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A coefficient system has been devised which makes use of transmission objectives and amplifier performance to provide a new method of optimizing CATV system design. Maximum system length, in number of tandem amplifiers, is given for a reference amplifier. This number is called the system coefficient. Each other amplifier, either line or distribution, is assigned an amplifier coefficient which shows the number of reference amplifiers to which it is equivalent. For all amplifiers in tandem, the sum of the amplifier coefficients must be less than or equal to the system coefficient. This allows different kinds of amplifiers to be mixed in the same system and systems of different numbers of channels or bandwidth to be mixed to form a larger system. In addition, a line amplifier figure of merit can be derived which is independent of transmission requirements.