I need to estimate the dominant wavelength of a signal that is looking like this:enter image description here My first attempt was using scipy.signal.argrelmin in Python in order to detect the minima of the signal, but it detects also very small local minima. Is there any useful method for this that I should look into? (The wavelength that I would like to measure is the one between the pronounced minima in the above figure) The data for this solution can be downloaded from here.

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    $\begingroup$ have you checked if scipy.signal.find_peaks_cwt works (docs.scipy.org/doc/scipy/reference/generated/…)? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I tried to use it, but I still don't make a lot of sense to it...I will keep on reading in this direction, so thanks $\endgroup$
    – Ohm
    Dec 12, 2016 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ can you provide the data somewhere on the internet? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't a (log) spectral analysis work? The reciprocal value of the dominant frequency should give you the dominant wavelength no? What am I missing? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @ruohoruotsi: Maybe with only 3 of these peaks a spectral analysis would not show a strong peak at the correct frequency. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


Consider the code snippet below to find the three peaks in the graph. Note, that peak search usually only searches for positive peaks. Hence, I negated the signal to search for the down-peaks. Also, I adapt the SNR threshold in the code to detect only the very strong peaks.

import urllib2
import scipy.signal as signal

url = 'https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Omer80/wavelength/master/oscillations.dat'
response = urllib2.urlopen(url)
cr = np.loadtxt(response)
X = cr[0,:]
Y = cr[1,:]


plt.plot(X, Y)

peakind = signal.find_peaks_cwt(-Y, np.array([100]), min_snr=5)
peakind = np.array(peakind)
print peakind

plt.stem(X[peakind], 1+0*peakind);

period = int(np.mean(np.diff(peakind)))
print "Period between peaks:", X[period]-X[0]


[1919 2500 3080]
Period between peaks: 0.145036259065

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Is the any difference in calculating the period with period = int(np.mean(np.diff(peakind))) print "Period between peaks:", X[period]-X[0] instead of np.mean(np.diff(X[peakind])) ? $\endgroup$
    – Ohm
    Dec 13, 2016 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ This wont make a difference, it's also possible. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2016 at 8:18

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