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Course Description

6.02 introduces several concepts in electrical engineering and computer science using digital communication systems as the vehicle. The three parts of the course cover three corresponding layers of abstraction relevant to the system:

  • Bits: binary representation, compression (source coding), and error correction (channel coding) for messages transmitted across a noisy link
  • Signals: signal representation of binary messages for transmission across a shared physical channel subject to distortion and noise;
  • Packets: efficient, reliable communication across networks made up of multiple links.

Prerequisites: 6.0001
Units: 4-4-4
Requirements satisfied: Institute Lab

All of the below information, including scheduling, is subject to change until the first day of classes. Please see the homepage for more details.


Zoom links for all lectures and recitations are available on Piazza
Lectures: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT (alternate time: 9:00am-10:00am EDT), Dr. Katrina LaCurts
Recitations: Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the times below:

Section Time Instructor
1 10:00am-11:00am EDT Alexandre Megretski
2 11:00am-12:00pm EDT Alexandre Megretski
3 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT Muriel Medard
4 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT Muriel Medard
5 3:00pm-4:00pm EDT Karen Sollins
6 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT Karen Sollins


Role Name Email
Lecturer Katrina LaCurts
Muriel Medard
Alexandre Megretski
Karen Sollins
Lara Shonkwiler
Sreya Vangara
Crystal Wang
Wesley Woo
LAs Quinn Bowers qbowers@mit.edu
Erastus Murungi murungi@mit.edu
Sabina Tontici sabina22@mit.edu
Carine You carine@mit.edu


Your grade in 6.02 will be the weighted average of the following component grades:

Exam 116%
Exam 216%
Exam 316%
Ten PSets47% (5% each, except PS0, which is 2%)

To see your scores, use the Gradebook.

Final grades will be set starting with standard cutoffs: 90% and above corresponds to an A, 80% and above to a B, 70% and above to a C, 60% and above to a D, and less than 60% to an F.

The staff reserves the right to lower those grade cutoffs, but we will not raise them (i.e., if you earn a 90% in the class, you are guaranteed to get an A). We do not grade on a curve; if every student in 6.02 earns an A, then every student will receive an A.

Equal Access

The staff of 6.02 is committed to the principle of equal access. We encourage you to meet with Dr. LaCurts to discuss your disability-related needs, including accommodations which you may need in order to fully access this course.

Due Dates, Lateness Penalties, and Extension Policy

Due dates for all PSets and Exams are posted on the course calendar. You may use up to five extension days (in total) over the course of the semester for the ten PSets, with a maximum of two days on any one PSet.

To claim an extension day, click here (this link is also available from the Assignments page). For any other late PSets, our policy is as follows:

  • If your PSet is no more than one week late, your score will be multiplied by 0.5 (i.e., you will receive no more than 50% of the possible points).
  • If your PSet is more than one week late, your score will be multiplied by .25 (i.e., you will receive no more than 25% of the possible points).
Students with medical or personal difficulties should see Student Support Services for help, and then email Dr. LaCurts. We will work with you and S3 to come up with a plan for making up late work without penalty.

For any circumstance other than medical or personal difficulties (e.g., interview trips, sporting events, performances), please use your five extension days.

Grade Components

Problem Sets

There are ten problem sets (PSets), posted more-or-less weekly on the web site. Each PSet is due on the date specified; usually that's 11:45pm on a Thursday. Solutions will be available a few days after the due date, once you have submitted the assignment online. See the course calendar for the specific dates.

Each PSet is divided between analysis/theory problems and tasks that involve exploring communication concepts using Python. You will have to write some of your own code, so be sure to start early and leave enough time to debug your implementation before the due date.

After your PSet has been graded, your score and any comments from the grader can be viewed online by browsing the PSet. If you have any questions or concerns about the grading, contact your TA.

Working through the PSets (and other practice problems we provide) is an essential component in learning the material. They are also helpful to test your understanding of what we teach and to prepare for the exams. We expect you to give a good-faith effort on every PSet. If you miss a single PSet, you'll receive a 0% for that PSet; missing additional PSets will result in an Incomplete, or worse, in the class.

Checkoff Interviews

There will be checkoff interviews for most PSets, lasting 10 minutes on average, which you must complete with your assigned TA/LA at your scheduled time. The goal of the checkoffs is for us to gauge how well you understand the mechanics behind the PSet, and to give you an explicit opportunity to ask about anything that you found confusing. With checkoff interviews, we're able to catch any major misunderstandings quickly, rather than after you've taken an exam. Since checkoffs are only ten minutes, being even a few minutes late drastically affects how much we can evaluate on, impacting the grade you may earn. You must be five minutes early to your checkoff slot: if you signed up for a 3PM slot, you should enter the Zoom room at 2:55 PM. The checkoff rooms will all have waiting rooms you can be in until the TA/LA calls you in. If you arrive late (after 3PM in the example above), your checkoff will be counted as late.

You can reschedule your checkoff with no penalty if you contact your checkoff TA/LA more than 12 hours in advance. We will make exceptions to this policy only in the case of illness or last minute technical issues - if you find yourself in one of those situations, please let your TA/LA know as soon as possible. If you are routinely having internet issues, and don't have an external internet source such as the MIT iPad plan that you can send emails from (i.e. if you are unable to connect to the checkoff and need to alert your TA/LA), let your TA/LA know so they can work with you on an effective checkoff plan. With the semester being virtual, we want to have a consistent channel between yourself and your TA/LA, so we can provide help and support when needed, and follow the status of the class as a whole. Therefore, we are very amiable towards creating different checkoff plans for students in various circumstances.

If you need to miss your checkoff because of illness, or similar, let your TA/LA know as far in advance as possible, and they will work with you to reschedule. Checkoff Grading Policy

  • If you reschedule your checkoff with your TA/LA more than 12 hours in advance (or have an emergency or technical issues), it will be graded as usual.
  • If you are not on the Zoom call at your scheduled time, that will be counted as a missed checkoff.
  • If you miss your checkoff and have not rescheduled it, your PSet will be marked as incomplete until you contact your TA/LA and have completed a make-up checkoff. You cannot pass the class if you have more than one incomplete PSet.
  • If your missed checkoff is not excused (see 1), your entire PSet grade (checkoff included) will be reduced by 20%.


There are three exams, all during the regular semester. Exams will cover materials from lectures, recitations, and problem sets. The first exam will cover the "bits" module, the second the "signals" module, and the third the "packets" module.

During Finals Week, there will be an entirely optional final exam. The intent of the final is to allow you to improve upon previous exam grades, if you wish. It will work as follows:

  • There will be three sections of the final, corresponding to each of the three earlier exams. Each section will be roughly the same length as the corresponding earlier exam.
  • If you earn a higher score on a section of the final than you did on the corresponding exam, we will replace your previous exam score with the higher score from the final. We will not replace a previous exam score with a lower score.
  • Although you may complete as many sections of the final as you wish, we recommend taking zero or one, because of time limits. It will be tough to complete two sections of the final exam in the time given, and very tough to complete three.

To help you decide whether to take this optional final exam, we will assign preliminary letter grades before finals week (target date: 12/10). If you don't take the final, that will be your final grade in the class. If you do take a section of the final, it's possible that your grade could improve.

Because of this policy, if you have to miss an exam due to illness during the semester, there will be no need to schedule a make-up; we'll simply ask you to take the relevant section of the final exam.


After each lecture, we will post a short "nanoquiz". The goal of these exercises is education, not assessment. They do count towards your grade, but more importantly you can use them as a quick check to see whether you understood the relevant lecture.

Nanoquizzes are designed to be short. If you paid attention in lecture, they should take no more than a few minutes. They are not designed to be comprehensive. They test an important concept from lecture, but not every concept from lecture.

Because each individual quiz is such a small percentage of your grade, we will not offer extensions on these assignments, except in the cases where students have documented support from Student Support Services.


We understand that the nature of a remote semester will have unforeseen consequences on student participation. For instance, you may have every intention of attending a lecture, but be hit by an unexpected Internet outage.

We expect you to keep up with the material covered in lecture. Attending lectures live will allow you to ask questions during the lecture, and give you a specific, recurring time in which to view each lecture, which is helpful in staying on top of the material. If you are unable to attend a lecture, we expect you to work through the corresponding material (lecture notes, etc.), and to ask questions, either in office hours, on Piazza, or via some other method.

We also expect you to be sufficiently engaged with the course as a whole, and familiar with all policies. To that end, once you have finished reading this syllabus, email Dr. LaCurts a photo of a pet, if you have one (if not, random animals are fine, or any object in your life that brings you joy). She'll send you a photo of her dog, cat, or plants in return, if you request.

Regrade Policy

If you find a grading error in an assignment, please contact one of the TAs.

Collaboration Policy

We encourage you to work with other students in the class, as well as the course staff, to learn the underlying material. You are allowed, but not required, to work in groups of 2-3 to complete each problem set. You must tell us the people that you work with (each pset will ask you to name your collaborators).

However, you must write up your own solutions, both to the questions on the pset and any coding portions. You will complete PSet checkoffs individually.

No collaboration is allowed on the exams.

Incidents of plagiarism will result in a grade of zero on the assignment and, at the discretion of the staff, further disciplinary action may be pursued. More information about what constitutes plagiarism can be found here.