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Introduction to

Signals and Systems


By:
Mrs. Mridula

What is a signal?
A signal is a function that "conveys information about

the behavior or attributes of some phenomenon.


Examples
Electrical signals
Voltages and currents in a circuit
Acoustic signals
Acoustic pressure (sound) over time

Video signals
Intensity level of a pixel (camera, video) over time

How is a Signal Represented?


Mathematically, signals are represented as a function

of one or more independent variables.


For instance a black & white video signal intensity is
dependent on x, y coordinates and time t f(x,y,t)
Mostly signals are a function of a single variable: time
f(t)

Continuous & Discrete-Time Signals


Continuous-Time Signals
Most signals in the real world are

continuous time, as the scale is


infinitesimally fine.
Eg: voltage, velocity,
Denote by x(t), where the time interval
may be bounded (finite) or infinite

x(t)

Discrete-Time Signals
Some real world and many digital

signals are discrete time, as they are


sampled
Eg: pixels, daily stock price (anything
that a digital computer processes)
Denote by x[n], where n is an integer
value that varies discretely

x[n]

Signal Properties
Periodic signals: a signal is periodic if it repeats itself after a

fixed period T, i.e. x(t) = x(t+T) for all t. A sin(t) signal is


periodic.
Even and odd signals: a signal is even if x(-t) = x(t) (i.e. it
can be reflected in the axis at zero). A signal is odd if x(-t) =
-x(t). Examples are cos(t) and sin(t) signals, respectively.
Exponential and sinusoidal signals: a signal is (real)
exponential if it can be represented as x(t) = Ceat. A signal is
(complex) exponential if it can be represented in the same
form but C and a are complex numbers.
Step and pulse signals: A pulse signal is one which is nearly
completely zero, apart from a short spike, d(t). A step signal is
zero up to a certain time, and then a constant value after that
time, u(t).

What is a System?
Systems process input signals to produce output signals
Examples:
A circuit involving a capacitor can be viewed as a system that

transforms the source voltage (signal) to the voltage (signal)


across the capacitor.
A CD player takes the signal on the CD and transforms it into
a signal sent to the loud speaker
A communication system is generally composed of three subsystems, the transmitter, the channel and the receiver. The
channel typically attenuates and adds noise to the transmitted
signal which must be processed by the receiver

How is a System Represented?


A system takes a signal as an input and transforms it

into another signal


Input signal
x(t)

System

Output signal
y(t)

In a very broad sense, a system can be represented as

the ratio of the output signal over the input signal

Example: An Electrical Circuit


System
R

vs

+
-

vs (t ) vc (t )
R
dv (t )
i (t ) C c
dt
dvc (t ) 1
1

vc (t )
v s (t )
dt
RC
RC
i (t )

vc

Continuous & Discrete-Time


Systems
Continuous-Time
dv (t ) 1
1
Systems

dt

Most continuous time systems

represent how continuous


signals are transformed via
differential equations.
E.g. circuit

Discrete-Time

Systems

RC

vc (t )

RC

vs (t )

dv(t )
v(t ) f (t )
dt

First order differential equations

y[n] 1.01 y[n 1] x[n]

v[n]
v[n 1]
f [ n]
m
m
represent how discrete signals

Most discrete time systems

are transformed via


difference equations
E.g. bank account

dv(n) v(n) v((n 1))

dt

First order difference equations

Properties of a System
Causal: a system is causal if the output at a time, only

depends on input values up to that time.


Linear: a system is linear if the output of the scaled sum
of two input signals is the equivalent scaled sum of
outputs
Time-invariance: a system is time invariant if the
systems output is the same, given the same input signal,
regardless of time.

How are Signal & Systems Related?


Assume a signal is represented as
x(t) = d(t) + n(t)

x(t) = d(t) + n(t)

System

y(t) d(t)

1. Continuous-Time Signals
Signal that has a value for all points in time
Function of time
Written as x(t) because the signal x is a
function of time
Commonly found in the physical world
ex. Human speech
Displayed graphically as a line
x(t)

2. Discrete-Time Signals
Signal that has a value for only specific points in time
Typically formed by sampling a continuous-time signal
Taking the value of the original waveform at specific intervals in

time

Function of the sample value, n


Write as x[n]
Often called a sequence

Commonly found in the digital world


ex. wav file or mp3

Displayed graphically as individual values


Called a stem plot

x[n]

Sample number
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Discrete-Time Digital
Discrete-time sequences are continuous in

values, but discrete only in time


Digital signals are discrete in values and
discrete in time (they can only take on
specific values)

Systems

System
A collection of items that together
performs a function
Modifies / transforms an input to give an
output
Represented by
x(t)

System
T{ }

y(t) = T{x(t)}

T = input2

y(t) = T{x(t)} = x2(t)

ex. A squaring system


x(t)

System Examples
Real-World Examples of Systems
Circuits
Car
Inputs Steering wheel, force on

accelerometer and brakes


Outputs Position of car, velocity
Chemical processes
Electromechanical systems (motors)
Economics, stock market
Biological processes (heart)

Two Types of Systems


Continuous-time systems
Operate on continuous-time signals
Commonly found in the physical world
Represented mathematically using differential equations
System parameters are defined on a continuum of time

Discrete-time systems
Operate on discrete-time signals
ex. Computer algorithms
Represented mathematically by difference equations
System parameters are defined only at discrete points in
time

Hybrid Systems
Most real systems are hybrid systems
Use both CT and DT systems

ex. Audio delay system

a(t)

CT
System
Amplification

b(t)

ADC

c[n]

Analog-to-Digital
converter
-Sampler
-CT to DT

DT
System
ex. Delay

d[n]

DAC

e(t)

Digital-to-Analog
converter
- DT to CT

CT
System

f(t)

ex. Smoothing filter

Audio Delay System Example


a(t)

CT
System
Amplification

b(t)

ADC

Analog-to-Digital
converter
-Sampler
-CT to DT

a(t)

DT
System
ex. Delay

d[n]

DAC

c[n]

t
e(t)

e(t)

Digital-to-Analog
converter
- DT to CT

b(t)

t
d[n]

c[n]

CT
System

f(t)

ex. Smoothing filter

Sample at a
constant rate (time
period)

n
e(t)

Creating Useable Systems


Purpose of system design
To create an I/O relationship that is predictable

The system I/O relationship must be the same every time

the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow


Time Invariant

Given any type of input, the output follows a reasonable

relationship

Out

Easiest is Linear

Linear

Out

Nonlinear

?
In

In

LTI System
Most engineering systems are designed to

be linear and time invariant (LTI) so that


they are predictable
The rest of this course focuses on LTI
systems
How to analyze
How to use
How to design