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Online tracking of instantaneous frequency and amplitude of

dynamical system response


P. Frank Pai

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 15 February 2009
Received in revised form
29 June 2009
Accepted 8 July 2009
Available online 4 September 2009
Keywords:
Instantaneous frequency
Timefrequency analysis
TeagerKaiser algorithm
Sliding-window tracking
HilbertHuang transform
a b s t r a c t
This paper presents a sliding-window tracking (SWT) method for accurate tracking of
the instantaneous frequency and amplitude of arbitrary dynamic response by
processing only three (or more) most recent data points. TeagerKaiser algorithm
(TKA) is a well-known four-point method for online tracking of frequency and
amplitude. Because nite difference is used in TKA, its accuracy is easily destroyed by
measurement and/or signal-processing noise. Moreover, because TKA assumes the
processed signal to be a pure harmonic, any moving average in the signal can destroy
the accuracy of TKA. On the other hand, because SWT uses a constant and a pair of
windowed regular harmonics to t the data and estimate the instantaneous frequency
and amplitude, the inuence of any moving average is eliminated. Moreover, noise
ltering is an implicit capability of SWT when more than three data points are used, and
this capability increases with the number of processed data points. To compare the
accuracy of SWT and TKA, HilbertHuang transform is used to extract accurate time-
varying frequencies and amplitudes by processing the whole data set without assuming
the signal to be harmonic. Frequency and amplitude trackings of different amplitude-
and frequency-modulated signals, vibrato in music, and nonlinear stationary and non-
stationary dynamic signals are studied. Results show that SWT is more accurate, robust,
and versatile than TKA for online tracking of frequency and amplitude.
& 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Every mechanical system (including human ears) has its specic resonant frequency (or frequencies), and its response
to an excitation is primarily determined by the closeness and commensurability (if nonlinear systems with polynomial
types of nonlinearity) between the excitation frequency and the resonant frequency [1]. Moreover, a signal is mainly
described by its amplitude and frequency. Hence, extraction or tracking of a signals frequency and amplitude is one of the
major tasks in signal processing for dynamics-based structural health monitoring, dynamical system identication and
control, recognition of speech and music, and many other scientic applications [26]. For experimental verication and
updating of nite-element models, aircraft ight tests, and many other types of after-fact data analysis, extraction of
frequencies and amplitudes is needed. However, effective control schemes, online structural health monitoring, and many
other real-world applications require online casual tracking (i.e., one new output from one new input) of the instantaneous
frequency and amplitude of a signal, which is more challenging because only a limited number of data points can be
processed due to the limited processing speed of hardware and software, possible existence of time-varying nonlinear and/
or non-stationary effects, and availability of data points.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jnlabr/ymssp
Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing
ARTICLE IN PRESS
0888-3270/$ - see front matter & 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ymssp.2009.07.014

Tel.: 15738841474; fax: 15738845090.


E-mail address: paip@missouri.edu
Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024
In traditional data analysis, the rst step is to choose a complete, convergent set of orthogonal basis functions, and the
second step is to perform convolution computation between the signal under analysis and the chosen basis functions to
extract components similar to the basis functions [79]. Unfortunately, this approach is not suitable for a nonlinear and/or
non-stationary signal because its frequency and amplitude change with time. Hence, adaptive basis functions need to be
used and they can be derived only from the signal itself.
Fourier transform (FT) is often used to transform time-domain data into frequency-domain data to identify a signals
frequency and amplitude from the obtained spectrum [7], but a spectrum cannot show the time-varying characteristics of
the processed signal. To overcome this problem, short-time Fourier transform (STFT, spectrogram), wavelet transform (WT),
and HilbertHuang transform (HHT) have been developed for timefrequency analysis [1013]. STFT uses windowed
regular harmonics and function orthogonality to simultaneously extract time-localized regular harmonics, and WT uses
scaled and shifted wavelets and function orthogonality to simultaneously extract time-localized components similar to the
wavelets [9]. Unfortunately, STFT and WT cannot accurately extract time-varying frequencies and amplitudes because of
the use of pre-determined basis functions and function orthogonality for simultaneous extraction of components. On the
other hand, HHT uses the apparent time scales revealed by the signals local maxima and minima to sequentially sift
components of different time scales, starting from high-frequency to low-frequency ones [1317]. Because HHT does not
use pre-determined basis functions and function orthogonality for component extraction, it provides more accurate time-
varying amplitudes and frequencies of extracted components. Unfortunately, none of FT, STFT, WT, and HHT is really
appropriate for online tracking of a general signals instantaneous frequency and amplitude because each of these methods
requires a data length that covers at least three periods of the lowest-frequency component of the signal (as explained next
in Section 2.1), and hence the obtained frequency and amplitude are sectionally averaged (not instantaneous) values.
In this paper we derive a sliding-window tracking (SWT) method that can accurately track a signals frequency and
amplitude by processing only three (or more) recent data points. Different linear and nonlinear signals are processed to
validate the method.
2. Extraction and tracking of instantaneous frequency and amplitude
2.1. Extraction
To extract the time-varying amplitude a(t) and phase y(t) from an amplitude-modulated and frequency-modulated
(AMFM) signal u(t)=a(t)cos y(t) one can use its conjugate part v(t)=a(t)siny(t) to form
z(t) u jv = ae
jy
; a =

u
2
v
2
_
; y = tan
1
v=u; (1)
where j

1
_
. Unfortunately, y(t) and a(t) are two unknowns but there is just one known function (i.e., u = acosy). One
can use the Hilbert transform (HT) to obtain the other function v(t), but HT(u)=v=a(t)siny(t) only if it satises the Bedrosian
theorem [18], which requires the frequency band of a(t) be lower and non-overlapped with the frequency band of cos y(t) as
shown next.
Any function dened over 0rtrT can be extended by repeating itself to become a periodic function. Then the averaged
amplitudes of different harmonic components of u(t) over the sampled period T can be extracted using the discrete Fourier
transform (DFT) as [7]
u(t
k
) u
k
= a
0
2

N=2
i=1
(a
i
cos o
i
t
k
b
i
sino
i
t
k
) = a
0
Re(2

N=2
i=1
U
i
e
jo
i
t
k
);
a
i
= 1=N

N
k=1
u
k
cos o
i
t
k
; b
i
= 1=N

N
k=1
u
k
sino
i
t
k
;
U
i
a
i
jb
i
= 1=N

N
k=1
u
k
e
jo
i
t
k
; (2)
where o
i
2pi/T, t
k
(k1)Dt, k=1, y, N, N is the total number of samples (assumed to be even here), Dt the sampling
interval, 1/Dt the sampling frequency, T(=NDt) the sampled period, Df(=1/T) is the frequency resolution, and the Nyquist (or
maximum) frequency is 1/(2Dt)(=N/2T). Moreover, U
i
is the Fourier spectrum, and a
i
and b
i
are amplitudes of the extracted
regular harmonics. The formulas in Eq. (2) for computing a
i
and b
i
show that the conformality between u(t) and cos o
i
t and
sino
i
t is used to extract regular harmonics from u(t). Apparently, regular harmonics of uniformly spaced frequencies are
chosen as basis functions, and u(t) is expressed as the summation of N/2 harmonics of constant amplitudes and phases.
Because the lowest-frequency harmonic has a frequency o
1
=2p/T, the T needs to cover at least one period of the signal in
order to identify the signals lowest-frequency component from the spectrum. Because u
N1
=u
1
is implicitly assumed in
DFT, if sudden change (i.e., discontinuity) exists between u
N
and u
1
due to the sampling process and/or transient response,
the o
1
harmonic is not a real component. Moreover, in order to account for this discontinuity, many high-frequency
harmonics exist and result in the so-called leakage problem in frequency domain, which results in the Gibbs phenomenon
in the time domain. In order to reduce leakage, the sampled period T is often chosen to cover at least three cycles of the
ARTICLE IN PRESS
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1008
lowest-frequency component to be extracted [19]. Moreover, Shannons sampling theory requires more than two samples
per cycle of a component in order to capture the components frequency and amplitude. Hence, more than six samples
covering three periods are needed in order to extract the correct (but averaged) frequency and amplitude from a signals
spectrum. More seriously, a small T results in a big Df(=1/T), and a small N results in a small Nyquist frequency. Hence, this
frequency-domain method is appropriate for extraction of only sectionally averaged frequency and amplitude, but not for
online tracking.
A signals time-varying frequency and amplitude can be extracted as shown next. If the global average of the signal over
0rtrT is zero (i.e., a
0
=0), the conjugate part v(t
k
) of the u(t
k
) in Eq. (2) is given by
v(t
k
) v
k
= 2

N=2
i=1
(a
i
sino
i
t
k
b
i
cos o
i
t
k
) = Im(2

N=2
i=1
U
i
e
jo
i
t
k
): (3)
The v(t) can be proved to be the Hilbert transform (HT) of u(t) [8,13]. Hence, we have
u(t) jv(t) = 2

N=2
i=1
U
i
e
jo
i
t
= ae
jy
; a =

u
2
v
2
_
; y = tan
1
v=u; (4)
_ u(t) j _ v(t) = 2

N=2
i=1
jo
i
U
i
e
jo
i
t
: (5)
Eq. (5) shows that the Fourier spectrum U
i
needed for computing v
k
can be used to compute the instantaneous velocity
using the inverse discrete Fourier transform (IDFT), and then to compute the instantaneous frequency without using nite
difference or curve tting as
o
dy
dt
=
d(tan
1
v=u)
dt
=
u_ v _ uv
a
2
; (6a)
where
_
u du=dt: If signicant noise exists, the o at t=t
n
can be obtained by averaging over 2p Dt to reduce the inuence of
noise as
o -

p
i=p1
[y(t
n
i Dt) y(t
n
(i 1)Dt)]=(2pDt): (6b)
For a lengthy time series without moving averages, this method can accurately extract its time-varying frequency and
amplitude by processing the whole data set. However, online frequency tracking can process only a short length of recent
data, but the discontinuity-induced end effect makes the extracted o(t) and a(t) inaccurate for the current state at one end.
Hence, this method is also inappropriate for online tracking.
More seriously, Eq. (6a) does not work for a signal with a moving average. To illustrate this concept, we consider the
following signal u(t) consisting of two harmonics with constant amplitudes u
1
and u
2
:
u(t) = a
1
cos f
1
a
2
cos f
2
; (7a)
where f
1
o
1
t, f
2
o
2
t, and o
1
and o
2
are constant. It follows from the vector plot on the uv plane and the law of cosines
that
a
12

a
2
1
a
2
2
2a
1
a
2
cos(f
1
f
2
)
_
; f
12
tan
1
a
1
sinf
1
a
2
sinf
2
a
1
cos f
1
a
2
cos f
2
; (7b)
o
12

_
f
12
=
1
2
(o
1
o
2
)
1
2
(o
1
o
2
)
a
2
1
a
2
2
a
2
12
: (7c)
If a
1
=a
2
and o
2
bo
1
E0, u(t) - u a
2
cos o
2
t with u a
1
cos o
1
t
n
being a constant around t=t
n
. Then, it follows from
Eq. (7c) that o
12
Eo
2
/2, but the actual instantaneous frequency should be close to o
2
because the instantaneous trajectory
in the uv plane circles around the tip point O
2
of the vector a
1
e
jo
1
tn
with a circular frequency close to o
2
. Because o
1
E0,
the period 2p/o
1
-N and any nite-length sampling will present the signal as u(t)Ea
1
a
2
coso
2
t around t=0. Hence
Eq. (3) will give v(t)Ea
2
sino
2
t because the a
1
would be processed as the global average a
0
in Eq. (2). The erroneous
prediction of Eq. (7c) results from the assumption that v(t) = a
1
sinf
1
a
2
sinf
2
and use of the origin O
1
in the uv plane to
be the instantaneous trajectory center. Moreover, to obtain v=HT(u)=a
1
sinf
1
a
2
sinf
2
requires an innite length of
sampling in order to present the signal as u(t)=a
1
cos f
1
a
2
cos f
2
and to have a zero global average a
0
, which is almost
impossible to be numerically realized. Ifo
1
is not negligibly small, the instantaneous trajectory center will be at a point O
that is different from O
1
and O
2
. All the mistakes and paradoxical theories about instantaneous frequencies in the literature
are mainly caused by the co-existence of these three centers O, O
1
, and O
2
and the difculty in tracking them in the time/
frequency domains (see, e.g., [20]).
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P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1009
2.2. Tracking
For casual online frequency tracking, the TeagerKaiser algorithm (TKA) is a popular energy scheme that requires only
four recent data points [21,22]. TKA assumes the signal u(t) to be a regular harmonic and hence
u a cos(ot f);
_
u = oa sin(ot f);

u = o
2
a cos(ot f);
.
u = o
3
a sin(ot f);
c(u) _ u
2
u u = o
2
a
2
; c( _ u) u
2
( _ u)
.
u = o
4
a
2
=o =

c( _ u)
c(u)

; a =
c(u)

c( _ u)
_ x: (8)
For digital signal processing, one can replace
_
u with the two-sample backward difference (u
n
u
n1
)/Dt and forward
difference (u
n1
u
n
)/Dt and u with the three-sample central difference (u
n1
2u
n
u
n1
)/Dt
2
to obtain
(Dt)
2
c(u
n
) = (u
n
u
n1
)(u
n1
u
n
) u
n
(u
n1
2u
n
u
n1
) = u
2
n
u
n1
u
n1
= a
2
sin
2
(oDt);
(Dt)
4
c( _ u
n
) = (u
n
u
n1
)
2
(u
n1
u
n2
)(u
n1
u
n
) = 4a
2
sin
2
(oDt)sin
2
(oDt=2);
=
(Dt)
4
c( _ u
n
)
2(Dt)
2
c(u
n
)
= 2sin
2
(oDt=2) = 1 cos(oDt);
o =
1
Dt
cos
1
1
(Dt)
4
c( _ u
n
)
2(Dt)
2
c(u
n
)
_ _
; a =

(Dt)
2
c(u
n
)
1 cos
2
(oDt)

; (9)
where t
n
(n1)Dt. Because the signal is assumed to be a pure harmonic and it uses nite difference, TKA cannot accurately
track frequencies and amplitudes of signals with moving averages and noise-contaminated signals, as shown later in
Section 4 by examples.
To account for a possible moving average C
0
, to reduce inuences of noise, and to use only three or more samples in the
frequency and amplitude tracking, we propose the following sliding-window tracking (SWT) method. The signal is
assumed to have the following form:
u(t) = C
0
e
1
cos(ot) f
1
sin(ot) = C
0
C
1
cos(ot) D
1
sin(ot); (10)
where C
0
, e
1
, and f
1
are unknown constants, t ( t t
n
)is a localized time coordinate, t
n
is the observed time instant, and
C
1

e
2
1
f
2
1
_
cos(ot
n
f
1
); D
1

e
2
1
f
2
1
_
sin(ot
n
f
1
); f
1
tan
1
f
1
=e
1
: (11)
The o at the fourth data point is proposed to be estimated using the TKA shown in Eq. (9) by processing the rst four data
points, and hence this frequency-tracking method works only after the rst 4 data points are available. After the fourth
point, the previous points frequency will be used as an initial guess of the current points frequency. Then, the three
unknowns C
0
, C
1
, and D
1
for the current data point at t = 0 (i.e., t=t
n
) can be determined by minimizing the square
errorE
error
S
m1
t=0
a
[i[
(u
ni
u
ni
)
2
, where m(Z3) is the total number of processed data points, u
n1
denotes the right-hand
side of Eq. (10) with t t
i
= i Dt, and u
ni
denotes the actual u(t) at t = t
n
t
i
. Moreover, a
[i[
is a weighting factor, and the
forgetting factor a(r1) is chosen by the user. However, a=1 is used for all examples presented in this work. Because there
are only three unknowns, only three recent data points need to be processed. However, more points can be used to reduce
the inuence of measurement noise and/or signal-processing errors. After C
1
and D
1
are determined, the instantaneous
amplitude a, phase angle y, and frequency o can be obtained as
a

C
2
1
D
2
1
_
=

e
2
1
f
2
1
_
; y tan
1
(D
1
=C
1
) = ot
n
f
1
; o =
_
y: (12)
Because the initial guess of o is updated using Eq. (12), this method is able to adapt and capture the actual variation of
frequency. Eq. (12) reveals that D
1
is the Hilbert transform of C
1
. To reduce the inuence of noise on calculated frequency,
the o at t=t
n
can be computed by averaging over p Dt as
o -

p1
i=0
[y(t
n
i Dt) y(t
n
(i 1)Dt)]=(pDt): (13)
However, this can be calculated only after the (mp)th data point. Eq. (9) shows that TKA requires minimal computation,
but SWT requires more computation because the corresponding least-squares tting requires formation and inversion of at
least a 33 symmetric matrix.
2.3. Dynamic characteristics of nonlinear oscillators
To illustrate that the steady-state response of a nonlinear system to a harmonic excitation is an amplitude- and
frequency-modulated harmonic and the proposed SWT method can track its time-varying frequency and amplitude to
reveal the systems order, type, and magnitude of nonlinearity, we consider the following Dufng oscillator subjected to a
harmonic excitation having a frequency O close to its linear natural frequency o, and the corresponding steady-state
ARTICLE IN PRESS
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1010
second-order perturbation solution is [1]:
u 2Bo_ u o
2
u au
3
= Fcos(Ot); (14a)
u(t) = a
1
cos(Ot f) a
3
cos(3Ot 3f) = a(t) cos(Ot f Y(t)); a
3

aa
3
1
32O
2
5a
1
; (14b)
a(t)

a
2
1
a
2
3
2a
1
a
3
cos(2Ot 2f)
_
- a
1
a
3
cos(2Ot 2f); (14c)
Y(t) tan
1
a
3
sin(2Ot 2f)
a
1
a
3
cos(2Ot 2f)
-
a
3
a
1
sin(2Ot 2f); (14d)
O
_
O
_
Y = O
2Oa
2
3
2Oa
1
a
3
cos(2Ot 2f)
a
2
1
a
2
3
2a
1
a
3
cos(2Ot 2f)
- O
2Oa
3
a
1
cos(2Ot 2f); (14e)
3a
8o
_ _
2
a
6
1

3as
4o
a
4
1
(s
2
B
2
o
2
)a
2
1

F
2o
_ _
2
= 0; s Oo; (14f)
f = tan
1
Bo
3aa
2
1
=(8o) s
; (14g)
^ o = o
3a
8o
a
2
1
; (14h)
where f is the phase difference between the forcing function and the response, and B, a, F, and f are constants. The
amplitude a
1
is a nonlinear function of F, B, o, and a, as shown in Eq. (14f) from perturbation analysis [1]. Eq. (14b) shows
that u(t) consists of two synchronous harmonics (i.e., reaching maxima at the same time), but, because a
1
ba
3
, u(t) would
appear as one distorted harmonic (i.e., a harmonic with time-varying amplitude and frequency) with an amplitude a and a
frequency O
_
varying at a frequency 2O. This phenomenon can be used to determine the order (cubic or other) of
nonlinearity. Moreover, if a40, a
3
/a
1
40; O
_
and a are at their maxima when u(t) is at its maxima or minima. If ao0, a
3
/
a
1
o0;and O
_
and a are at their minima when u(t) is at its maxima or minima. This phenomenon can be used to determine
the type (hardening or softening) of nonlinearity, and the magnitude of nonlinearity can be estimated using Eq. (14b) and
the time-domain data a(t) as a = 32O
2
a
3
=a
3
1
. Moreover, one can use Eq. (14g) to estimate B, use Eq. (14h) to estimate the
undamped amplitude-dependent natural frequency
^
o, and use Eq. (14f) to obtain F and then estimate the mass as m=F
0
/F,
where F
0
is the known excitation amplitude [23].
3. Decomposition of compound signals
Decomposing a dynamic signal into a time-varying amplitude and a time-varying frequency is not always unique
because it is an inverse process and there is only one equation. For example, the following amplitude-modulated signal can
also be expressed as two regular harmonics with constant amplitudes and frequencies, or as a signal with time-varying
amplitude and frequency:
u(t) = (1 e cos 2Ot)cos Ot = (1 e=2)cos Ot (e=2)cos 3Ot = a cos(Ot Y); (15a)
a(t) =

1 e e
2
=2 (e e
2
=2)cos 2Ot
_
; Y(t) = tan
1
e sin2Ot
2 e e cos 2Ot
: (15b)
However, the third form is also exact, and the three different forms have the same period 2p/O. Since the decomposition is
not unique, the question is which form is better for system identication?
Any signal can always be decomposed into components of a complete, convergent set of basis functions.
Because harmonic functions represent the free undamped motion of any physical system described by a linear second-
order differential equation, harmonic functions are important basis functions for analysis of dynamical systems.
Moreover, perturbation analysis of nonlinear dynamical systems reveals that nonlinear vibrations are characterized as
distorted harmonics [23,24]. An independent regular or distorted harmonic should have a positive amplitude
and a symmetric envelope, and independent harmonics behave differently when loading, initial, and/or boundary
conditions change. A signal consisting of multiple independent harmonics may result in a non-periodic signal, a
negative amplitude, and/or an asymmetric envelope, and it is inappropriate to dene its instantaneous frequency
and instantaneous mean. For such a signal, it is better to decompose the signal into independent harmonics before
performing system identication. For example, it is more appropriate to decompose the signal in Eq. (16) into two
components because the combined signal may have a negative amplitude and it is aperiodic if O4o and O/o is an
ARTICLE IN PRESS
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1011
irrational number:
u =
a
2
cos(Oo)t
a
2
cos(Oo)t = a cos(ot)cos(Ot): (16)
Hence, for dynamics characterization and system identication, it is physically meaningful to decompose a dynamical
signal into regular or distorted harmonics with positive amplitudes and symmetric envelopes, and such tasks are exactly
what HilbertHuang transform can provide [13,23].
HilbertHuang transform (HHT) combines the empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and Hilbert spectral analysis for
timefrequency analysis of nonlinear and non-stationary signals. HHT is essentially different from Fourier and wavelet
transforms because it does not use pre-determined basis functions and the conformality between the basis functions and
the signal itself to extract components [1317]. The rst step of HHT is to use EMD to sequentially decompose a signal u(t)
into n intrinsic mode functions (IMFs) c
i
(t) and a residual r
n
as
u(t) =

n
i=1
c
i
(t) r
n
(t); (17)
where c
1
has the shortest characteristic time scale and is the rst extracted IMF. Once the extrema are identied, compute
the upper envelope by connecting all the local maxima using a natural cubic spline, compute the lower envelope by
connecting all the local minima using another natural cubic spline, subtract the mean of the upper and lower envelopes,
m
11
, from the signal, and then treat the residuary signal as a new signal. Repeat these steps for K times until the left signal
has a pair of symmetric envelopes (i.e., m
1K
E0), and then dene c
1
as
c
1
u m
11
m
1K
: (18)
This sifting process eliminates low-frequency riding waves, makes the wave prole symmetric, and separates the highest-
frequency IMF from the current residuary signal. During the sifting process for each IMF a deviation D
v
is computed from
the two consecutive sifting results as
D
v

N
i=1
[c
1k
(t
i
) c
1k1
(t
i
)]
2
=

N
i=1
c
2
1k1
(t
i
)

_
; (19)
where, for example, c
1k
um
11
?m
1k
, t
i
=(i1)Dt, and T(=NDt) is the sampled period. A systematic method to end the
iteration is to limit D
v
to be a small number and/or to limit the maximum number of iterations. After c
1
is obtained, dene
the residual r
1
(uc
1
), treat r
1
as the new data, and repeat the steps shown in Eq. (18) to obtain other c
i
(i=2, y, n) as
c
n
= r
n1
m
n1
m
nK
; r
n1
u(t) c
1
c
n1
: (20)
The whole sifting process can be stopped when the residual r
n
(=r
n1
c
n
) becomes a monotonic function from which no
more IMF can be extracted.
After all c
i
(t) are extracted, one can perform Hilbert transform (see Eq. (3)) to obtain d
i
(t) from each c
i
(t), then dene z
i
(t),
and use Eq. (17) with r
n
being neglected to obtain
z
i
(t) c
i
(t) jd
i
(t) = A
i
e
jy
i
; A
i

c
2
i
d
2
i
_
; y
i
tan
1
d
i
=c
i
;
u(t) = Re
_

n
i=1
[c
i
(t) jd
i
(t)]
_
= Re
_

n
i=1
A
i
(t)e
jy
i
(t)
_
; (21)
where o
i
and A
i
are the time-varying frequency and amplitude of c
i
. The EMD is well known to be low in frequency
resolution, as pointed out in [25]. However, there are several signal-conditioning techniques to reduce this problem [13].
Moreover, if a high-frequency wave is added to the signal, the added wave and the signals discontinuities can be extracted
as the rst IMF. Then the discontinuities can be accurately extracted by subtracting the added wave from the rst IMF, and
this method can be used for noise ltering [23].
4. Numerical results
Signals for different engineering applications cover a wide frequency range. For example, AM radio signals range from
0.535 to 1.705MHz (apart by 10kHz between radio stations), and FM radio signals range from 88 to 108MHz (apart by
200kHz). Because the human audible range is from 20 to 20kHz, stereo audio is often sampled at 44.1kHz, considering the
Nyquist theorem and Shannons sampling theory. Moreover, cell phones operate at around 850MHz. However, after a
mathematical model is derived, one can always normalize the time to make a frequency under consideration to be a
specied low value (e.g., 1Hz), and then vibration phenomena observed on the normalized signal should also exist in the
original signal. To prove this we consider the following nonlinear oscillator:
m

u c
_
u ku kau
3
= m(

u 2Bo
_
u o
2
u o
2
au
3
) = F
0
cos Ot; (22a)
3

u 2Bo
_
u o
2
(u au
3
) = F cos Ot; F F
0
=m: (22b)
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P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1012
If the time t is normalized into a non-dimensional time t using the linear vibration period 2p/o and the displacement u is
normalized into a non-dimensional displacement u

using a characteristic length as


t
ot
2p
; u

: (23a)
Eq. (22b) becomes
d
2
u

dt
2
2B(2p)
du

dt
(2p)
2
(u

3
) = f
0
cos O

t; a

a
2
; f
0

4p
2
F
0
k
; O

2Op
o
: (23b)
Note that Eq. (23b) is equivalent to Eq. (22b) with o=2p and F=f
0
. Eq. (23b) has a linear natural frequency o

= 2p and a
linear period T

= 1 in the normalized time domain. After the answer u

is obtained in the t domain, the actual answer can be


obtained by scaling t and u

back to the time t and the displacement u using Eq. (23a). In other words, the results obtained
by solving Eq. (22b) with o=2p is valid for any value of o if an appropriate scaling is used. Next we simulate the tracking
and extraction of time-varying frequencies and amplitudes of different signals using different methods and compare their
accuracy.
4.1. AM and FM signals
Eq. (24) represents an AMFM signal contaminated by a moving average C
0
and noise, where the number of data points
N=498 and Dt=0.1 are used, and noise is a N1 vector of normally distributed zero-mean random numbers with a standard
deviation of 0.004:
u(t) = C
0
(1 0:3sino
a
t)sin(ot 3cos o
p
t) noise;
C
0
= 0:3(1 e
0:1t
); o = 2p; o
a
= 0:08o; o
p
= 0:05o: (24)
If C
0
=0 and there is no noise, Figs. 1a, b show the signal and its narrow-band Fourier spectrum, Figs. 1c, d and e, f show the
instantaneous frequency and amplitude tracked using the TeagerKaiser algorithm (TKA) and the sliding-window tracking
(SWT), respectively, and Figs. 1g, h show the frequency and amplitude extracted by HHT. Because C
0
=0, one can also use the
time-domain method shown by Eqs. (3)(6b) without using HHT. Eq. (9) shows that TKA always uses four consecutive
samples (u
n2
, u
n1
, u
n
, u
n1
) and predicts the frequency at t
n
=(n1)Dt (instead of t
n1
, i.e., delay by one Dt). The presented
results from SWT use 4 consecutive samples samples (u
n3
, u
n2
, u
n1
, u
n
) and predict the frequency at t
n
(no delay). SWT
can use just three or more points for tracking. Four consecutive local frequencies are used in Eq. (13) (or Eq. (6b) for HHT)
for these three methods to improve the tracked/extracted local frequency. Although TKA and SWT are derived by assuming
the processed signal to be harmonic, they adapt during tracking and are able to track time-varying frequencies and
amplitudes, as shown in Figs. 1cf. Both TKA and SWT have about the same level but different types of errors. Figs. 1g, h
show that the time-varying frequency and amplitude extracted by HHT are accurate everywhere except at the two ends,
which is due to Gibbs phenomenon in the time domain and leakage in the frequency domain caused by the discontinuity
u
N1
au
1
. There are methods for alleviation of the end effect in HHT [13,23], but this is not the main concern of this work
and is not presented here.
If C
0
=0 but the noise is added, Figs. 2ad and e, f show the instantaneous frequencies and amplitudes tracked by TKA and
SWT, and those extracted by HHT, respectively. Because TKA uses a nite-difference scheme (see Eq. (9)) that does not
preserve the harmonic wave form to t four recent samples, its accuracy is seriously reduced by noise, as revealed in Figs.
2a, b. On the other hand, Figs. 2c, d show that, because SWT insists on the use of a harmonic wave form (see Eq. (10)) to t
four recent samples, it can lter out some noise. However, because of the insistence of a harmonic wave form, the step-
shape errors happen twice per cycle in the tracked frequency and amplitude. Moreover, because the rst frequency in SWT
is estimated using TKA, it affects the accuracy of SWT at the beginning. Figs. 2e, f show that the frequency and amplitude
extracted by HHT are accurate because noise is signicantly averaged out by the convolution computation (see Eq. (2)) over
the long sampled period T(E50S). However, the end effect caused by u
N1
au
1
still exists.
If both C
0
and noise are added, Fig. 3a shows the signal, Figs. 3b, e and f show the moving average C
0
, frequency, and
amplitude tracked by SWT, respectively and Figs. 3c, d show the frequency and amplitude tracked by TKA. Because a four-
point window length is not able to enforce orthogonality among C
1
, D
1
, and C
0
in Eq. (10), the C
0
tracked by SWT is not very
accurate but it is good enough for SWT to accurately track the frequency and amplitude, as shown in Figs. 3e, f. On the other
hand, Figs. 3c, d show that the small moving average C
0
totally destroys the tracking accuracy of TKA. Figs. 3g, h show the
time-varying frequency and amplitude of the rst intrinsic mode function (IMF) extracted from HHT analysis, respectively.
During the sifting process for the rst IMF, the signals upper and lower envelopes are not accurately determined because
the sampling interval Dt is not small enough to accurately show the signals peaks and/or because the moving average
changes the locations of peaks, and hence errors exist also at points away from two data ends. This type of error can be
reduced by using a smaller Dt, and the end effect can be reduced by extending the left end to begin from zero and the right
end to end with zero or other methods [23]. For example, Fig. 4 shows the time-varying frequency and amplitude are
accurately extracted by HHT when Dt=0.05S is used and the two ends are extended to begin and end with zero.
ARTICLE IN PRESS
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1013
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 1. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eq. (24) without C
0
and noise: (a) u, (b) spectrum, (c, d) from TKA, (e, f) from SWT, and (g, h)
from HHT. The thin curves represent the exact time-varying frequency and amplitude.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1014
Frequency tracking using TKA or SWT can start after four data points are available. However, TKA works only for a signal
with no moving average and noise. On the other hand, SWT works for a signal with any non-zero moving average and noise
and is more robust, but it depends on TKA for the rst frequency estimation. After the fourth data point, SWT can use only
three recent data points for frequency tracking, but using more data points can eliminate more noise. Because HHT suffers
from the end effect, it is more appropriate for frequency extraction (instead of tracking) because it requires a long window
length in order to reduce the edge effect. Hence, if the sampling frequency and the number of data points used for
frequency tracking are xed, TKA and SWT are good for tracking high-frequency signals, and HHT is good for extracting
low-frequency signals.
Measurement noise may come from different sources. If the measurement noise does not change with Dt, numerical
simulations show that the tracking accuracy of SWT and TKA increases when the window length is equal to or greater than
one quarter of the signals period. (To cover one quarter of a signals period with xed three or four data points, one can
downsample the recent available data.) On the other hand, if the window length is too long, the computed frequency is an
average over the window length, not the instantaneous frequency. Under these constraints, SWT and TKA are not good at
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 2. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eq. (24) withoutC
0
: (a, b) from TKA, (c, d) from SWT, and (e, f) from HHT. The thin curves
represent the exact time-varying frequency and amplitude.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1015
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 3. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eq. (24): (a) u, (b) C
0
from SWT, (c, d) from TKA, (e, f) from SWT, and (g, h) from HHT. The
thin curves represent the exact time-varying frequency and amplitude.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1016
frequency tracking of a signal modulating at a frequency close to or higher than its fundamental frequency, as shown later
in Section 4.3. Fortunately, AM and FM signals for engineering applications often have a carrier frequency ten or more times
of the frequency of the signal to be transferred.
4.2. Vibrato in music
For music composition, synthesis, and performance, vibrato (i.e., frequency modulation) is very important. Because
string music comes from nonlinear vibration of strings and is based on sympathetic resonance, vibrato is even more
important for string music [19]. In order to model and analyze vibrato during notes and in note transition, accurate vibrato
rate (frequency) and vibrato extent (amplitude) are needed. To compare the three methods for tracking/extraction of
frequency and amplitude, we consider the transition of a harmonic modulated around o
1
to another harmonic modulated
around o
2
as
u = acos(
_
t
0
odt) noise = a cos
o
2
o
1
2
t
o
2
o
1
2
t
r
ln
cosh[(t t
a
)=t
r
]
cosh(t
a
=t
r
)

a
v
o
v
sin(o
v
t f)
_ _
noise;
a
a
2
a
1
2

a
2
a
1
2
tanh
t t
a
t
r
_ _
(1 0:2cos(o
v
t));
o
o
2
o
1
2

o
2
o
1
2
tanh
t t
a
t
r
a
v
cos(o
v
t f); (25)
where the number of data points N=5000, Dt=1/5000s, noise is a N1 vector of normally distributed zero-mean random
numbers with a standard deviation of 0.002, the exact time-varying amplitude and frequency are a and o, the fundamental
frequency of the rst note is o
1
=4402p, the frequency of the second note is o
2
=4932p, transition moment t
a
=0.52s,
transition parameter t
r
=0.003s, magnitude of the vibrato a
v
=302p, frequency of the vibrato o
v
=52p, phase on the
vibrato f=p/2, a
1
=1, and a
2
=0.6. Note that tanh[(tt
a
)/t
r
] represents a function that changes from1 to 1 around t=t
a
with
a transition period determined by t
r
.
Fig. 5 shows the tracking/extraction of frequency and amplitude from TKA, SWT, and HHT analyses. The noise causes
errors in Figs. 5a, b from TKA, the discontinuity (u
N1
au
1
) causes the end effect in Figs. 5e, f from HHT, and the magnitude
of error in Figs. 5c, d from SWT is about the same as that in Figs. 5e, f from HHT. The exact time-varying frequency and
amplitude are also plotted in Figs. 5af, but they are covered by the tracked/extracted results. However, zoom-in views
show that, around the transition moment t
a
=0.52s, the HHT results closely follow the exact ones, but the SWT results show
minor step-shape errors (see Figs. 3e, f).
4.3. Nonlinear stationary and non-stationary signals
First we consider the nonlinear oscillator shown in Eq. (14a) with
o = 2p; B = 0:03; a = o
2
=6 = 6:5797; m = 2; F
0
= 20(= Fm); O = o: (26)
Because sinuEuu
3
/6, this system mimics the nonlinear angular vibration of a vertical pendulum subject to a harmonic
tangential force. Direct numerical integrations are performed using the RungeKutta method with Dt=0.05s. The power
spectral density (PSD) in Fig. 6b indicates that the signal in Fig. 6a mainly consists of O and 3O harmonics (and negligibly
small 5O and 7O harmonics). Figs. 6g, h show that the frequency and amplitude modulate at 2O, indicating a cubic
nonlinearity (see Eqs. (14c, e)). Moreover, because the frequency and amplitude are at their minima when u is at its maxima
or minima, ao0. The average amplitude a
1
and the uctuation amplitude a
3
can be calculated from Fig. 6h to be
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 4. Analysis of Eq. (24) using HHT with Dt=0.05s: (a) frequency and (b) amplitude.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1017
a
1
=1.2495 and a
3
=0.0101, and then Eq. (14b) can be used to estimate a = 32O
2
a
3
=a
3
1
= 6:5407. Furthermore,
we obtain f=0.3079 from Fig. 6a and Eqs. (14a, b) and B = [3aa
2
1
=(8o) s]tanf=o = 0:0308 from Eq. (14g)
with s(=Oo). Then Eq. (14f) with s=0 is used to obtain F=10.0405(=F
0
/m) and hence m=F
0
/F=1.9919 is estimated. The
key point here is that all a, B and m can be estimated from just one steady-state response to a harmonic
excitation with OEo. The estimations can be rened if more sets of responses under different F
0
and/or
O are available. Simulations show that the method is very sensitive and reliable because, even if F
0
=1,
the small variations of amplitude and frequency at 2O are still clearly revealed. On the other hand, Figs. 6cf show that
the frequency and amplitude tracked by TKA and SWT are not accurate, especially those from TKA. This is expected
because SWT and TKA are not able to track a signal modulating at a frequency close to or higher than the
fundamental frequency, as discussed in Section 4.1. However, SWT and TKA are able to capture the modulation at 2O,
indicating cubic nonlinearity. Numerical simulations also show that, for an oscillator with quadratic nonlinearity,
SWT and TKA can capture the frequency and amplitude modulation at O (as the corresponding perturbation
solution predicts [23]) although the tracked frequency and amplitude are not accurate. However, the
errors of SWT in Figs. 6e, f can be signicantly reduced by using more data points (e.g., six or eight points) in Eq. (13).
Next we consider the nonlinear oscillator shown in Eq. (14a) with
o = 2p; B = 0:03; a = o
2
=6 = 6:5797; m = 2; F
0
= 0; u(0) = 2; u
_
(0) = 0: (27)
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 5. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eq. (25): (a, b) from TKA, (c, d) from SWT, and (e, f) from HHT.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1018
The two peaks in Fig. 7b indicate the existence of cubic nonlinearity because they are at 0.95 and 30.95Hz. Figs. 7e, f
reveal that the nonlinearity is a softening type because the frequency increases when the vibration amplitude decreases.
For Figs. 7e, f, p=6 is used in Eq. (13) in order to have better accuracy. Although the rst frequency provided by TKA is not
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 6. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eqs. (14a) and (26): (a) u, (b) PSD, (c, d) from TKA, (e, f) from SWT, and (g, h) from HHT.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1019
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 7. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eqs. (14a) and (27): (a) u, (b) PSD, (c, d) from TKA, (e, f) from SWT, and (g, h) from HHT.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1020
accurate, Fig. 7e shows that SWT adapts quickly to the correct frequency. Figs. 7d, f, h show that each method accurately
captures the amplitudes at the peak locations of the signal (thin light curves), but they have different types of errors at
other locations. Moreover, the thin light curves in Figs. 7c, e and g represent the amplitude-dependent natural frequency ^ o
predicted by Eq. (14h). Note that the modulation of frequency at 2
^
o in Fig. 7e indicates cubic nonlinearity (see Eqs.
(14c, e)), but the modulation in Fig. 7g from HHT is not clear. Moreover, the time-varying frequency extracted by HHT
suffers from the serious end effect caused by the big discontinuity u
N1
au
1
. (But this end effect can be reduced by
extending the signal to begin and end with zero as demonstrated in Fig. 4.) Figs. 7c, e show that SWT is more accurate than
TKA for frequency tracking. Moreover, if noise is added to the signal, the accuracy of TKA is totally destroyed, but SWT is
still able to track the frequency and amplitude.
Lastly we consider the following non-stationary system:
m u c _ u rk(u au
3
) = m[ u 2Bo_ u ro
2
(u au
3
)] = F
0
cos Ot;
r =
0:975 0:025tanh
t 7
t
r
for0otr9
0:925 0:025tanh
t 11
t
r
for9ot
;
_

_
o = 2p; B = 0:03; a = 0:1; m = 2; F
0
= 2(= Fm); O = o; t
r
= 0:05: (28)
After integration for 40s using Dt=0.05s, the systems stiffness is reduced by 5% at t=7s and then another reduction of 5% at
t=11s. A normally distributed zero-mean random noise with a standard deviation of 0.0005 is added to the numerically
integrated solution. The PSD in Fig. 8b does not reveal nonlinearity and transient events. Figs. 8c, d show that the accuracies
of frequency and amplitude tracked by TKA are seriously destroyed by the added small noise. However, Figs. 8g, h show that
the frequency extracted by HHT is able to reveal the two time instants of sudden stiffness reduction but the amplitude is
not really able to. Although the two ends of u have been extended to begin and end with zero in order to reduce the end
effect, the end effect still reduces the extraction accuracy of HHT. On the other hand, Figs. 8e, f show that the frequency and
amplitude tracked by SWT clearly reveal the two time instants of stiffness reduction, where p=6 is used in Eq. (13) to reduce
the uctuation of the tracked frequency.
4.4. Discussions
As exampled by Eqs. (14c, e), the frequency and amplitude of a nonlinear dynamical systems response may modulate at
a frequency higher than the fundamental frequency, and SWT is not accurate for such signals. However, if the order of
nonlinearity is known, the accuracy of SWT for frequency tracking can be signicantly improved. For example, if Eq. (10) is
replaced with
u(t) = e
1
cos(ot) f
1
sin(ot) e
2
cos(3ot) f
2
sin(3ot) C
0
= C
1
cos(ot) D
1
sin(ot) C
2
cos(3ot) D
2
sin(3ot) C
0
: (29)
Fig. 9 shows the frequency and amplitudes of the signal in Fig. 6a tracked by SWT. Because the starting data points
frequency is estimated using TKA and is inaccurate, the tracked frequency and amplitudes uctuate at the beginning but
quickly converge to the correct values, i.e., o=2p, a
1
=1.2495, and a
3
=0.01 (see Eq. (14c)). For nonlinear systems with
quadratic nonlinearity, 2o needs to be used in Eq. (29) for the second pair of harmonics. Because there are ve unknowns
in Eq. (29), the number of processed data points, m, needs to be Z5. Unfortunately, when both frequency and amplitude
change with time (e.g., Fig. 7a), this approach cannot accurately track frequencies and amplitudes because the
orthogonality among the ve functions in Eq. (29) cannot be strictly enforced.
To show the convergence of SWT using only three recent data points, we consider the signal u=sin(2pl)noise, where the
number of data points N=4000, Dt=0.0025s, T=10s, and noise is a N1 vector of normally distributed zero-mean random
numbers with a standard deviation of 0.05. By downsampling, the time step can be increased to D

t(= pDt) and hence the


period covered by three data points becomes 2Dt

(= 2pDt). Fig. 10 shows that, when the covered period increases, the
convergence of the mean value is faster than the standard deviation, and the standard deviation is less than 3% (i.e.,
0.03Hz) when the covered period is larger than 0.25s (i.e., 25%).
For a second-order dynamical system, the autoregressive moving average (ARMA) modeling is a popular method for
online system identication. Considering the state at t=t
i1
and using _ u
i1
- (u
i1
u
i2
)=Dt and u
i1
- (u
i
2u
i1

u
i2
)=Dt
2
yields
m u
i1
c _ u
i1
ku
i1
= f
i1
3u
i
= a
1
u
i1
a
2
u
i2
b
1
f
i1
; (30a)
where
a
1
2 c Dt=mx k Dt
2
=m = 1 a
2
k Dt
2
=m; a
2
c Dt=m1; b
1
Dt
2
=m; (30b)
t
i
(i1)Dt, and i=1, y, N. This is the so-called ARMA(2, 1) model. Each of Eq. (30a) requires the use of three consecutive
data points, and it needs at least three such equations (hence at least ve data points). Moreover, the forcing function needs
ARTICLE IN PRESS
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1021
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 8. Tracking/extraction of the frequency and amplitude of Eq. (28): (a) u, (b) PSD, (c, d) from TKA, (e, f) from SWT, and (g, h) from HHT.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1022
to be known in order to estimate a
1
, a
2
, and b
1
. After that, one can use the results to estimate the system parameter using
o
2
=
k
m
=
1 a
1
a
2
Dt
2
;
c
m
=
a
2
1
Dt
; o
2
d
= o
2

a
2
1
2Dt
_ _
2
; m =
Dt
2
b
1
: (30c)
If it is a free vibration (i.e., f
i1
), m cannot be estimated. It is obvious that, if it is a nonlinear system and the form of
nonlinearity (e.g., cubic nonlinearity) is known, the algebraic equations in Eq. (30a) will be nonlinear and are difcult to
solve. Moreover, because nite difference is used, noise would affect the estimation accuracy, as happens to TKA.
5. Concluding remarks
Here we derive and numerically validate a sliding-window tracking (SWT) method that uses only three (or more) recent
data points to accurately track the instantaneous frequency and amplitude of a general noise-contaminated signal with a
moving average. On the other hand, the popular TeagerKaiser algorithm (TKA) requires four recent data points for online
frequency tracking, and it cannot track noise-contaminated signals and signals with moving averages. However, SWT
depends on TKA to provide the rst estimation of frequency in order to start online tracking. For comparison of TKA and
SWT, HilbertHuang transform is used to extract accurate time-varying frequencies and amplitudes. Results show that
SWT is more accurate, versatile, and robust than TKA. However, for a signal with frequency and/or amplitude varying at a
frequency close to or higher than the signals fundamental frequency, the tracking accuracy of SWT decreases. This SWT
method can be used for many applications in online adaptive system control, structural health monitoring and damage
detection, and system characterization.
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 9. Frequency and amplitude of the signal in Fig. 6a tracked by SWT using Eq. (29): (a) the main frequency o and (b) amplitudes a
1
(thick line) and
1.2a
3
(thin line).
1.5
1
0.5
0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
Covered period (s)
S
t
a
n
d
a
r
d

d
e
v
i
a
t
i
o
n
,

M
e
a
n

(
H
z
)
Fig. 10. Convergence of the tracked frequency of a noise-contaminated 1-Hz harmonic using the three-point SWT method, where the broken line is the
mean value and the solid line is the standard deviation.
P. Frank Pai / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 24 (2010) 10071024 1023
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ARTICLE IN PRESS
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