uniquely, and unambiguously related to the branch currents? No. We

take all this for granted, and we also take for granted that the student

will straighten this "obviously simple" matter out for himself. He

doesn't realize it at the time, but right here he stores up a lot of trouble

for himself that does not show until much later in his career when he

meets a slightly unorthodox situation and suddenly discovers that he

can't even get started on it.

A similar and even more confusing situation exists when we attempt to

choose a set of voltages as variables as in node analysis. This topic, even

the instructor admits, never gets across. Needless to say, I don't think

we are being very fundamental about these things. Of course, our usual

defense is to say that this is not a very important aspect of circuit theory

anyway; it's one of these advanced topics too highbrow for sophomores;

and, besides, no practical engineer ever uses it anyway. This last re-

mark is really one for the book. Of course he doesn't use it. How can

he, when he doesn't understand what it's all about and never had it

explained to him or was shown its possibilities? As for the topic being

too highbrow for sophomores, this is plain nonsense (to which my sopho-

mores will most vehemently attest).

So far as the practical potential of this item is concerned, let me

mention just one of a number of pertinent incidents that occurred re-

cently. A group of engineers concerned with the Bonneville power

development in the Pacific Northwest were having a conference here, and

one of them described a new approach to the analysis problem which is

particularly effective for such power-distribution networks and leads to

a systematized computational procedure that beats using the old network

analyzer all hollow. This "new" approach consists in picking an appro-

priate tree and identifying the link currents with loop currents, the tree

in this instance being the distribution system and the links being the

branches formed by the sources and loads. It seems that power en-

gineers also can benefit by a more fundamental approach to circuit


Another topic that is essential in getting closer and giving more em-

phasis to fundamentals is the use of scale factors and the process of

normalization. We tell the student at the outset that we are going to

restrict our discussion to linear circuits, but do we clearly impress upon

him the significance of this property or how we can capitalize on it?

Many of my graduate students, as well as many engineers in industry,

are not aware of the implications of this property and of its usefulness if

suitably exploited. In fact, the conventional procedure in teaching

circuit theory deliberately obscures this important aspect of the subject

through overemphasizing what is mistakenly regarded as a "practical"

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