A year of math

I wrapped up my year-long course sequence in communications system theory at NCSU. Previously all of my graduate level courses have been in circuit design, and while there has been some math, it was all very manageable. This year, however, in order to build a solid foundation for my studies in RF and wireless communications, I decided to take communications system theory, and its prerequisite, random variables and random processes. What a year it has been!

The Pros:

I definitely feel like I have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of communications systems, and I hope it will serve me well in future courses. I think I am in a good place for course in the fall on the topic of wireless communications systems, and I think I will be ready for advanced subjects like MIMO signal processing. I have no doubt the random variables and processes background will help with any technical subject where one must model randomness, and I have even been able to apply some of it to some projects at work. I also picked up some much needed Matlab skills this year too, and I feel very comfortable with Matlab simulation and analysis.

The Cons:

In the 10+ years since I finished my undergraduate degree, I had not realized how many math skills I had lost. The course material all made sense this year, but the homework problems were intense and painful at times. I am sure that if I was fresh off of a three-sequence course in Calculus and a linear algebra course that I would have been in better shape. In addition to a table of derivatives/integrals, a table of trigonometric identities, and a table of Euler’s identities ought to be in any electrical engineering graduate student’s immediate reach. On the modeling side, I did not gain any skills with Simulink, which is unfortunate as I had hoped we could have utilized it as a learning tool in the communications theory class. I suppose it will be something that I will need to pick up on my own, perhaps over the summer.

Summary:

It has been a rough academic year, but probably a necessary year, and I hope that I will be better prepared for future graduate work. This summer I need to make some decisions about the future (Ph.D. studies?)…