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6, 611-613 (1992)

BOOK REVIEW

MODERN SIGNALS AND S Y S T E M S , Huibert Kwakernaak and Raphael Sivan, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1990, ISBN 0-13-809252-4,

v + 791 pp. plus Software Disk SIGSYS by Rens

C. W. Strijbos, 18.55 (softback).

OVERVIEW

Modern Signals and Systems is a new text aimed

at providing a concise and rigorous account of

the mathematical background needed for

undergraduate courses in signal processing,

control theory and telecommunications. In this

respect Kwakernaak and Sivan appear to have

met their objectives. It is a fresh and innovative

text ideal for teaching students who wish to

continue on and d o theoretical research. It

justifies its use of the word modern in the title

by exploiting the recent systems formalism of Jan

Willems. The text represents a considerable

challenge for the average electrical engineering

student, since many of the concepts tend to be

abstract and not easily absorbed. A lot of the

unique material in the text, particularly the

axiomatic manner of presentation, can be

classified as desirable but not necessary. The

book comes with professional quality PC

software SIGSYS written by Rens Strijbos.

The order of presentation of the material in the

text could create some difficulties, since notions

such as the Fourier and Laplace transforms are

introduced very late in the book. Specifically,

these transforms are dealt with after state space

ideas and only before the final three chapters

which treat applications (see the contents list

below). This may make the text difficult to

incorporate in a standard electrical engineering

curriculum, especially if the material from the

book is taught over two semesters and other

courses require these transforms after the first

semester. The text is more ideally suited to

students of applied mathematics or students

doing combined mathematics and engineering

courses and taking a course in signals and

systems.

are: 1 Overview of Signals and Systems; 2 An

Introduction t o Signals; 3 Introduction to

Systems; 4 Difference and Differential Systems; 5

State Description of Systems; 6 Expansion

Theory and Fourier Series; 7 Fourier Transforms;

8 The z- and Laplace Transforms; 9 Applications

to Signal Processing and Digital Filtering; 10

Applications to Communication; 1 1 Feedback

and Applications to Automatic Control; and

Supplements (appendices).

The text has a large number of well-chosen

problems at the end of each chapter. The general

impression is that because of the abstract bias of

the theory presented in the text, more worked

examples are needed to aid comprehension and

provide more motivation for the students.

Background experience

As a trial, the text was used in the

Interdisciplinary Engineering Program at the

Australian National University for a general

course on signals and systems held over two

semesters (an equivalent full-year course). It was

selected because of the great precision of its

treatment of signals and systems and since it

includes the highly desirable material of state

space methods. As is rather typical with

(electrical) engineering courses, this signals and

systems material tends to be taught after a first

course in circuit theory. By the end of this

prerequisite the students have been introduced to

some of the ideas of systems and frequency

response, at least as far as the notions of complex

frequency and calculating transfer functions

(without necessarily a full understanding).

Students have also had by this time courses in

differential equations and linear algebra. The

manner in which these prerequisites and

subsequent courses relate to the material in the

text is an important consideration in assessing the

suitability of the text. Here I shall highlight some

of the important features of the text (in no

particular order) which should aid in its

evaluation for a similar environment.

REVIEW

ContenI S

Technical aspects

and comprehensive summary of the text and this

authors achieve this by laying down a large

612

BOOK REVIEW

subsequent development and examples. This

approach, which is the basis of the books rigour,

leads to a strong hierarchy of definitions which

tend to be abstract but makes the book cohesive.

The material presented in the text is rather

concise, which can make the book cryptic at

times. For example, in the third chapter on p. 71

we are introduced to the following notion.

Consider an Input-Output Mapping (IOM)

system with time axis T and rule W c a x 9.

Let ( u l , y l ) be any I 0 pair and f c U an

arbitrary time, and suppose that (UZ,y z ) is any

other input-output pair such that UI(T)= &(7)

for all T t with T T. Then the system is nonanticipating if y~ (7)= y 2 ( 7 ) for all T < f such

that T E D .

<

what an input-output mapping system means.

At the risk of oversimplifying, it is a system that

maps elements from an input set ~9/to elements

of an output set W in a one-to-one fashion. (In

general, such a system definition does not require

a notion of time, referred to as a time axis,

but clearly to define non-anticipation one is

required.) Of course, the above serves to define

IOM systems whose outputs cannot depend on

future inputs. For an introductory text where

concepts are to be met for the first time, this type

of formal definition seems quite inappropriate, at

least for engineering students and probably for

the average engineer.

The precise definition of an IOM system

provides an elegant means to incorporate initial

conditions, since for a given input a system can

have different outputs (because of the different

initial conditions). A more general system

definition presented in the text, called an

input-output system, is defined by three sets: (i)

the input set, (ii) the output set and (iii) a subset

of the Cartesian product of the input and output

sets. There is no question that the better students

would understand this and perhaps comprehend

why this axiomatic approach has advantages (i.e.

generality, precision and conciseness). However,

an inordinate amount of effort would be needed

to motivate such ideas to the average engineering

student.

Ignoring the potential difficulties of teaching

the material, the use of norms (and normed

spaces) is a welcome feature of the book. This is

useful because it introduces students to the idea

that the way we measure signals and systems

(using, say, an induced norm) is rather arbitrary

and provides a more balanced presentation than

norms (energy). That these ideas are introduced

in the second chapter is an indication of the

strong mathematical slant of the text.

Typical of the text is its thoroughness in

dealing with technical matters. An example is its

treatment of stability of systems and in particular

of convolution systems. Both bounded

input-bounded output (BIBO) and converging

input-converging output (CICO) stability are

developed and discussed. The latter definition,

which is not standard, is a stronger notion than

BIBO stability and additionally requires that two

outputs of a n 1 0 system tend towards each other

if their corresponding inputs d o likewise. The fine

line between BIBO and CICO stability and the

importance of initial conditions when concluding

stability given locations of poles and zeros, their

cancellations and multiplicities is well developed.

The treatment of state space methods is

another positive feature of the book. An

input-output state (10s) system is defined by

augmenting the definition of an input-output

system (whose definition was sketched above)

with state signals belonging to a set. A subset of

the triple of the input set, the output set and the

new state set serves to define the 10s system.

Those familiar with the standard state space

approach will recognize the clever cloaking of the

concept, but it is difficult t o see how students are

better off with the abstract (and admittedly

general) definition rather than a more concrete

approach which usually first considers linear

systems. With 10s systems the stability flavours

expand to include BIBS and CIBS stability where

the final letter of the acronym stands for state

in lieu of the previous output.

Chapters 6-9 deal with what can be loosely

defined as frequency domain methods. This

includes treatment of general expansion theory,

the projection theorem, spectral expansions,

finite and infinite Fourier series expansions,

Fourier transforms and finally the z- and Laplace

transforms. The approach taken is completely

consistent with earlier chapters. First a general

framework is given, and only after the general

picture is completed are specific cases considered.

This reinforces the mathematical concerns of the

authors more so than the engineering aspects.

The latter typically provide greater motivation

and more examples earlier to encourage

(engineering) students to invest time in

understanding the concepts.

For example, Fourier transforms are arrived at

firstly by regarding transforms as bijective

mappings of a signal space to itself. A special

case of this is the so-called expansion transform

613

BOOK REVIEW

representation of the signal in terms of basis

elements (for the linear space). For a system its

eigensignals are a natural choice for the basis

functions and this leads to the so-called spectral

transforms. Finally, the choice of complex

exponentials as eigenfunctions for linear systems

leads t o the various Fourier transforms (both

continuous and discrete). Contrary to the

approach adopted in the text, there are strong

arguments in the interest of pedagogics to reverse

the development of concepts to move from

specific to general.

The treatment of z- and Laplace transforms is

very good, albeit very late. The concepts are

developed with great clarity. The consideration of

inverse transforms forms one of the clearest

presentations amongst texts which do not resort

heavily to complex analysis tools. This material,

as indeed is the whole text, is fine reference

material for a highly structured rigorous account

of the theory.

If the chapters on applications dealing with

signal

processing

and

digital

filtering,

communications and feedback and automatic

control were stuck in a blender and incorporated

into the earlier chapters, then many of the

difficulties regarding motivating students to learn

the abstract formalism should vanish. There is a

certain logic in treating these themes separately

because it reduces the notational burden and

removes potential redundancy. However, the cost

is to leave this material until too late. Another

side effect is that the chapters tend to step on the

toes of following courses in the usage of

(potentially non-standard) terminology and

notation.

The text contains supplementary material in

the form of appendices and a tutorial on the

substantial piece of PC software called SIGSYS

on a floppy disk). This software was not

evaluated nor used in the course given at ANU,

a decision which was unrelated to its quality.

SYNOPSIS

My opinion is that any student who masters this

text is well placed to understand what the text

purports to teach, i.e. modern signals and

systems - at least modern in the sense of

developments which have been taking place in. the

late 1980s and early 1990s. If it were possible to

identify future research engineers (and mathematicians working in the engineering field) at

such an early stage of their development, then the

book superbly fits the bill for their undergraduate

education. This forte of the text tends to come at

the expense of the average students who are

encouraged to learn concepts strictly not needed

nor crucial for their early engineering education.

On the other hand, anything less than what

Kwakernaak and Sivan have produced would

compromise their primary objective, which is to

create a text which emphasizes the modern trend

towards more concise, rigorous mathematical

expression in engineering education. At the least

the book should be on the reading list of every

course on signals and systems, and in those cases

where the curriculum allows it should be

considered a strong candidate for the main text.

R. A. KENNEDY

Department of Systems Engineering

RS Phys SE and the Interdisciplinary Engineering

Program

Faculty of Science

Australian National University

GPO Box 4, Canberra ACT 2601

Australia

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