Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Objectives and Outcomes

6.011 objectives and outcomes (PDF)


The essential prerequisites (not co-requisites) for this course are mastery of 6.003 and 6.041 (or equivalents), and of the 18.03 material related to solving linear, time-invariant systems of first-order differential equations using eigenvalues and eigenvectors. You should certainly not plan on taking 6.011 if you got less than a C in 6.003 or 6.041. If you did get a C (and maybe even if you got a higher grade than that), some further remedial work in the corresponding subject is important, starting immediately. If you are unsteady with 6.003, 6.041, or the relevant 18.03 material, you can be sure that 6.011 will expose that fact, sooner or later.

The lectures, recitations, and homework in 6.011 will expand on signals, systems and probabilistic models, building from 6.003 and 6.041. We will also explore prototype problems and applications from communication, control and signal processing that involve discrete and/or continuous time (DT, CT). The ideas, approaches and methods you learn here will significantly expand the range of engineering applications that you will be able to understand and work with at some level.

What will be new relative to 6.003 and 6.041? The list includes most of the following (we won't necessarily hit them all this term): new kinds of signals (e.g., random processes); new signal properties (e.g., energy/power spectral densities, correlations); new kinds of systems (e.g., for CT communication of DT signals); new system descriptions (e.g., state-space models for causal systems); new system properties (e.g., group delay, reachability/observability); new signal processing tasks (e.g., multirate processing, optimal estimation); new communication tasks (e.g., optimal detection); new control tasks (e.g., state estimation, observer-based controller design); and more intimate mixing of DT and CT in several applications.

These topics do not fall in a linear path directed out from 6.003/6.041. Rather, we will be expanding out in a spiral, sampling the many routes that lead out from 6.003/6.041, coming back to some of them one or two times. At the end you may be surprised to find how much territory you have covered without moving all that far away from the basics in 6.003 and 6.041.

Course Grade

Your final grade in the course will be based on our best assessment of your understanding of the material and your engagement with the course. The relative weighting given to the components of the course in arriving at a preliminary grade (used as the starting point in our grades meeting) are listed below.

Homework 10% 0%
Participation 5% 0%
Quiz 1 25% 30%
Quiz 2 25% 30%
Final exam 35% 40%


The process of going from a preliminary grade to a final grade involves considerable discussion among the staff, and (especially if you're on a borderline) could include a careful review of the final exam to see what kinds of mistakes were made. Our aim in all this is to gauge your understanding of the material at the end of the term.


There will be two evening quizzes. Each quiz will be designed as a one-hour test, but you will have two hours to do it. A three-hour final exam will also be held during final exam week. The quizzes and exams will all be closed-book, but you will be allowed a specified number of sheets of notes for each of them.


Your solutions for each problem set will be given a score of:

0, if there is little evidence of any original thought or work–e.g., if a solution is quite clearly lifted from solutions distributed in an earlier term;

1, for some attempt, but with significant gaps;

2, for good effort, but with some deficiencies in understanding;

3, for a solid effort, demonstrating good understanding.

It should be evident from our grading policy that we do not intend the homeworks as tests, but as vehicles for learning. Therefore, we will not hesitate to use problems from previous terms. Relying on "bibles" to get you through the homeworks — rather than on your own thinking and understanding — will undoubtedly cause you difficulties on the tests. You may expect that every test will include some problems of the same flavor and difficulty as those encountered on the homework, but sufficiently modified to test your thinking and understanding, rather than your ability to "pattern match". The exams will also include problems that test your ability to integrate and reason with the course material.