Window and overlap processing effects on power estimates from spectra

M. W. Trethewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Fast Fourier transform (FFT) spectral processing is based on the assumption of stationary ergodic data. In engineering practice, the assumption is often violated and non-stationary data processed. Data windows are commonly used to reduce leakage by decreasing the signal amplitudes near the boundaries of the discrete samples. With certain combinations of non-stationary signals and windows, the temporal weighting may attenuate important signal characteristics to adversely affect any subsequent processing. In other words, the window artificially reduces a significant section of the time signal. Consequently, spectra and overall power estimated from the affected samples are unreliable. FFT processing can be particularly problematic when the signal consists of randomly occurring transients superimposed on a more continuous signal. Overlap processing is commonly used in this situation to improve the estimates. However, the results again depend on the temporal character of the signal in relation to the window weighting. A worst case scenario, a short-duration half sine pulse, is used to illustrate the relationship between overlap percentage and resulting power estimates. The power estimates are shown to depend on the temporal behaviour of the square of overlapped window segments. An analysis shows that power estimates may be obtained to within 0.27 dB for the following windows and overlap combinations: rectangular (0% overlap), Hanning (62.5% overlap), Hamming (60.35% overlap) and flat-top (82.25% overlap).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalMechanical Systems and Signal Processing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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