ECE 481: Ethics in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Autumn 2008

R 12:30PM–1:18PM, 113 Dreese Laboratory

  See instructor’s course web page for instructor and course information.  

Grader: Ted Pavlic, 351 Caldwell Laboratory,
Office Hours: E-mail me for an appointment.

To make sure I get your e-mail, begin the subject with ECE481: or at least put 481 somewhere in the subject. An automatic filter will make sure your mail gets to me ASAP (rather than being marked as spam).



I e-mailed each student’s OSU e-mail address a secret number that can be used to lookup grades for this class. If you have lost your secret number, e-mail me so that I can resend the ID to you. If you believe there is a mistake in the gradebook, notify me ASAP.

Attendance Quiz Results

See the attendance quiz archive for results from prior quarters.

Assignment Questions and Clarifications

Writing Resources

Help Getting Started Using TeX/LaTeX

For myriad reasons, professional technical documents are rarely produced with popular programs like Microsoft Word. In areas that are highly influenced by mathematics (e.g., engineering), the free TeX typesetting system dominates. Many TeX (pronounced "tech") users prefer the LaTeX suite of macros to simplify common typesetting tasks.

TeX documents, like the source code for computer programs, start as text files that are later "compiled" into their final document form. A typical TeX workflow is

  1. Edit document source code in a standard or specialized text editor. For example, a text file called "mydocument.tex" could contain the LaTeX code:
    \textbf{Hello world!}
  2. "Compile" source code to produce printable document. The "mydocument.tex" file would produce a "mydocument.pdf" that would contain the bold text:
    Hello world!
    A good editor will typically provide a quick way (e.g., a "LaTeX" button on the graphical user interface) to compile your code.

    If you want to compile your code manually, you can use PDFLaTeX with the command
    pdflatex mydocument.tex
    or you can use LaTeX with the commands
    latex mydocument.tex
    dvips mydocument.dvi
    The difference between these two methods has an impact on what type of figures you can include (i.e., EPS files versus PDF, GIF, JPG, or PNG files). See below for details.

  3. View printable document and repeat process to make changes (e.g., you could change the \textbf{Hello world!} line to be simply Hello world! to get rid of the bold).

Thus, many people feel that TeX typesetting is more like programming than it is like using standard word processing tools. So it’s not surprising that you’ll need a "compiler", editor, and viewer (note: the ECE computer labs are already equipped with everything you need to get started).

  1. If you want to submit assignments using TeX, you will need one of the free TeX distributions. These distributions contain TeX and the popular LaTeX macros.
    • Windows users should get MiKTeX. Click on the link under Download.
      • Alternatively, Windows users can try TeX Live. For the moment, I recommend that new users stick with MiKTeX.
    • Mac OS X users should get MacTeX. Download the MacTeX Installer.
    • Unix users should get TeX Live. Follow the quick installation directions.
    These distributions contain programs that can "compile" TeX source files into a nice-looking printable form.

  2. Once you have installed a TeX distribution, you will need an editor. Any text editor can be used to edit TeX files, but some are more friendly than others.
    • TeXmaker is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
    • WinShell is the free LaTeX editor used in the ECE computer labs.
    • TeXnicCenter is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • WinEdt is a popular commercial shareware LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • The combination of Vim with the VIM-LaTeX suite makes for a powerful LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
    • TeXShop is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and PDF previewer (with auto-refresh) for Mac OS X.
    • TeXworks is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and auto-refreshing PDF previewer (based on TeXShop) that is still in development for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix. It is available for download. It is based on Qt and Poppler.
    • Kile is a popular free LaTeX editor for KDE (i.e., for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix).
    • iTeXMac is a popular free TeX editor and PDF previewer for Mac OS X.

  3. You will probably also want a good PDF viewer. Some of the editors above include decent PDF previewers, but others depend on you to find one.
    • Members of the Adobe Acrobat family (including the free reader) are sufficient so long as your editor knows how to kick them whenever your PDF is regenerated. Unfortunately, they are big and bloated and have a stagnant feature set.
    • Mac users should check out the free Skim, which supports auto-refreshing and lots of other helpful features.
    • Windows users might want to check out the free Sumatra PDF, which is a minimal PDF viewer that supports auto-refreshing and has some other nice features.

  4. You may want some examples to get you started. It might be helpful to see my old homework template page too.

  5. You will often want to include figures in your documents. To make this process easier, make sure you have these two lines in your LaTeX preamble:
    Then, in the main part of your document, you can choose whether to include your graphics as "floats" or not. Most figures in books are "floats." That is, they do not appear exactly where they are mentioned in the text. Instead, they "float" to a convenient place (e.g., the top of the next page). In lab reports, people sometimes prefer that their graphics do not float.

    To include a graphic as a float, use lines like
            \caption{A nice caption for my figure.}
    Alternatively, if you want the figure to be typeset EXACTLY where you place it within your source code, use lines like
            \captionof{figure}{A nice caption for my figure.}
    That is, replace the figure environment with a center environment and replace the \caption line with a \captionof{figure} line.

    A similar procedure exists for tables (i.e., tables can be included as floats as well).

    In the \includegraphics lines above, a "width" parameter is set to half of the column width (i.e., 0.5\columnwidth). You can change this to an absolute dimension as well (e.g., [width=3in] for a three inch width). You can even use height instead (e.g., [height=3in] for three inch height). In either case, the image is scaled so it maintains the correct height:width ratio.

    In the example above, a PNG file was included.
    • If you want to include PNG, GIF, JPG, or PDF files, you must use PDFLaTeX.
    • If you want to include EPS files, you must use LaTeX.
    So when you export files from MATLAB, make sure you choose an appropriate file format.

  6. Additional LaTeX examples (e.g., LaTeX code for electronic circuits, graphs, and block diagrams) can be found in my Mercurial repositories for
    • ECE 209 (not too much here),
    • ECE 327 (a circuits lab with lots of documents with lots of circuit diagrams),
    • ECE 481 (not too much here),
    • ECE 557 (a controls lab with lots of LaTeX and MATLAB generated figures).
    Click on the files links and navigate the tree.

  7. Some other terrific examples can be found on the web.
    • PSTricks lets you harness the power of PostScript to draw great looking line drawings inside TeX.
    • PGF/TikZ has been growing in popularity as a more portable alternative to PSTricks.
    • The TeX Users Group (TUG) links to lots of helpful resources.
    • The Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) is a huge central store of useful TeX material.
    • The LaTeX Community forum can be a great resource that can quickly answer some of your questions.
    • The comp.text.tex (CTT) Usenet newsgroup has been a resource for TeX users for a long time. Search and participate.

Course Information

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