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Book Review: Signals and Systems by Oppenheim and Willsky (with S.Hamid Nawab)

Book Review of ”Signals and Systems” by Alan V. Oppenheim and Alan S. Willsky with S. Hamid Nawab – Oppenheim and Willsky are two well-known professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and also have other books in the similar field. The book is published by PHI learning private limited and its Eastern Economy Edition is available in Indian Market.

This is a very good book for those who want to clear all their concepts of Signals and Systems. This is not just a book it’s a journey from basics to a pretty advanced level, but will answer all your What?, Why? and How? of the subject. Now just a thing you need to take care is that book is too vast so you may end moving ahead with the book and will forget what you studied. So keep the exam syllabus or contents you want to study handy.

#TIP: Try making short notes by marking or preferably by writing somewhere.

Contents Covered in Book:

1) Signals and Systems

2) Linear Time-Invariant Systems

3) Fourier series representation of Periodic Signals

4) The Continuous-Time Fourier Transform

5) The Discrete-Time Fourier Transform

6) Time and Frequency Characterization of Signals and Systems

7) Sampling

8) Communication Systems

9) The Laplace Transform

10) The Z Transform

11) Linear Feedback Systems

Appendix of the Book deals with ways of Partial Fraction Expansion, similar to the one we study in mathematics but applied with continuous/discrete signals and systems. Just going through the appendix and referring only when needed while studying the book won’t harm, so just go through appendix once if in no hurry.

Now dealing with specific points about Book:

PRINT QUALITY: ”Signals and Systems” by Oppenheim and Willsky is a black and white printed with a decent print quality for text. Font size is small but readable but may create a problem due to monotonous nature, and needs a focused mind while reading. The small font has only made the book to end in 957 pages otherwise it may have reached two-fold.

DETAILING: The book has quite nice details about almost every topic which are covered in the book. 1st Chapter on signals and systems give a very good graphical and practical overview of the signal as well as system properties. The Transition from Fourier series to Fourier Transform is handled quite smoothly and clears the difference between two effectively. Properties of Laplace and Z transform with respective ROCs are covered in depth which cannot be found in many books.

EXAMPLES: Solved examples given with the text are necessary for better understanding of the subject as they actually teach you to apply concepts. LTI systems are explained quite nicely by graphs and solved examples in this book. I would recommend solving examples for all text you study don’t skip it; it is a part of theory only.

EXERCISES: Few concepts can be better understood by solving exercise problems in a few foreign author books and this is one of them. The exercise of “Sampling” chapter will give you better grip over the topic. For Fourier series topic also concept of orthogonality and orthonormality are touched in depth by extended problems in the book at the last of the chapter. Exercise needs to be solved at least once, if while solving you think that concepts are repeating skip questions which are repeated but don’t skip exercises.

DRAWBACKS: Few drawbacks of this book are:

  • This book doesn’t contain topics such DFT and FFT chapters, which can be studied using Book “Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms, and Applications, By – John G. Proakis and Dimitris G. Manolakis”.
  • The book is quite vast and you need to build short notes or mark contents for reference to keep track of wide content.
  • No summary is given with chapters at the end so no need to make a summary on your own.
  • If only theory part is read without doing examples and exercise, the book won’t be of much help and cannot give you that understanding which you could have got otherwise.
  • The book needs a lot of time to complete as each topic is covered in detail.
  • While reading, normally a student may not be able to develop much interest due to monotonous nature of the book and too much mathematics involved but may interest some.


This is one of the best books in all aspects whether its theory, understanding or practicing question. But the book can only be read if you have enough time to provide to this book. Otherwise, it can be referred for a particular topic also. I am sure that this book is worth reading if someone wants to clear his/her concepts of signals and systems thoroughly. For only practice purpose, Schaum’s series book on Signals and Systems can be referred. Some online videos or notes may help for brief reading, but for competitive exams such as GATE, I recommend this book. As this book also helps a lot while appearing for Interviews at IITs and PSUs.

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