Peer Legacy for ECE438

All students who have previously taken ECE438 are welcome to use this page to leave comments/give advice for future students.

  • If you understood the material of ECE301 pretty well, then ECE438 isn't a gigantic step higher in difficulty, in my opinion. Be sure to understand what you are doing during the labs and that will help you understand the lecture's material. The textbook for ECE 438 - "Digital Signal Processing" by Proakis - is very mediocre but has some examples. It wasn't of much help. The ECE 301 textbook - "Signals & Systems" by Oppenheim - is still a good reference and useful to keep. There were a few times during lecture that the math became a little "hairy" and I wasn't able to follow step-by-step what was being written on the blackboard. If you aren't the best at digesting mathematical steps "on the spot", be sure to review your notes after class, because if you understand completely the steps behind all of the "formulas", then you're probably pretty well prepared for the exams. Even if you don't completely understand all of the "formulas" 100%, you can still do pretty well by doing a ton of practice problems. And there are plenty of old exams to look at on old ECE 438 websites.--rscheidt
  • If you understood your 301, this course will be very fun. Bouman gets an A for the lab portion. And contrary to some rumors floating around, Mimi isn't actually terrifying and you will enjoy her lectures :) --weim
  • Labs are awesome as you get to deal with practical aspect of signal and image processing.You will learn all sort of things to create a digital sound, modification of images and designing filters,to name a few.Lectures are little difficult to understand,but if one pays attention and follow every sentence the professor is speaking,it will help you.Whatever is there on the exams are based on the concepts in the homeworks and everything is covered in the class.The book is not recommended for this course.Professor Mimi provides all the notes and there are links to other professor's notes who had taught this class earlier.--apanja
  • 438, in a word, is awesome. It is one of those few EE course that I think is complemented excellently with the labs, and you actually see, in practical, what you're doing in class. If you're scared of coding and have heard from people that there is alot of MATLAB, fret not. As Prof Mimi said in the first week; MATLAB will be the last of your worries in ECE 438. The math is a little challenging and new; but Mimi gives good examples to link it to, so if you relate it to the real world, it makes sense instantly.
One caveat though, don't rely on friends' notes for this class; if you attend all the lectures, you might have to spend at most 2-3 hours outside class for understanding even the hardest parts; this helped me a great deal.
Conversely, if you don't attend lectures, the math will look scary, and create a general feeling of sadness in your life. So attend class!! Dlamba 01:50, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
  • As other people have mentioned, if you liked/did well in ECE 301, you will [most likely] enjoy this class. The material is relevant to the real world and I have often found myself thinking about the material out of class when I see real-life applications. In order to really succeed in the class, it's my opinion that you need to do the HOMEWORK. Yes, you may think you understand the material in class, but you won't know the caliber of your understanding unless you attempt real problems. Additionally, if you don't understand what's going on, ask questions! either in class, office hours, or just asking other students; I guarantee that someone will know and be willing to help you grasp the concept. --pclay
  • If you were interested in and did well ECE301, I recommend you to take 438. The first part of ECE 438 is pretty similar to ECE301. You will learn about furier transfrom and z-transform again, which you learned from ECE301. By taking ECE438, I understand better about those. When I took ECE301, I did not understand it well even though I got good grade on ECE301. And the second part is basically about filter. Before you take ECE438, I also recommend that you should figure out how to use Matlab because ECE438 lab is based on Matlab. Lastly, if you do homework and attend every lecture classes, I am pretty sure that you are doing well in ECE438.---sje
  • ECE438 is related course after ECE301. The understandings about the ECE301 will greatly help to study this course. I took professor Mimi's class. It is important to take all the lectures because she gives exams with materials she discussed in the class. Taking all the lectures without absence will greatly improve the grade. ECE438 lab is related to the lecture and it teaches practical cases about ECE438. --Changkeun
  • ECE 438 is similar to 301 in style and topic but is well taught and anything you might have forgotten from 301 will certainly be covered again. The lab component for this course really helps to see what it is you're doing in the lecture component. Also, because the book for this course provides no help it makes attending lecture very important. --kheldman
  • I decided to take DSP because I have a penchant for taking too many credit hours. To be honest, the first few weeks had me thinking about dropping the class (it had been two semesters since I took ECE301, and I never really liked it to being with). However, I realized that the work was actually very rewarding. Dr. Boutin's lectures are excellent (albeit packed with enough information to make your head spin), and the labs are actually fun (even at 7:30am). This class is solely responsible for my interest in signal processing, and helped me better understand topics from very different fields (especially frequency responses, which are used extensively in controls applications). If you are unsure about your ability to handle the course, get some self-confidence and dive in! The bark is worse than the bite, and it is much more interesting than the endless Fourier transforms of ECE301. To attain success: go to class! Missing a single day will put you behind in the notes (and they're generally not available online). Also, review homework solutions. The homeworks are excellent tools for preparing for midterms (which are difficult, but fair). This class is definitely manageable, and absolutely necessary if you want to decode the secret messages in Lab 5.2. --Ryan Taylor
  • If you liked ECE301 this course is right for you. It provides the foundations for the understanding of digital signals and how to process them (photos, songs,etc). If you do the homework and go to class you are fine for this class. I would recommend reviewing the ece301 material before taking this class as it relies heavily on it. The labs are great by the way! One of my favorites of the labs i have taken. --Carlos Leon

  • ECE 438 is a great class to take if you are looking for a class that has a theory heavy lecture accompanied by a lab that applies that theory to very real applications. For example we would learn the math behind digital image filters in class, then in lab we would apply them to real digital images in MATLAB by writing algorithms that would modify the images pixel by pixel. Very cool! --Chris Pfeiffer
  • The course is a continuation of 301. The first half of the course will be the not so interesting Fourier and Z transforms but the latter part will be real world image and sound processing. One will literally make Photoshop features using Matlab (blurring images, getting rid of noise etc. all using Matlab.), play around with some speech signals to improvise them etc. --Hersh Lalwani 16:49, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
  • If you liked ECE 301, ECE 438 is a must take course. Instead of sitting around, proving linearity, finding system properties, etc. you actually use transforms to do real engineering. The concept of the Fourier Transform is extended to the discrete domain so that it may be computed using digital processors which is the basis of all DSP. There is also a rich lab experience in which you apply much of what you have learned to do some image and speech processing. --Mike Mitchell
  • As a student that did not complete ECE 301 prior to attending ECE 438, I found the material rather challenging. Portions of the material presented in ECE 438 have been presented in other courses that I have completed, but not to the level that it is presented in this course. I did feel that I was at a slight disadvantage, when compared with students that had previously completed ECE 301 in development of a Digital Signal Processing vocabulary and practice with necessary mathematical examples. As has been stated by other postings, I feel that a better course textbook could be selected. I often had difficulty relating material from lecture to the textbook. While, I occasionally found the laboratory exercises demanding, I feel that I was able to comprehend the material better from laboratory exercises rather than in class lectures. In the lab exercises, students are able to see first hand how the course material is applied. --Michael Nolte
  • I loved the second half of the material, namely the image processing part.The first half not so much.The course in itself may seem very very difficult and to be honest did give me nightmares before and after the exams but Prof.Boutin is an awesome professor ( her energy is simply amazing when it comes to teaching) and kept me not-so worried about the course.But woe WILL be you if you cannot do the math in her class.It was worth it though.The labs are alot of fun ( just as tiresome though).They aren't as much coding as it is understanding what is going on.They certainly help in understanding the lecture material too so make sure you know what you are doing in the labs.And yes you need to attend class otherwise the course material just becomes a huge elephant in your brain.The textbook is pretty much useless ( Proakis) but there are plenty of online sources you can refer to and there are plenty of links provided on Rhea itself. It would be beneficial if you use those. --Anshita
  • I prefer the first part of the course, the stuff you learn in ECE301 and maybe some of the speech processing stuff, mainly because my interest in DSP is more about communications and transmitting signals rather than using it to analyze images. However, I love Professor Boutin and how she's honest about how you're doing in the class. She can see if you're making the effort or not, and she's extremely helpful because she doesn't just hand you the answer (unless she runs out of time in office hours), she asks you questions until you get there. Don't skip class, because it's really difficult to catch up, and also because her notes are the Bible. Her style of exams isn't like regular ones; she asks you about concepts and the answers are usually about 3 lines long - it may be taught mathematically, but the answers are very conceptual and very unlike the chug-the-math-out exams that we're used to. I never bought the textbook, but I haven't seen any need to. --Kimberly
  • I love the second half of the material mainly because that I'm more interested in image processing and it's easier for me to visualize and understand images rather than equations or sounds. The lab is much more fun compare to the lecture because you'll get to to something interesting. It's not like I was told before I take this class. The exams are more conceptual rather than math heavy, but you'll defenitely need to understand the math in order to do well in the class. And the best part is, you don't need the textbook and save some money as the materials available online and the class notes are more than enough.--hirawan
  • This course is very fun and useful. It is relevant to the materials from 301, but you don't have to worry about math as much as you do in 301. 301 teaches you fundamental methods to do all different kinds of Fourier transform while this course teaches you how to use those techniques you pick up at 301 to solve some practical problem. Professor Mimi does a good job in organizing the course; you need to follow her lecture and work hard consistently in her section to get a good grade. The lab is correlated to the lecture, and it helps you to understand the materials covered in the lecture.--lyang
  • This class was probably my favorite this semester. I am a EE major, but I have seen the other side (CompE), and I would personally recommend this course to CompE's. Every ECE student should consider taking this course, FFTs are must knows seeing how they are so prevalent in industry and in graduate research. Mimi is a great professor even if (or perhaps because) she is tough.--Kelton
  • ECE438 does a good job of connecting theory to application. The course covers topics such as image and audio processing, and students learn the theory necessary to see the relation between the two. Among other things, the course shows how data rates, upsampling, and downsampling are important to consider in signal processing, and it shows how a digital representation in the computer relates to the ideal analog signal in the real world. The labs in this course are very insightful as to how the course material applies to real applications. If you enjoy signal processing, consider taking ECE440 at some point as well. Unfortunately you cannot count ECE438 and ECE440 to satisfy advanced selectives for your degree requirement, but they are both very useful classes you should consider taking. - Kirk
  • ECE 438 begins where 301 left off and teaches students about speech and image processing. The labs for this course are actually very closely related to the material taught in class unlike many other ECE courses. I like this course because it really shows me how important EEs are to the world. Now whenever I look at 'Beats' headphones, I definitely understand a bit more about what was done to make the audio quality that good. The exams are of course difficult but they're a challenge and uphold the high standard that Purdue has for its ECE courses--Vineet
  • ECE 438 is a very interesting class and I definitely learned a lot from it. My favorite part was the labs which are very practical and you really get to do some cool stuff. The lectures are very theory intensive, but tie in well with the labs so you get the practical side of things as well. I highly recommend attending lectures because you will be lost if you don’t keep up. Also, while there is a lot of math in the lectures, try to look at the big picture and get a feel for the concepts being taught. The exams are quite difficult and the only way to do well is to have a thorough understanding of the material. --Ratan Rego
  • ECE438 is in interesting class as it deals with a lot of practical applications that isn’t normal seen is ECE classes. Such applications deal with very basic voice recognition and image processing. Make sure you know you fundaments from *ECE301. The lack of solid background in *ECE301 makes this class a lot tougher. Since the labs and some homeworks are matlab based, you should be comfortable with matlab as well. Attending lecture is very important as the course text isn’t used a whole lot. --Michael Shen
  • ECE438 is one of the very few EE classes where you learn theory, but actually apply this to real problems. Voice recognition, image manipulation, just to name a few are the things that make ECE438 so interesting. The first part of the semester goes over things you probably learnt in ECE301 (transforms) but then it becomes a lot more applied after that, so I advice everyone should attend every lecture possible. And since most of the material in the first part of the class is the foundation for what the second part of the class covers, if you do not understand anything, it is best to get help as soon as possible before your lack of understanding compounds and it becomes really hard to follow the class. -- Willie Haywood
  • ECE438 is the extension of ECE301 and ECE302. It is the most interesting ECE class I have taken, especially the lab. The lab goes over a large amount of basic signal processing techniques. It will bring the equations and transformation to live. You can see what the massive equations taught in class is for. And it feels really good when you implement the method or equation into practical solutions. One thing I need to address is that I took the ECE438 in Fall 2011, and we did not cover random variable and random process. I think these topic will be fun and very useful. I wish we can eliminate the first couple weeks we spend on reviewing 301 material and spend more time on image and random process. -- Yimin Xiao

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