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# Short Time Fourier Transform

Module by: Ivan Selesnick. E-mail the author

Summary: Introduction to the Short Time Fourier Transform, which includes it's definition and methods for its use.

## Short Time Fourier Transform

The Fourier transforms (FT, DTFT, DFT, etc.) do not clearly indicate how the frequency content of a signal changes over time.

That information is hidden in the phase - it is not revealed by the plot of the magnitude of the spectrum.

### Note:

To see how the frequency content of a signal changes over time, we can cut the signal into blocks and compute the spectrum of each block.
To improve the result,
1. blocks are overlapping
2. each block is multiplied by a window that is tapered at its endpoints.
Several parameters must be chosen:
• Block length, RR.
• The type of window.
• Amount of overlap between blocks. (Figure 1)
• Amount of zero padding, if any.

The short-time Fourier transform is defined as

Xωm=STFTxnDTFTxnmwn= n =xnmwne(iωn)= n =0R1xnmwne(iωn) X ω m STFT x n DTFT x n m w n n x n m w n ω n n 0 R 1 x n m w n ω n
(1)
where wn w n is the window function of length RR.
1. The STFT of a signal xn x n is a function of two variables: time and frequency.
2. The block length is determined by the support of the window function wn w n .
3. A graphical display of the magnitude of the STFT, |Xωm| X ω m , is called the spectrogram of the signal. It is often used in speech processing.
4. The STFT of a signal is invertible.
5. One can choose the block length. A long block length will provide higher frequency resolution (because the main-lobe of the window function will be narrow). A short block length will provide higher time resolution because less averaging across samples is performed for each STFT value.
6. A narrow-band spectrogram is one computed using a relatively long block length RR, (long window function).
7. A wide-band spectrogram is one computed using a relatively short block length RR, (short window function).

### Sampled STFT

To numerically evaluate the STFT, we sample the frequency axis ωω in NN equally spaced samples from ω=0 ω 0 to ω=2π ω 2 .

k,0kN1: ω k =2πNk k 0 k N 1 ω k 2 N k
(2)
We then have the discrete STFT,
X d kmX2πNkm= n =0R1xnmwne(iωn)= n =0R1xnmwn W N (kn)= DFT N xnmwn|n=0R10,…0 X d k m X 2 N k m n 0 R 1 x n m w n ω n n 0 R 1 x n m w n W N k n DFT N n 0 R 1 x n m w n 0,…0
(3)
where 0,…00,…0 is NRNR .

In this definition, the overlap between adjacent blocks is R1 R 1 . The signal is shifted along the window one sample at a time. That generates more points than is usually needed, so we also sample the STFT along the time direction. That means we usually evaluate X d kLm X d k L m where LL is the time-skip. The relation between the time-skip, the number of overlapping samples, and the block length is Overlap=RL Overlap R L

#### Exercise 1

Match each signal to its spectrogram in Figure 2.

### Spectrogram Example

The matlab program for producing the figures above (Figure 3 and Figure 4).



x = mtlb;

figure(1), clf
plot(0:4000,x)
xlabel('n')
ylabel('x(n)')

% SET PARAMETERS
R = 256;               % R: block length
window = hamming(R);   % window function of length R
N = 512;               % N: frequency discretization
L = 35;                % L: time lapse between blocks
fs = 7418;             % fs: sampling frequency
overlap = R - L;

% COMPUTE SPECTROGRAM
[B,f,t] = specgram(x,N,fs,window,overlap);

% MAKE PLOT
figure(2), clf
imagesc(t,f,log10(abs(B)));
colormap('jet')
axis xy
xlabel('time')
ylabel('frequency')
title('SPECTROGRAM, R = 256')



### Effect of window length R

Here is another example to illustrate the frequency/time resolution trade-off (See figures - Figure 5, Figure 6, and Figure 7).

### Effect of L and N

A spectrogram is computed with different parameters: L110 L 1 10 N32256 N 32 256

• LL = time lapse between blocks.
• NN = FFT length (Each block is zero-padded to length NN.)
In each case, the block length is 30 samples.

#### Exercise 2

For each of the four spectrograms in Figure 8 can you tell what LL and NN are?

LL and NN do not effect the time resolution or the frequency resolution. They only affect the 'pixelation'.

### Effect of R and L

Shown below are four spectrograms of the same signal. Each spectrogram is computed using a different set of parameters. R1202561024 R 120 256 1024 L35250 L 35 250 where

• RR = block length
• LL = time lapse between blocks.

#### Exercise 3

For each of the four spectrograms in Figure 9, match the above values of LL and RR.

If you like, you may listen to this signal with the soundsc command; the data is in the file: stft_data.m. Here is a figure of the signal.

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