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The Most Common Books Every Electrical Engineer Should Study I’ll do my best. My algorithm is: I’ll point the EE areas I am more knowl...

The Most Common Books Every Electrical Engineer Should Study

The Most Common Books Every Electrical Engineer Should Study
The Most Common Books Every Electrical Engineer Should Study
I’ll do my best. My algorithm is: I’ll point the EE areas I am more knowledgeable and offer my advice on one or a couple of books which I know well. Since I’m already quite old, some of my suggestions are old books, but keep in mind that in many areas of EE I own tens of books :-) old and new, so my selections come from relatively large samples.

My main advice is: avoid (most) current editions of textbooks, because they are insanely expensive (any textbook for core EE courses costs nowadays 200 USD or even more; in the last years these costs ramped up in parallel with university tuitions) and, more important they are bloated with tons of figures, examples, Matlab codes and Spice simulations which often are redundant and promote the technique of “learning by doing tons of quizzes, exercises and problems” instead of “learning by reasoning on the matters”.

To be kind, I say 60% of what is crammed in modern textbooks is c**p and could be removed with no harm; in an age where everybody writes shortened SMSs and Tweets, suggesting textbooks with 1000 pages, and in some cases with near 1500 pages (current 7th ed. of “Microelectronics” from A. Sedra has 1488 pages; despite this, I will recommend it below…) for an annual or one semester course is pornographic. These books are encyclopedias, not textbooks.

So here go a few areas and book suggestions.

Circuit theory: 
Chua, Desoer and Kuh, “Linear and Nonlinear Circuits”, McGraw-Hill, 1987. This is out of print and hard to find and expensive even in 2nd hand. Once you study circuits in this book (mainly techniques for dealing with nonlinear circuits), you will despise almost all other books in the area. Besides this, one there is worth is the older Desoer and Kuh’s “Basic Circuit Theory”, McGraw-Hill, 1969.

Electronics: 
The fundamental book IMHO is Gray & Searle’s “Electronic Principles”, Wiley, 1969. Here you find the basics of analog and digital circuits design. It is outdated but you learn the fundamentals. Deep discussion on the electrical behavior (even nonlinear dynamics) of diodes and transistors. Bare-bones feedback analysis.

Another fundamental one is Gray & Meyer’s “Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits” now in its fifth edition. Its very worth finding a cheap used copy of an old edition, any of them. This book teaches greatly the art of designing analog ICs, with bipolar or MOS technologies. 

Another must is “The Art of Electronics” from Horowitz and Hill. I own the 1st and 2nd eds. and they are books geared towards practical electronics. 2nd ed. is more complete. Its a book for someone who is not in the “electronics learning phase” IMHO, although authors claim it is for learners. To understand many of the tricks and circuits in TAOE you must be a seasoned electronics practitioner, not a rookie. 

If you already read in a row the 5 books of “The Game of Thrones” from Martin, or the series “War and Peace” from Tolstoi, or Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” or, finally, the trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings” from Tolkien, you are qualified to study “Microelectronic Circuits” from Sedra and Smith. Very wide coverage of microelectronic circuits. But it could have been written in half of the 1500 pages… 

Finally, a modern electronics book that mixes basic circuit theory with analog and digital electronics is Agarwal and Lang’s “Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits”, Morgan Kaufmann, 2005. This was the text used as a base of Agarwal’s great and funny (at times) online course (MOOC) in electronics that appeared in MITX and EDX a couple years ago. It is a very good book that can support quite well several courses in the circuits and electronics area. Not very advanced.

Final comment: if you are not in a budget, and really want to master electronics, buy a copy of each of the above. They are all different from one another.

Digital Signal Processing: 

No doubts here: Oppenheim & Schafer’s “Digital Signal Processing”, Prentice-Hall, 1975. The sequels “Discrete-Time Signal Processing” (now in its 3rd edition) are also very good, but I prefer the original. A very good complement for that one is the book “Theory and Application of Digital Signal Processing” from Rabiner & Gold, Prentice-Hall, 1975. Both books came from the Bell Labs group on DSP.

Control: 
I like Chen’s “Analog and Digital Control System Design: Transfer-Function, State-Space, and Algebraic Methods”, HRW, 1993 (although not very loved, popular and best buy in Amazon) . It is complete and not bloated. Other very good and competent books in this area are Ogata’s “Modern Control Engineering” and Nise’s “Control Systems Engineering”. Even the old editions of Ogata were already very wide range and complete.

Electromagnetics: 
This is Physics :-) What I recommend here is a book on “applied electromagnetics” regarding specifically the design and assembly of electronic systems: Johnson & Graham’s “High Speed Digital Design: A Handbook of Black Magic”, Prentice-Hall, 1993. There is a complement in “High Speed Signal Propagation: Advanced Black Magic” from the same authors. The title says it all. Readable account of the interaction of electromagnetic with high speed circuits design.

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