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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

George C Stecker
SPHSC 261
Seattle Campus

The Nature of Sound

Fundamental principles of sound and vibration with emphasis on examples relevant to the speech and hearing systems. Required for majors: open to nonmajors. Recommended: MATH 120; PHYS 114. Offered: WS.

Class description

This course is meant to introduce you to fundamental principles of sound and vibration, with emphasis on examples relevant to the speech and hearing systems. The goal is to generate an appreciation and intuitive understanding of how sounds are generated, how they are affected by various types of systems, and how they are measured. A secondary goal is to develop mastery of the calculations necessary for solving simple practical problems in acoustics (e.g., calculation of sound levels, spectral components, etc.).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures introduce conceptual material and try to instigate fruitful discussion here. Lecture notes will be available for download on the course website.

Laboratory sections will explore concepts in acoustics using hands-on computer demonstrations. The goal is to develop an understanding of these concepts through directed exercises. Sections will be held in campus computer classrooms.

Recommended preparation

The class is meant to be accessible to students with little background in communication, mathematics, or acoustics. However, the most successful students will arrive familiar with basic algebra, trigonometry, and logarithms. MATH 111, MATH 120, (preferably MATH 112 or MATH 124), or equivalent is strongly recommended. Similarly, students with some basic physics background (e.g., PHYS 114 or equivalent) will be best prepared to deal with concepts in sound and vibration.

Class assignments and grading

Final grades will reflect a combination of laboratory exercises, exams, regular brief writing assignments, and active participation in both lecture and lab.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by George C Stecker
Date: 02/03/2010