week )
Random Processes (CH 9 - ~ 1 week)
Review: Amplitude and Angle Modulation (CH 4 & 5 - ~ 1 week)
Analog Systems in Noise (CH 10 - ~ 1.5 weeks)
Digital Systems in Noise (CH 11- ~ 2.5 weeks)
Optimal Signal Detection (CH 13 - ~ 2 weeks)
Source Coding (CH 14 - ~ 2 weeks)
Channel Coding (CH 15 - ~ 2 weeks)
Emerging Technologies (Instructor Notes - ~ 1 week)

General: The instructor posts all assignments, solutions, and additional material at the Blackboard site for this class. This can be found at:

Homework problems will either be assigned from the text or provided by the instructor. Homework will not be graded but the solutions will be available on Bb.

All exams will be take-home in format. Expect the first two exams to be given around the beginning of October and November. At least one weeks notice will be given. The last exam will be given out during final week of class and will be due during the final exam period. All exams will have a comprehensive component. Graduate students may be given additional and/or more advanced problems to work on these exams.

Each week there will be a short, in-class quiz covering the previous week's materials. Students are encouraged to work the homework in preparation for these quizzes. On all quizzes you will be allowed to use ONE sheet of notes. You may use both sides of the paper and you may put anything you want on it. No additional notes or text may be used unless specifically noted.

Throughout the semester, the instructor will give students feedback on how they are progressing in the course.

Labs/Project: Working in teams of two (or three), students will perform three (3) labs during the semester which complement the material being studied. These will be (1) a simulation of noise and the central limit theorem, (2) an investigation of various digital communication methods and (3) the effects of distortion on digital communication techniques. These labs will constitute 10% of the final grade.

In addition, undergraduate student teams give one 10 minute presentation. The topic will be based on either a laboratory or simulation project performed by the team. Graduate students will work individually on their project. Students will be graded on the quality of the work and their contribution levels (determined by peer review). The presentation will account for 10% of the final grade.

The tentative due dates for the presentation related material are as follows:
  • Presentation title and team members: 10% (10/21)
  • Abstract: 15% (11/4)
  • Rough draft of presentation material: 25% (11/18)
  • Presentation material: 25% (12/2)
  • Presentations: 25% (Final Exam Period 12/5)
  • Calculators: There is no restriction on the type of calculator one may use. Note, however, that the instructor will emphasize concepts and techniques on the exams. Therefore, just having the correct answer will not guarantee you full credit if no work has been shown. Calculators may not be allowed on some exams.
    Attendance: Class attendance will not be checked; however, attendance is expected and students will be responsible for all assignments and materials covered in class.
    Plagiarism: Any students found giving and/or receiving assistance on Exams or Quizzes will receive a failing grade for the course. Be clear that take home exams are to be completed without any discussions with classmates, peers, or ANY other person. However, students are encouraged to work together and to exchange ideas when working on their presentations. Students must be sure to reference their work properly, including all web sources. UVM's policy on honesty is clearly defined and can be found at
    ADA: Students with disabilities should contact the instructor as soon as possible regarding necessary accommodations.

    ABET Matrix:

    0 - no contribution
    1 - very low level
    5 - very high level

  • Outcome #1: an ability to apply knowledge of mathmematics, science, and engineering to the analysis of electrical engineering problems; Contribution: 5
  • Outcome #2: an ability to design and conduct scientific and engineering experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data; Contribution: 2
  • Outcome #3: an ability to plan, specify, design, implement, and operate a system, component, or process to meet desired needs; Contribution: 1
  • Outcome #4: an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams; Contribution: 3
  • Outcome #5: an ability to identify, formulate, and solve electrical engineering problems; Contribution: 3
  • Outcome #6: an understanding of professional, legal, and ethical responsibility; Contribution: 0
  • Outcome #7: an ability to convey technical material through formal written work products which satisfy accepted standards for writing style; Contribution: 3
  • Outcome #8: an ability to convey technical material through oral presentation and interaction with an audience; Contribution: 4
  • Outcome #9: broad education and knowledge of contemporary issues necessary to understand the impact of electrical engineering solutions in a global and societal context; Contribution: 1
  • Outcome #10: a recognition and appreciation of the need for, and ability to engage in life-long learning and critical thinking; Contribution: 1
  • Outcome #11: an ability to use modern engineering techniques, skills, and tools, including computer-based tools, necessary for analysis and design; Contribution: 5