Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)
Undergraduate Affairs, Room 2705
Graduate Affairs, Room 2718
Jacobs Hall, Warren College
The Graduate Programs
Master of Science
The ECE department offers MS programs in electrical and computer engineering. The MS programs are research oriented and are intended to provide the intensive technical preparation necessary for advanced technical work in the engineering profession or subsequent pursuit of a PhD. The MS degree may be earned either with a thesis (Plan 1) or with a comprehensive examination (Plan 2). However, continuation in the PhD program requires a comprehensive examination so most students opt for Plan 2.
Course Requirements: The total course requirements for the master of science degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering are forty-eight units (twelve quarter courses),respectively, of which at least thirty-six units must be in graduate courses. Note that this is greater than the minimum requirements of the university. The department maintains a list of core courses for each disciplinary area from which the thirty-six graduate course units must be selected. The current list may be obtained from the department graduate office or the official website of the department. Students in interdisciplinary programs may select other core courses with the approval of their academic adviser. The course requirements must be completed within two years of full-time study. Students will be assigned a faculty adviser who will help select courses and approve their overall academic curriculum.
Scholarship Requirement: The forty-eight units of required course work must be taken for a letter grade (A-F), except for graduate research (e.g. ECE, 299) for which only S/U grades are allowed. Courses for which a D or F is received may not be counted. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 overall.
Thesis and Comprehensive Requirements: The department offers both MS Plan 1 (thesis) and MS Plan 2 (written comprehensive exam). Students in the MS program may elect either Plan 1 or Plan 2 any time. Students in the MS Plan 1 (thesis) must take twelve units of ECE 299 (Research) and must submit a thesis as described in the general requirements of the university. Students in the MS Plan 2 (written comprehensive exam) may count four units of ECE 299 (Research) toward the thirty-six graduate units required and must pass the departmental written comprehensive examination not later than the end of the fall quarter of their second year of study. Students who pass the written examination at the MS level will receive a terminal masters degree, if they do not already have one.
Transfer to the PhD Program: Students in the MS program wishing to be considered for admission to the PhD program should consult their academic adviser as soon as possible. Students must notify department of their intent to transfer by their fourth quarter of study. Transfer from the MS to the PhD program is possible provided that the student
- Satisfy all requirements for initial admission to the PhD program, including submission of GRE general test scores, and be approved for consideration for transfer to the PhD program by the ECE Graduate Admissions Committee.
- Identify a faculty member who agrees, in writing, to serve as that student’s academic and PhD research adviser.
- In consultation with the academic adviser, design and complete a program of course work that satisfies all course requirements and constraints for a PhD discipline appropriate to the student’s research. All students in the PhD program are required to satisfy all PhD degree requirements as described below. Should the student not be admitted to the PhD program, this program of course work will serve, with the approval of the academic adviser and the ECE Graduate Affairs Committee, to satisfy the course work requirements for the MS degree.
- Pass the preliminary (comprehensive) examination at the level required for continuation in the PhD program. A student failing to pass the comprehensive exam at this required level will not be admitted to the PhD program, and will instead continue in the MS degree program.
- Maintain a GPA of at least 3.4 in the appropriate core graduate courses.
A student who has fulfilled all of the above requirements should, after passing the departmental PhD preliminary (comprehensive) exam, submit a petition to change his or her degree objective from MS to PhD.
Master of Advanced Studies
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers the master of advanced studies (MAS) degree in Wireless Embedded Systems (WES). The degree requires thirty-six units of work, including a capstone team project. This program is for part-time students with an adequate background in engineering. All the requirements can be completed in two years, with one or two courses taken each quarter.
Final Project Capstone Requirement, No Thesis: In the MAS-WES program, an “alternative plan” requirement is satisfied by a four-unit capstone project requirement.
Required Courses: Students entering the MAS program in Electrical and Computer Engineering for a degree in Wireless Embedded Systems will undertake courses in the Wireless Embedded Systems program.
The program requires eight four-unit core courses totaling thirty-two units and one four-unit capstone team project course for a total of thirty-six units.
All courses must be completed with an average grade of B and no grade below B-. The courses required of all students are as follows:
- WES 267. Digital Signal Processing for Wireless Embedded Systems
- WES 265. Wireless Communications Circuits and Systems
- WES 237A. Introduction to Embedded Systems Design
- WES 237B. Software for Embedded Systems
- WES 237C. Hardware for Embedded Systems
- WES 207. Capstone Project: Wireless Embedded Systems
- WES 268A. Digital Communications Systems I
- WES 268B. Digital Communications Systems II
- WES 269. Wireless Embedded Systems
The Doctoral Programs
The ECE department offers graduate programs leading to the PhD degree in eleven disciplines within electrical and computer engineering, as described in detail below. The PhD is a research degree requiring completion of the PhD program course requirements, satisfactory performance on the comprehensive (PhD preliminary) examination and university Qualifying Examination, and submission and defense of a doctoral thesis (as described under the “Graduate Studies” section of this catalog). Students in the PhD program must pass the comprehensive exam (PhD preliminary) before the beginning of the winter quarter of the second year of graduate study. To ensure timely progress in their research, students are strongly encouraged to identify a faculty member willing to supervise their doctoral research by the end of their first year of study.
Students should begin defining and preparing for their thesis research as soon as they have passed the comprehensive exam (PhD preliminary). They should plan on taking the university Qualifying Examination about one year later. The university does not permit students to continue in graduate study for more than four years without passing this examination. At the Qualifying Examination the student will give an oral presentation on research accomplishments to date and the thesis proposal to a campuswide committee. The committee will decide if the work and proposal has adequate content and reasonable chance for success. They may require that the student modify the proposal and may require a further review.
The final PhD requirements are the submission of a dissertation and the dissertation defense (as described under the “Graduate Studies” section of this catalog).
Course Requirements: The total course requirements for the PhD degree in electrical engineering are essentially the same as the MS degree, and consist of forty-eight units (twelve quarter courses), of which at least thirty-six units must be in graduate courses. Note that this is greater than the minimum requirements of the university. The department maintains a list of core courses for each disciplinary area from which the thirty-six graduate course units must be selected. The current list may be obtained from the ECE department graduate office or the official website of the department. Students in the interdisciplinary programs may select other core courses with the approval of their academic adviser. The course requirements must be completed within two years of full-time study.
Students in the PhD programs may count no more than eight units of ECE 299 towards their course requirements.
Students who already hold an MS degree in electrical engineering must nevertheless satisfy the requirements for the core courses. However, graduate courses taken elsewhere can be substituted for specific courses with the approval of the academic adviser.
Scholarship Requirement: The forty-eight units of required courses must be taken for a letter grade (AF), except for ECE 299 (Research) for which only S/U grades are allowed. Courses for which a D or F is received may not be counted. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 overall. In addition, a GPA of 3.4 in the core graduate courses is generally expected.
Teaching practicum is required of all ECE PhD students prior to graduation. Teaching practicum is defined as service as a graduate student instructor in a course designated by the department. The total teaching requirement for new PhD students is one quarter at ten hours per week. Students must enroll in and successfully complete four units of ECE 501 (Teaching) concurrent with the practicum experience. Students must contact the Student Affairs Office to plan for completion of this requirement.
Comprehensive Exam (PhD Preliminary): PhD students must find a faculty member who will agree to supervise their thesis research. This should be done before the start of the second year of study. They should then devote at least half their time to research and must pass the PhD preliminary examination by the end of their second year of study. This is an oral exam in which the student presents his or her research to a committee of three ECE faculty members, and is examined orally for proficiency in his or her area of specialization. The outcome of the exam is based on the student’s research presentation, proficiency demonstrated in the student’s area of specialization and overall academic record and performance in the graduate program. Successful completion of the PhD Preliminary Examination will also satisfy the MS Plan 2 comprehensive exam requirement.
University Qualifying Exam: Students who have passed the comprehensive exam (PhD preliminary) should plan to take the university Qualifying Examination approximately a year after passing the comprehensive exam (PhD preliminary). The university does not permit students to continue in graduate study for more than four years without passing this examination. The university Qualifying Examination is an oral exam in which the student presents his or her thesis proposal to a university-wide committee. After passing this exam the student is “advanced to candidacy.”
Dissertation Defense: The final PhD requirements are the submission of a dissertation, and the dissertation defense (as described under the “Graduate Studies” section of this catalog). Students who are advanced to candidacy may register for any ECE course on an S/U basis.
Departmental Time Limits: Students who enter the PhD program with an MS degree from another institution are expected to complete their PhD requirements a year earlier than BS entrants. They must discuss their program with an academic adviser in their first quarter of residence. If their PhD program overlaps significantly with their earlier MS work, the time limits for the comprehensive and qualifying exams will also be reduced by one year. Specific time limits for the PhD program, assuming entry with a BS degree, are as follows:
- The Comprehensive Exam (PhD Preliminary) must be completed before the start of the winter quarter of the second year of full-time study.
- The University Qualifying Exam must be completed before the start of the fifth year of full-time study.
- Support Limit: Students may not receive financial support through the university for more than seven years of full-time study (six years with an MS degree).
- Registered Time Limit: Students may not register as graduate students for more than eight years of full-time study (seven years with an MS degree).
Half-Time Study: Time limits are extended by one quarter for every two quarters of approved half-time status. Students on half-time status may not take more than six units each quarter.
PhD Research Programs
- Applied Ocean Sciences: This program in applied science related to the oceans is interdepartmental with the Graduate Department of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE). It is administered by SIO. All aspects of man’s purposeful and unusual intervention into the sea are included.
- Applied Physics—Applied Optics and Photonics: These programs encompass a broad range of interdisciplinary activities involving optical science and engineering, optical and optoelectronic materials and device technology, communications, computer engineering, and photonic systems engineering. Specific topics of interest include ultrafast optical processes, nonlinear optics, quantum cryptography and communications, optical image science, multidimensional optoelectronic I/O devices, spatial light modulators and photodetectors, artificial dielectrics, multifunctional diffractive and micro-optics, volume and computer-generated holography, optoelectronic and micromechanical devices and packaging, wave modulators and detectors, semiconductor-based optoelectronics, injection lasers, and photodetectors. Current research projects are focused on applications such as optical interconnects in high-speed digital systems, optical multidimensional signal and image processing, ultrahigh-speed optical networks, 3-D optical memories and memory interfaces, 3-D imaging and displays, and biophotonic systems. Facilities available for research in these areas include electron-beam and optical lithography, material growth, microfabrication, assembly, and packaging facilities, cw and femtosecond pulse laser systems, detection systems, optical and electro-optic components and devices, and electronic and optical characterization and testing equipment.
- Communication Theory and Systems: Communications theory and systems concerns the transmission, processing, and storage of information. Topics covered by the group include wireless and wireline communications, spread-spectrum communication, multiuser communication, network protocols, error-correcting codes for transmission and magnetic recording, data compression, time-series analysis, and image and voice processing.
- Computer Engineering consists of balanced programs of studies in both hardware and software, the premise being that knowledge and skill in both areas are essential both for the modern-day computer engineer to make the proper unbiased tradeoffs in design, and for researchers to consider all paths towards the solution of research questions and problems. Toward these ends, the programs emphasize studies (course work) and competency (comprehensive examinations, and dissertations or projects) in the areas of VLSI and logic design, and reliable computer and communication systems. Specific research areas include computer systems, signal processing systems, multiprocessing and parallel and distributed computing, computer communications and networks, computer architecture, computer-aided design, fault-tolerance and reliability, and neurocomputing. The faculty is composed of interested members of the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and related areas. The specialization is administered by both departments; the requirements are similar in both departments, with students taking the comprehensive exam, if necessary, given by the student’s respective department.
- Electronic Circuits and Systems: This program involves the study and design of analog, mixed-signal (combined analog and digital), and digital electronic circuits and systems. Emphasis is on the development, analysis, and implementation of integrated circuits that perform analog and digital signal processing for applications such as wireless and wireline communication systems, test and measurement systems, and interfaces between computers and sensors. Particular areas of study currently include radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers, RF low noise amplifiers, RF mixers, fractional-N phase-locked loops (PLLs) for modulated and continuous-wave frequency synthesis, pipelined analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), delta-sigma ADCs and digital-to-analog converters (DACs), PLLs for clock recovery, adaptive and fixed continuous-time, switched-capacitor, and digital filters, echo cancellation circuits, adaptive equalization circuits, wireless receiver and transmitter linearization circuits, mixed-signal baseband processing circuits for wireless transmitters and receivers, high-speed digital circuits, and high-speed clock distribution circuits.
- Applied Physics—Electronic Devices and Materials: This program addresses the synthesis and characterization of advanced electronic materials, including semiconductors, metals, and dielectrics, and their application in novel electronic, optoelectronic, and photonic devices. Emphasis is placed on exploration of techniques for high-quality epitaxial growth of semiconductors, including both molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD); fabrication and characterization of materials and devices at the nanoscale; development of novel materials processing and integration techniques; and high-performance electronic devices based on both Group IV (Si/SiGe) and III-V compound semiconductor materials. Areas of current interest include novel materials and high-speed devices for wireless communications; electronic and optoelectronic devices for high-speed optical networks; high-power microwave-frequency devices; nanoscale CMOS devices and circuits; heterogeneous materials integration; novel device structures for biological and chemical sensing; advanced tools for nanoscale characterization and metrology; and novel nanoscale electronic, optoelectronic, and photonic devices. Extensive facilities are available for research in this area, including several MBE and MOCVD systems; a complete microfabrication facility; electron-beam lithography and associated process tools for nanoscale fabrication; a Rutherford backscattering system; x-ray diffractometers; electron microscopy facilities; extensive scanning-probe instrumentation; cryogenic systems; and comprehensive facilities for DC to RF electrical device characterization and optical characterization of materials and devices.
Intelligent Systems, Robotics, and Control: This information sciences-based field is concerned with the design of human-interactive intelligent systems that can sense the world (defined as some specified domain of interest); represent or model the world; detect and identify states and events in the world; reason about and make decisions about the world; and/or act on the world, perhaps all in real-time. A sense of the type of systems and applications encountered in this discipline can be obtained by viewing the projects shown at the website http://www.ece.ucsd.edu/isrc.
The development of such sophisticated systems is necessarily an interdisciplinary activity. To sense and succinctly represent events in the world requires knowledge of signal processing, computer vision, information theory, coding theory, and databasing; to detect and reason about states of the world utilizes concepts from statistical detection theory, hypothesis testing, pattern recognition, time series analysis, and artificial intelligence; to make good decisions about highly complex systems requires knowledge of traditional mathematical optimization theory and contemporary near-optimal approaches such as evolutionary computation; and to act upon the world requires familiarity with concepts of control theory and robotics. Very often learning and adaptation are required as either critical aspects of the world are poorly known at the outset, and must be refined online, or the world is non-stationary and our system must constantly adapt to it as it evolves. In addition to the theoretical information and computer science aspects, many important hardware and software issues must be addressed in order to obtain an effective fusion of a complicated suite of sensors, computers, and problem dynamics into one integrated system.Faculty affiliated with the ISRC subarea are involved in virtually all aspects of the field, including applications to intelligent communications systems; advanced human-computer interfacing; statistical signal- and image-processing; intelligent tracking and guidance systems; biomedical system identification and control; and control of teleoperated and autonomous multiagent robotic systems.
Magnetic Recording is an interdisciplinary field involving physics, material science, communications, and mechanical engineering. The physics of magnetic recording involves studying magnetic heads, recording media, and the process of transferring information between the heads and the medium. General areas of investigation include: nonlinear behavior of magnetic heads, very high frequency loss mechanisms in head materials, characterization of recording media by micromagnetic and many body interaction analysis, response of the medium to the application of spatially varying vectorial head fields, fundamental analysis of medium nonuniformities leading to media noise, and experimental studies of the channel transfer function emphasizing nonlinearities, interferences, and noise. Current projects include numerical simulations of high density digital recording in metallic thin films, micromagnetic analysis of magnetic reversal in individual magnetic particles, theory of recorded transition phase noise and magnetization induced nonlinear bit shift in thin metallic films, and analysis of the thermal-temporal stability of interacting fine particles.Research laboratories are housed in the Center for Magnetic Recording Research, a national center devoted to multidisciplinary teaching and research in the field.
Applied Physics—Radio and Space Science: The Radio Science Program focuses on the study of radio waves propagating through turbulent media. The primary objectives are probing of otherwise inaccessible media such as the solar wind and interstellar plasma. Techniques for removing the effects of the turbulent medium to restore the intrinsic signals are also studied.
The Space Science Program is concerned with the nature of the sun, its ionized and supersonic outer atmosphere (the solar wind), and the interaction of the solar wind with various bodies in the solar system. Theoretical studies include: the interaction of the solar wind with the earth, planets, and comets; cosmic dusty-plasmas; waves in the ionosphere; and the physics of shocks. A major theoretical effort involves the use of supercomputers for modeling and simulation studies of both fluid and kinetic processes in space plasmas.Students in radio science will take measurements at various radio observatories in the U.S. and elsewhere. This work involves a great deal of digital signal processing and statistical analysis. All students will need to become familiar with electromagnetic theory, plasma physics, and numerical analysis.
- Signal and Image Processing: This program explores engineering issues related to the modeling of signals starting from the physics of the problem, developing and evaluating algorithms for extracting the necessary information from the signal, and the implementation of these algorithms on electronic and opto-electronic systems. Examples of research areas include filter design, fast transforms, adaptive filters, spectrum estimation and modeling, sensor array processing, image processing, image restoration, video processing, pattern recognition, and the implementation of signal processing algorithms using appropriate technologies. Signal and image processing techniques have found application in a number of areas such as sonar, radar, speech, geophysics, medical imaging, robotic vision, digital communications, and multimedia systems among others.
- Nanoscale Devices and Systems: This program area will address the science and engineering of materials and device structures at length scales of ~100nm and below, at which phenomena such as quantum confinement and single-electron effects in electronics, near-field behavior in optics and electromagnetics, single-domain effects in magnetics, and a host of other effects in mechanical, fluidic, and biological systems emerge and become dominant. Engineering activities such as scaling of transistors and other circuit elements in microelectronics, design of new, artificial materials with engineered optical properties and of photonic components and systems based on these materials, engineering of high-density magnetic storage media and systems, development of new technologies for renewable energy conversion and storage, advancement of sensor technology, and others now depend upon engineering both solid-state and “soft” materials and device structures at the nanoscale. Furthermore, the integration of such technologies into complex systems, as well as consideration of system drivers and constraints as guides for the development of new materials and devices, is emerging as a critical aspect of nanotechnology.
Most of the research laboratories of the department are associated with individual faculty members or small informal groups of faculty. Larger instruments and facilities, such as those for electron microscopy and e-beam lithography are operated jointly. In addition the department operates several research centers and participates in various university-wide organized research units.
The department-operated research centers are the Center for Wireless Communications which is a university-industry partnership; the Institute for Neural Computation, and the Center for Information Theory and Application in conjunction with Calit2.
Department research is also associated with the Center for Astronomy and Space Science, the Center for Magnetic Recording Research, the California Space Institute, the Institute for Nonlinear Science, and Calit2 (http://www.calit2.net). Departmental researchers also use various national and international laboratories, such as the National Nanofabrication Facility, the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory, and the Center for Networked Systems (CSE).
The department emphasizes computational capability and maintains numerous computer laboratories for instruction and research. One of the NSF national supercomputer centers is located on the campus. This is particularly useful for those whose work requires high data bandwidths.