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Let's assume we have a discrete linear time invariant system and we have a real signal $x[n]$ with length N=50 as input for the system.

The impulse response $h[n]$ of the system is considered to be also a real signal with length M=10.

We want to calculate the output signal $y[n]$.

There are two ways we can do this: We can either convolute the signals $x[n]$,$h[n]$ in the time domain or use FFT radix-2 and work on the frequency domain.

I want to compare the arithmetic complexity of these two methods in number of real multiplications.I know that the arithmetic complexity of convolution is $N \cdot M$ since $N \cdot M$ real multiplications are required in order to calculate $y[n]$. However, I am bit confused with FFT-radix 2.

I know that it requires $μ(Ν) = \frac{N}{2}\log _{2}N$ complex multiplications. Every complex multiplication is equivelant to 4 real multiplications. So how many real multiplications are required to calculate $y[n]$? Do I have to calculate first both $X[k]$ and $H[k]$ by using $\frac{50}{2}\log _{2}50 + \frac{10}{2}\log _{2}10 $ real multiplications? And if so, how do I go on?

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  • $\begingroup$ If you have an input signal that's substantially longer then the filter, the best way to go is often "overlap add", i.e. you break it down into a set of smaller FFTs instead one large one. In your example, this won't make much of a difference since both signal and impulse response are "short". $\endgroup$
    – Hilmar
    Jun 10, 2019 at 14:18

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Let the input signal $x[n]$ has a legth of $N=50$ samples, and the filter $h[n]$ has a length of $M=10$ samples, then the output $y[n]$ (by linear conv) will have a length of $L = N+M-1=59$ samples.

If you use time-domain convolution, then the number of real MACS can be seen to be $N \cdot M = 50 \times 10 = 500$.

If you want to use radix-2 FFT to implement the linear convolution result, then you should select a length of $R = 64$ for FFTs. And you will: 1- convert $x[n]$ and $h[n]$ into $X[k]$ and $H[k]$ by two $R$-point FFTS, 2- multiply the results to get $Y[k] = X[k]H[k]$, and 3- apply inverse FFT of $R$-point on $Y[k]$ to get the output $y[n]$.

Each $R$-point FFT (and IFFT) requires about $\frac{1}{2} R \cdot \log_2(R)$ complex MACs. One complex MAC is 4 real MACs, therefore this is equivalent to $ 2 ~R ~ \log_2(R) = 128 \log_2(64) = 128 \times 6 = 768 $ real MACs. And the total of two FFTs and one inverse FFT requires about $3 \times 768 = 2304$ real MACs. The intermediate multiplication also requires $4 \times R = 256$ real MACs and hence FFT based implementation requires a total of $2560$ real MACs.

So in this case, time-domain convolution is more efficient than an FFT based implementation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer!It is really helpful!However,If the length $R$ of FFTs is not specified and I want to make a comparison about the complexity of these two methods (knowing only the lengths of $x[n]$ and $h[n]$ as in it is in this example) which is the appropriate value for the FFT length $R$ ? I mean if I want to make a general comparison between these two methods by knowing only the lengths of input signal and impulse response signal which is a correct estimation for the value of $R$?Cause in this case we got that $R=64$ in order to decide which method is more efficient $\endgroup$
    – MJ13
    Jun 9, 2019 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ For radix-2 FFT the best R that yields minimum number of MACs is R = 64. For non radix-2 FFT then the minimum R that yields the output $y[n]$ without aliasing is $R = 59$. However the formula $0.5 R \log_2(R)$ is valid for radix-2 FFT complexity computation. Non radix-2 FFT compexity is larger than radix-2 case. $\endgroup$
    – Fat32
    Jun 9, 2019 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ So if I get it right, in my case, I can assume that $R=64$ and make the calculations as u did, right? $\endgroup$
    – MJ13
    Jun 9, 2019 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MJ13 yes that's right... $\endgroup$
    – Fat32
    Jun 9, 2019 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Ok...Just one thing I don't get...Doesn't the length $R$ of the FFTs have to be smaller or equal to the length of the sequences? I mean input signal sequence $x[n]$ has length $N=50$. How can we apply a DFT of $R$ samples? What am I missing? $\endgroup$
    – MJ13
    Jun 9, 2019 at 11:10

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