Annenberg School for Communication

Communication Program



© 1999, 2000 A. Michael Noll



Instructor: Dr. A. Michael Noll, Professor

Term: Spring 2001



Technology has become extremely pervasive in the modern world. Technologies basic to computing and to communications enable an exciting variety of novel products and services with great impacts both on consumers and on the very structure of the communications industry itself.

It is essential that people working in all aspects of the communications field be literate and knowledgeable in the various electronic technologies and engineering concepts that are basic to modern communications systems and products. This technology literacy is necessary to facilitate meaningful communication with the engineers responsible for designing these systems and products. Furthermore, various evaluations, trade offs, and decisions will be better made if the technological aspects of these systems and products are better understood and appreciated.


The objective of the course is to provide the students with an understanding of the various electronic technological and engineering concepts basic to modern communications systems and products.


The course is designed to give a thorough treatment of the technologies that are basic to modern communications products and systems. The treatment is broad with a technical depth adequate for non-engineers. Appropriate mathematical descriptions, along with explanations of the mathematics as needed, will be utilized where necessary to facilitate an understanding of the technology.

The course begins with the concept of simple harmonic motion which is used to develop sinusoidal waveforms and the Fourier expansion of a waveform. Frequency and spectra are then described. Alternating and direct current electrical circuits, voltage and current, and circuit elements are explained. The concept of frequency and time multiplexing is developed and applied to amplitude, frequency, and pulse modulation. The process of converting an analog signal to its digital representation are explained along with its application to carrier systems and the and the compact disc.

The objective of most of the content of the course is to demystify technology and to illuminate the basic concepts fundamental to modern communication systems.


No technical knowledge is required. However, a rudimentary knowledge of basic arithmetic would be helpful, although all mathematical techniques used in the course are thoroughly explained.


The final grade will be determined from quizzes. A total of four quizzes will be given. Class participation and assignments will also be considered, particularly in borderline cases.


Only the highest standards of ethical conduct will be tolerated in this course. Accordingly, any student responsible for any violations of ethical conduct will receive a failing grade for the course and the incident will be reported to the School and the University with a recommendation for the imposition of additional sanctions, such as suspension form the Annenberg School and from the University. Unethical conduct includes such actions as plagiarism, cheating on examinations, fabrication, and purchasing papers or other assignments.


This syllabus is subject to modification and change. The most recent changes will be given in class.


• Harmonic Motion

- sine wave

- frequency, period, amplitude, phase

• Waveforms

- time-domain representation

- Fourier expansion & analysis

- frequency-domain representation (spectrum)

- bandwidth, filters

• Electrical Circuits

- voltage, current

- direct current (Ohm’s law, resistance, power)

- alternating current

• System Elements

- transducers

- amplifiers

- decibels

• Semiconductors

- transistors

- integrated circuits

• Multiplexing

- frequency

- time

• Analog Modulation

- amplitude modulation

- frequency modulation

- FM & AM stereo

• Pulse Code Modulation & Digital

- analog to digital conversion

- TI carrier

- digital audio compact disc (CD)

• Introduction to Digital Computers & Data Communications

- hardware configuration

- software & programming languages

- data communications


Course Text: (required)

A. Michael Noll, Introduction to Telecommunication Electronics (Second Edition), Artech House, Inc. (Norwood, MA), 1995.

Supplementary Text:

John R. Pierce & A. Michael Noll, Signals, Scientific American Library (New York, NY), 1990.

Reference Texts:

Jefferson C. Boyce, Modern Electronics, McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, NY), 1982.

Don L. Cannon & Gerald Luecke, Understanding Communication Systems, Texas Instruments Incorporated (Dallas, TX), 1984.

Henry Jacobowitz, Electricity Made Simple, Doubleday & Company, Inc. (New York, NY), 1959.

James Jespersen & Jane Fitz-Randolph, Mercury's Web, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1981.

James Martin, Telecommunications and the Computer (Second Edition), Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1976.

James Martin, Future Developments in Telecommunications (Second Edition), Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1977.

Harry Mileaf (Editor-in-Chief), Electronics One, Hayden Book Company, Inc. (Rochelle Park, NJ), 1976.

Forrest M. Mims, III, Getting Started in Electronics, Radio Shack, 1983.

Farl J. Waters, ABC's of Electronics, Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc. (Indianapolis, IN), 1981.




1 Jan. 8 Introduction • Powers of 10 • Metric Notation

2 Jan. 22 • Signals • Periodicity • Sine Wave • Fourier

3 Jan. 29 Spectrum • Filters • Bandwidth • REVIEW (Q & A)

4 Feb. 5 QUIZ #1

5 Feb. 12 Electricity • Ohm's Law • Series / Parallel

6 Feb. 26 Power • Reactance • Impedance • Filters • REVIEW (Q & A)

7 Mar. 5 QUIZ #2

8 Mar. 19 Transducers • Amplification • Decibels • Diodes • Triodes

9 Mar. 26 Semiconductors • MOSFET

10 Apr. 2 AM • FM • REVIEW (Q & A)

11 Apr. 9 QUIZ #3

12 Apr. 16 Sampling • Digital • CDs • CD-ROM • T1

13 Apr. 23 Computers • Data Communication • REVIEW ( Q & A)

14 Apr. 30 QUIZ #4 • Course Conclusion



Quiz days will also include a review of the quiz, lecture, and a preview of forthcoming material.

Week 14 is a make-up session because of all the Monday holidays.