Frequently Asked Questions

  • Questions about Coursework
  • Questions about Computers/Matlab
  • (FAQs on individual labs are located on the Lab Assignment page where you download each lab.)

Coursework Questions

Computer/Matlab Questions

Q. What general sources are there for help?

The instructors and the TAs can help you with any question related to the course material. The FORUM tool in t-square can be used to post questions and look for answers so that students can help each other. The bulletin board is monitored by the instructors and a question is likely to be answered more quickly than an email.

The instructors and TAs are eager to help you with questions and problems which may come up during ECE 2025. The course is challenging, but there is a large amount of material available to help you out. Please do yourself a favor and make use of the resources provided. The following questions and answers may also be helpful. If you don’t find what you need here, the chances are that others have the same question, or perhaps even the answer, so please post it to the class bulletin board.

You may also visit with the TAs or instructors during office hours.

Or ask questions during your recitation or lab section.

There is a CD-ROM which contains many demos and extra information which may be helpful in understanding material:

Q. Is the SP-First CD-ROM available on-line?

Yes, the CD-ROM  is hosted at Rose-Hulman and Georgia Tech.

A login is required: (username = gt, password = student)

The on-line CD-ROM has more recent material which has been added since the publication of SP-First in 2003.

Q. Where can I find information to help me do the homework?

The best help for homework is probably:

  • the course CD-ROM which contains hundreds of solved problems; this site is regularly updated with recent problems.
  • a small archive of problems (with some solutions) from recent terms, found via a link on the main page of t-square
  • there is an archive of really old problems

Nearly all problems given to you will be similar to past problems; please use the archives for help.

You may also send mail to any of the instructors or post questions to the bulletin board.

Homework grading is done a by TA as shown on the staffing schedule.

Q. Are there solutions to the problems at the end of each chapter of the textbook?

No, there are no solutions available for the problems in the text. If you want to practice (a good idea) with problems that have available solutions, try the ones on the CD-ROM or the solution archives.  Read the last FAQ question for more details.

Q. Do the online quizzes record the last quiz taken or the highest quiz taken?

NOTE: on-line quizzes are not given every semester. The online quizzes record the last quiz taken, not the highest. If you really understand the material and can get it correct once, you should be able to get it correct every time!

Q. Where can I get help on the labs?

The Lab is held in room 2440 of the Klaus building.

Questions about Matlab may be directed to one of the TAs or Dr. McClellan.

Before asking general questions about the lab, please consult the INFO link on t-square for Lab Information. This information describes such things as proper account setup for ECE2025, lab expectations, grading policies, and more.

Please also feel free to post your question(s) to a t-square forum.

Online help information is available for Matlab by typing “help”, “doc”, “intro”, “helpdesk”, or “helpwin” at the Matlab prompt.

Q. What do I have to turn in for the lab report?

Your lab report should have a cover page and a write-up on the Lab section.  The Lab section is everything following the last instructor verification.  You do not need to hand in anything on the warm-up section except the verification sheet.   Read the Lab Report Requirements page for details.

Q. What do I put in the Lab section writeup?
You can look at the examples in the Lab Information section.  The write-up should include all plots that are asked for, any significant code, any explanations asked for, annotations on the plots and calculations written out when asked for. A simple way to know what to put in the write-up is to pretend that you are grading it.  Check each step to see if you have done what was asked and if you did it correctly.

Q. Are the labs in the text and on the CDROM the same as those posted on t-square?

No!  There are differences–follow the lab assignments posted in t-square.

Q. How can I prepare for quizzes?

There is an archive of quiz questions with some solutions at CDROM which is an enhancement of the CD that came with your text. It has all the quiz questions asked for the last several years, along with some solutions. Most questions on upcoming quizzes will be similar (they reflect what you should know…). The best preparation is to

  1. Make sure you understand the homework.
  2. Read the chapters to be covered.
  3. Work problems from previous quarters.

Good study habits make a very large difference in your grades.

Q. Who do I contact if I have a problem with an assignment, lab, or quiz?

If you have a problem with a graded assignment, lab, or quiz you need to contact the person who graded it.

The grading duties are as follows:


Recitation Instructors


Homework & Labs:

See the TA Grading assignments

Q. What is the policy on late assignments?

The policy for late labs is listed on the Lab Policy page.

Late homework assignments are NOT ACCEPTED. To make up for extenuating circumstances, your lowest homework score will be dropped when calculating grades.

Q. Do I really fail the course if I forget to turn in one lab?

Yes.  Read the lab policies for more details.

Q. Where do I get the labs?

Getting the Lab Assignments:  Labs will be posted each week in Assignments section. Note that there are also sample laboratory assignments at the back of the text book (Appendix C) as well as on the CD-ROM. Please note that the versions in the text/CD-ROM and those on the web site differ slightly.  The versions posted each week on the class webpage are the definitive versions and you will be responsible for doing these labs.

Q. Where is the computer lab?

The lab will be held in room 216 of Bunger-Henry during the scheduled time. At other times, if you wish, you can work in room 309 on the third floor of the College of Computing.

Q. Who do I contact about problems with my Windows account?

The best source is the FAQ maintained by the ECE Computer Support group: www.ece-help.gatech.edu
The instructors and TAs of ECE 2025 do not administrate the lab computers or the Windows accounts.  If you are having a difficult computer problem not covered by the FAQ, send mail to help@ece.gatech.edu.

Q. Can I access my file on the Z: drive remotely?

NO, the following procedure is not working as of 11-Jan-09.

This information comes from the ece-help page.

As of October 23, 2007, the procedure to access your “Z-Drive” remotely has changed: We are happy to announce the availability of a new, web-based, service that you can begin using with your AD login. You may browse to the following site to begin using this service:


You should enter your AD username at the login screen and then your AD password when prompted. Initially, we have made your ECE and PRISM folders available to you. Please understand that this service is still experimental and we are continuing to enhance and improve it. Please direct any questions or problems to help@ece.gatech.edu.

Q. How do I print PDF files to the Rich Building printers so I don’t use up all my print quota?

Save the PDF file locally then send the file to your acme account via FTP. If you are working on one of the lab computers I recommend using SFTP which is under Network Applications in the windows start menu.

Once you have the file over on acme, you can print the file using the following commands taken from the OIT – FAQ:

On acme the commands are:

~gtwreck/bin/acroread -toPostScript *.pdf
prnt -dest central-ps -type ps *.ps

NOTE: This is unsupported software. For more information on this program and other public domain software, at your ACME prompt, type:
more ~gtwreck/README

Q. How can I use Matlab from home?

A. This link explains how you can use Matlab from home.

Q. Can I run Matlab on my Linux system?

Yes.  If you’re in your dorm running linux, you can run matlab remotely off one of the yamsrv*.ece.gatech.edu servers, so you don’t have to purchase it or install it locally.  First make sure you have an active UNIX account by trying to login to one of the yamsrv[1234].ece.gatech.edu machines (try your ECE Windows login).  If you need to activate your account (all students are given UNIX accounts) send a message to help@ece.gatech.edu. Once your account has been activated, type the following at the command prompt on your *local* machine:

xhost +yamsrv1.ece.gatech.edu +yamsrv2.ece.gatech.edu +yamsrv3.ece.gatech.edu +yamsrv4.ece.gatech.edu

That is all one line; it authorizes those servers to pop up windows on your X server. Now, log onto the YAMSRV* server (using telnet or SSH) and type:

matlab -display 128.61.xxx.xxx:0.0

where 128.61.xxx.xxx is YOUR ip address at home. Matlab should display a nice graphic when it starts. If not, you did something wrong. The Matlab command window is text-based, but when you plot something it should pop up a figure window.

Executing the following command from the command prompt on the YAMSRV* server will create a script, so that when you type ‘ml’ from your home directory, matlab will be executed with the proper settings:

echo matlab -display 128.61.xxx.xxx:0.0 > ~/ml; chmod 755 ml;

Remember to replace the example IP with your own.  Now you are set to go.  If you have any problems, refer to your nearest linux hacker for help.

Q. How do I convert from polar to rectangular (and vice-versa) on my HP-48 calculator?

**** First make sure calculator is in RAD mode if you are working in radians****

Polar to Rectangular:
Put the calculator in polar mode: [->], [MTH]
Enter “r,” [ENTER]
Enter “theta,” [ENTER]  (make sure pi is a number, not a symbol.  [<-], [EVAL] will change the symbol into a number)
Put the two numbers into a vector:  [MTH], [White A], [White E]
Converts to rectangular: [->], [MTH]

NOTE: The first number in the vector is the real part, the second is the imaginary part

Rectangular to Polar:
Start in rectangular mode
Enter “real part” [ENTER]
Enter “imag part” [ENTER]
Put the two number into a vector: [MTH], [White A], [White E]
Convert to polar: [->], [MTH]

NOTE: First number is the radius, the second number is the angle.

Q: How do I continue a line in MATLAB file?

Type “…”.  For example:

xx=[2 3 5 6 7 8 9 2 4 6 3 …

2 4 6 8];will create a length 15 vector called xx.

Q. Why are some of the functions like zcat and zvect coming back with the message “Command not found”?

Matlab uses a search path to find M-files. When you enter the name zcat at the Matlab prompt, Matlab:

  1. Looks to see if zcat is defined as a variable.
  2. Looks to see if zcat is a built-in function (like plot or fft).
  3. Looks in the current directory for a file named zcat.m.
  4. Searches the directories on the search path for zcat.m.

The search path described in step 4 is an ordered list of directories. You can see what the current search path is by using the path command. For example,

>> path               MATLABPATH      Z:\myMatlabStuff\    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\general    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\ops    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\lang    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\elmat    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\elfun    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\specfun                 . . .                 . . .    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\datatypes    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\winfun    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\matlab\demos    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\wavelet\wavelet    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\wavelet\wavedemo    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\images\images    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\images\imdemos    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\signal\signal    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\signal\siggui    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\signal\sigdemos    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\tour    C:\MATLABR11\work    C:\MATLABR11\toolbox\localHere you see that the directory Z:\myMatlabStuff is searched first, followed by the directories for the various Matlab toolboxes installed. To add or remove a directory from the Matlab path, you can use the addpath and rmpath commands.

When you get an error like Command not found, it usually means that the directory containing the function is not in Matlab’s search path. In particular, if you get the error for functions like zcat and zvect which are part of the SPFirst Toolbox it means that the SPFirst Toolbox is not on the path. You will need to use the addpath command to add the directory containing the SPFirst Toolbox to your path. For example,

addpath c:\SomeDir\SomeOtherDir\SPFirst;
addpath(‘c:\Some Dir\Some Other Dir\SPFirst’);

The second form will be necessary if any of the directories have a space in their name.

You will probably want to automate this process so you do not have to type this command everytime you use Matlab and the SPFirst toolbox.  To do this you can put the command in your startup.m file or if you own a personal copy of Matlab you can use the Path Browser tool (see the question How can I use a startup.m file to run the same commands everytime I start Matlab? for more information about the startup.mfile and the Path Browser tool).

Q. How can I use a startup.m file to automatically run a set of commands everytime I start Matlab?

When you start Matlab, it looks for a file (see below) called startup.m and runs it. This is a useful place to put code that you want run everytime you start Matlab. For example, a startup.m file could contain the commands:

addpath c:\SomePath\MyMatlabStuff;
format long;
disp([‘Today”s date is: ‘ date]);

This adds the directory c:\SomePath\MyMatlabStuff to Matlab’s search path, changes the default display for numbers in the command window to long, and displays the current date.

UNIX Systems:

For UNIX systems, one should change to the directory containing the startup.m file before invoking Matlab. Then, when Matlab runs it will run the commands contained in the file.  Alternatively, you can place the startup.m file in a directory ~/matlab where ~ is your home directory.  In this case, the directory you are in when you start Matlab does not matter; the startup.m file will always be found correctly.

Windows Systems:

If you are using a personal copy of Matlab on your own machine:
You can change the Start in property of the shortcut which starts Matlab to point to the directory in which you saved your startup.m file (or create a new shortcut…see the instructions for public copies of Matlab below which describe how to do this). Alternatively, you can place the file in the directory <matlabroot>\toolbox\local. Then, the startup.m file will always be found.

Note: If you only intend to use the startup.m file to run the addpath command (e.g., to add the SPFirst Toolbox directory to the path), it would be easier to use the Path Browser tool. Open the Path Browser tool by clicking on the toolbar button that looks like a Windows Explorer folder tree or select the Set Path menu from Matlab’s File menu. After the Path Browser opens select Add to Path from the Path menu or use the Add to Path toolbar button to add a directory to your path. When you close the Path Browser, choose yes to use the path in future Matlab sessions.

If you are using a copy of Matlab in a public lab (such as an ECE Windows lab):
You will need to create a new shortcut to Matlab with the correct initial directory set.

  1. Find out where Matlab is installed by typing matlabroot in the Matlab command window. It should display something like C:\MATLABR12.
  2. Create a shortcut to Matlab by right-clicking on the Windows desktop and choosing New followed by Shortcut from the context menu.
  3. In the dialog box that opens, enter <matlabroot>\bin\matlab.exe where <matlabroot> is the result from step one. For example, C:\MATLABR12\bin\matlab.exe
  4. Select a shortcut name such as Matlab and click the Finish button. A new shortcut should show up on your desktop with the name you just gave it.
  5. Select the new shortcut with the mouse, right-click, and select Properties from the context menu to open the shortcut’s property window.
  6. Change the Start In property to point to the directory in which you have saved your startup.m file. For example, z:\myMatlabStuff.
  7. Click the Okay button to finish and save the property setting.

Note: Matlab may be installed in different locations in different labs on campus so you may need to do this once for each location. To distinguish the different shortcuts you could give them different names such as Matlab (CoC) and Matlab (Rich).