Welcome to ECE 420

Course Description

The first seven weeks of the course will be structured labs based on fundamental digital signal processing (DSP) concepts from ECE 310. The next two weeks will be on the implementation and simulation of a fundamental DSP algorithm of a student's choosing from a set of seminal DSP papers (such as adaptive filtering, pitch detection, edge-aware filtering, motion tracking, pattern recognition, etc). The remaining six weeks in the course will revolve around the development, testing, and documentation of a DSP project of the student's choice (subject to instructor approval).

Course Goals

Students will learn to prototype, implement, and analyze real-time DSP systems. Students will both broaden and deepen their understanding of basic DSP theory and techniques and learn to relate this understanding to real-world observations and applications. Students will learn industrially-relevant skills such as rapid design prototyping in Python, and Android development of DSP applications for computationally-constrained mobile devices. Other significant educational experiences include open-ended design, oral, and written communication, and team projects.

Course Schedule

Lectures are once a week on Monday from 2:00-2:50pm in 2013 ECEB.

Week of Lecture Topic Lab Due (in lab)
08/29 Overview of DSP Systems Lab 0 - Introduction None
09/04 No lecture - Labor Day Lab 1 - IMU Pedometer None
09/11 Audio Processing Lab 2 - Real-time Audio Filtering Prelab 2, Demo and Quiz 1
09/18 Short-time Spectral Analysis Lab 3 - Spectrogram Prelab 3, Demo and Quiz 2
09/25 Correlation Analysis Lab 4 - Pitch Detection Prelab 4, Demo and Quiz 3
10/02 Pitch Modification Lab 5 - Autotune Prelab 5, Demo and Quiz 4
10/09 Adaptive Filter. LMS Algorithm Lab 6 - Image Processing Prelab 6, Demo and Quiz 5
10/16 Kalman Filter Lab 7 - Video Processing Prelab 7, Demo and Quiz 6
10/23 Guest Lecture by Paris Smaragdis Assigned Project Lab Demo and Quiz 7, Final Project Proposal due by Friday at 11:59pm
10/30 Guest Lecture by Nirupam Roy Assigned Project Lab Assigned Project Demo
11/06 Guest Lecture by SyNRG Design Review Revised Project Proposal due by end of week
11/13 Guest Lecture by Chris Alex Final Project Milestone 1
11/20 Thanksgiving Break Final Project (Milestone 2)
11/27 Guest Lecture by Chris Alex Final Project Milestone 3
12/04 Guest Lecture by Mercedes Mane Final Project Final Demo
12/11 Review. In-class Quiz Final Project Presentations Final Project Report due by Wednesday, Dec 20th at 11:59pm, Final Video due by Monday, Dec 18th


Labs are held in Room 5072 ECEB.

  • Section AB1 meets Tuesday, 2:30-4:20 PM.
  • Section AB2 meets Wednesday, 2:00-3:50 PM.
  • Section AB3 meets Wednesday, 9:00-10:50 AM.
  • Section AB4 meets Friday, 3:00-4:50 PM.
  • Section AB5 meets Monday, please come to the other sections above!

Working code is due the same day as the quiz.

The lab is available at all times except University holiday weekends and ECE 420 class times.

Students are expected to be in the lab for their two-hour assigned lab period. In addition, students can access the lab at any time (subject to departmental rules for normal lab privileges) using their I-card. It is expected that students will require additional lab time to complete their assignments. ECE 420 students having difficulty with their I-card access should notify one of the teaching assistants.

Basic rules of courtesy and professional behavior are expected in the lab. Please do not remove any lab equipment, books, or manuals from the lab at any time. If you would like to listen to music as you work, please use headphones.


Grades can be found on Compass 2g.

Brief Grading Breakdown

  • Structured Labs - 40%
    • 4 points for the prelab and quiz
    • 4 points for the demo
  • Assigned Project Lab - 10%
    • 5% for the project proposal
    • 5% for the demo
  • Final Project - 45%
    • 10% for the revised project proposal and design review
    • 15% for the completion of three milestones
    • 10% for the final demo
    • 10% for the final report
  • Final Lecture Quiz - 5%

Detailed Grading Breakdown

The structured laboratory segment will count for 40% of the total grade, based on completion of, and oral examination over, the weekly laboratory assignments, including the underlying theory, details of the implementation and code, and the observed behavior of the system.

Each lab is worth 8 points, usually with 4 point for prelab and written quiz, and the remaining 4 points for demo and oral quiz. We emphasize that your grade is based heavily on your understanding and demonstration of the course material, not just on submitting working code.

The assigned project lab (based on the student's chosen DSP paper) will account for 10% of the total grade.

The final project will count for 45% of the total grade, with 10% on the project proposal and the design review, 15% for demonstrations and quizzes of 3 project milestones, 10% for the final demo and oral presentations, and 10% on the final report.

The final 5% of the total course grade comes from a written quiz over the lecture material.

It is expected that each student will attend and participate in scheduled class and laboratory meetings, or will make prior alternate arrangements with the instructor. The final grade may be penalized if this does not occur.

All assignments other than the lecture quiz, final project proposal, and final project report are due during the scheduled laboratory meeting. A late penalty of 50% will be assessed for assignments less than a week late; assignments more than a week late will receive no credit. However, all graded assignments must be submitted to receive a passing grade in the course.

Project Details

Refer to the Assigned Project Lab and Final Project pages.

Academic Integrity Policy

Printed and online sources are allowed with proper citation. Please direct your question to Google or the course staff before you ask your classmates. Given the range of the material for this course, we encourage you to refer to any online source, but do not directly copy and paste.

We do not allow inter-group cooperation for the final project. If there is a sign of cooperation between groups, those groups will be treated as a big group, and the grade will be divided accordingly.

More information: Student Code.

Office Hours / Course Administrivia

  • Prof. Jont Allen: TBD
  • TA Dongbo Wang: Monday, 3:00 - 4:00 PM & Tuesday, 1:30 - 2:30 PM, 5072 ECEB
  • TA Amr Martini: Wednesday, 11:00 - 12:00 AM & Friday, 11:00 - 12:00 AM, 5072 ECEB

If you have questions, post them on Piazza.

Instructor Contact Information

  • Prof. Jont Allen: jontalle@illinois.edu
  • TA Dongbo Wang: dwang49@illinois.edu
  • TA Amr Martini: ammartn3@illinois.edu