Department of Electrical Engineering - Columbia University

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ELEN E4896 - Spring 2016


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Course outline




Columbia Courseworks E4896


First lecture is tomorrow, Wednesday Jan 20th. Our classroom is 545 Mudd.
The calendar within the E4896 Courseworks page shows the slots available to sign up for presentation. Please email the course assistant, Zhuo Chen, to reserve a slot as soon as possible.

General Information

Instructor: Dan Ellis
<[email protected]>
Schapiro CEPSR room 718
Instructor office hours: Mondays 10:00-12:00
Course assistant: Zhuo Chen <[email protected]>
CA office hours: By appointment/TBA
Text: We won't have a single text,
but we will be using parts of:
DAFX cover DAFX: Digital Audio Effects (2nd ed.)
Edited by Udo Zölzer
(ISBN: 978-0470665992, John Wiley & Sons, 2011)
Lectures: Mondays and Wednesdays, 8:40-9:55
545 Mudd
Credits: 3
Course web site:


This course will survey applications of signal processing to music audio -- synthesis, effects, and analysis.

The emphasis will be on connecting the practical, intuitive effects of the techniques with the underlying signal processing principles and tools.

The class will be hands-on, with lots of practical implementations as well as presentations of current papers and our projects.

Grading structure

  • Classroom/practical participation (20%)
  • One in-class presentation (10%)
  • Three mini-projects (30%)
  • One final project (40%)

Some points to bear in mind:

  • Projects will involve programming audio effects using a software platform introduced in class: Matlab, Pd (C), or Python.
  • The "class participation" portion of the grade is meant to reward and encourage engagement, but not to unfairly penalize anyone. This semester, it will be mainly determined by your completion of the in-class practicals, as verified by checking off by the teaching staff. If you don't complete the practical in-class, you can finish it later and get it checked off by the CA before the next practical class.
  • If you miss a class or two, that's fine. If you know you're going to have to miss some classes because of another commitment, that's fine too, but please let us know. For the in-class practicals, we will drop your one lowest score (e.g., a missed practical) from the final grade calculation.
  • The "presentation" portion of the grade will require you to make some kind of pre-prepared presentation to the class at some point in the semester. But the grading here will be generous. Although effective communication is an essential part of an engineer's professional profile, we are not here to judge your slide-making ability, or your public speaking voice. As long as you make a sincere effort to communicate with the class, you'll do fine on this part of the grade.
  • The projects are probably the part of the class that will make the biggest difference to your grade. However, we will not be judging them so much on outcome as on process: how appropriately and skillfully you applied the technical concepts from class, the overall structure, etc. We recognize that research projects don't always work out as planned, and that computers don't always behave. If you have a good story about what you tried to do, and how and why you tried to do it, you'll be fine.
  • The class will not be ``curved'', meaning that an overabundance of super-performing students will not push down the grades of mere mortals. We will assign the final grades based on an absolute expectation of desired student performance. We hope that everyone will get an A!


  • Basic signals and systems
  • Basic programming


See the course outline.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Dan Ellis <[email protected]>
Last updated: Tue Jan 19 17:27:45 EST 2016