CH9 - CHAPTER 9 Applications of the DFT The Discrete...

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169 CHAPTER 9 Applications of the DFT The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) is one of the most important tools in Digital Signal Processing. This chapter discusses three common ways it is used. First, the DFT can calculate a signal's frequency spectrum . This is a direct examination of information encoded in the frequency, phase, and amplitude of the component sinusoids. For example, human speech and hearing use signals with this type of encoding. Second, the DFT can find a system's frequency response from the system's impulse response, and vice versa. This allows systems to be analyzed in the frequency domain , just as convolution allows systems to be analyzed in the time domain . Third, the DFT can be used as an intermediate step in more elaborate signal processing techniques. The classic example of this is FFT convolution , an algorithm for convolving signals that is hundreds of times faster than conventional methods. Spectral Analysis of Signals It is very common for information to be encoded in the sinusoids that form a signal. This is true of naturally occurring signals, as well as those that have been created by humans. Many things oscillate in our universe. For example, speech is a result of vibration of the human vocal cords; stars and planets change their brightness as they rotate on their axes and revolve around each other; ship's propellers generate periodic displacement of the water, and so on. The shape of the time domain waveform is not important in these signals; the key information is in the frequency , phase and amplitude of the component sinusoids. The DFT is used to extract this information. An example will show how this works. Suppose we want to investigate the sounds that travel through the ocean. To begin, a microphone is placed in the water and the resulting electronic signal amplified to a reasonable level, say a few volts. An analog low-pass filter is then used to remove all frequencies above 80 hertz, so that the signal can be digitized at 160 samples per second. After acquiring and storing several thousand samples, what next?
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The Scientist and Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Processing 170 The first thing is to simply look at the data. Figure 9-1a shows 256 samples from our imaginary experiment. All that can be seen is a noisy waveform that conveys little information to the human eye. For reasons explained shortly, the next step is to multiply this signal by a smooth curve called a Hamming window , shown in (b). (Chapter 16 provides the equations for the Hamming and other windows; see Eqs. 16-1 and 16-2, and Fig. 16-2a). This results in a 256 point signal where the samples near the ends have been reduced in amplitude, as shown in (c). Taking the DFT, and converting to polar notation, results in the 129 point frequency spectrum in (d). Unfortunately, this also looks like a noisy mess.
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