Convolution Theorem
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Convolution Theorem

In mathematics, the convolution theorem states that under suitable conditions the Fourier transform of a convolution of two functions (or signals) is the pointwise product of their Fourier transforms. More generally, convolution in one domain (e.g., time domain) equals point-wise multiplication in the other domain (e.g., frequency domain). Other versions of the convolution theorem are applicable to various Fourier-related transforms.

Functions of a continuous-variable

Consider two functions and with Fourier transforms and :

where denotes the Fourier transform operator. The transform may be normalized in other ways, in which case constant scaling factors (typically or ) will appear in the convolution theorem below. The convolution of and is defined by:

In this context the asterisk denotes convolution, instead of standard multiplication. The tensor product symbol is sometimes used instead.

The convolution theorem states that:[1][a]





Applying the inverse Fourier transform , produces the corollary:[b]

Convolution theorem





The theorem also generally applies to multi-dimensional functions.

Multi-dimensional derivation of Eq.1

Consider functions in Lp-space , with Fourier transforms :

where indicates the inner product of :     and  

The convolution of and is defined by:


Hence by Fubini's theorem we have that so its Fourier transform is defined by the integral formula:

Note that and hence by the argument above we may apply Fubini's theorem again (i.e. interchange the order of integration):

This theorem also holds for the Laplace transform, the two-sided Laplace transform and, when suitably modified, for the Mellin transform and Hartley transform (see Mellin inversion theorem). It can be extended to the Fourier transform of abstract harmonic analysis defined over locally compact abelian groups.

Periodic convolution (Fourier series coefficients)

Consider -periodic functions and which can be expressed as periodic summations:


In practice the non-zero portion of components and are often limited to duration but nothing in the theorem requires that. The Fourier series coefficients are:

where denotes the Fourier series integral.

  • The pointwise product:

is also -periodic, and its Fourier series coefficients are given by the discrete convolution of the and sequences:

  • The convolution:

is also -periodic, and is called a periodic convolution. The corresponding convolution theorem is:





Derivation of Eq.2

Functions of a discrete variable (sequences)

By a derivation similar to Eq.1, there is an analogous theorem for sequences, such as samples of two continuous functions, where now denotes the discrete-time Fourier transform (DTFT) operator. Consider two sequences and with transforms and :

The § Discrete convolution of and is defined by:

The convolution theorem for discrete sequences is:[2][c]





Periodic convolution

Consider -periodic sequences and :


In practice the non-zero portion of components and are often limited to duration but nothing in the theorem requires that. The discrete convolution:

is also -periodic, and is called a periodic convolution. In this case, the operator can be redefined as the much simpler -length Discrete Fourier transform (DFT). And the corresponding theorem is:[3][d]





And therefore:





For and sequences whose non-zero duration is less than or equal to N, a final simplification is:

This form is especially useful for implementing a numerical convolution on a computer. (see § Fast convolution algorithms) Under certain conditions, a sub-sequence of is equivalent to linear (aperiodic) convolution of and which is usually the desired result. (see § Example)

Derivations of Eq.4

A time-domain derivation proceeds as follows:

A frequency-domain derivation follows from § Periodic data, which indicates that the DTFTs can be written as:

The product with is thereby reduced to a discrete-frequency function:

where the equivalence of and follows from § Sampling the DTFT. Therefore, the equivalence of (5a) and (5b) requires:

We can also compute the inverse DTFT of (5b):

Convolution theorem for inverse Fourier transform

There is also a convolution theorem for the inverse Fourier transform:

so that

Convolution theorem for tempered distributions

The convolution theorem extends to tempered distributions. Here, is an arbitrary tempered distribution (e.g. the Dirac comb)

but must be "rapidly decreasing" towards and in order to guarantee the existence of both, convolution and multiplication product. Equivalently, if is a smooth "slowly growing" ordinary function, it guarantees the existence of both, multiplication and convolution product. .[4][5][6]

In particular, every compactly supported tempered distribution, such as the Dirac Delta, is "rapidly decreasing". Equivalently, bandlimited functions, such as the function that is constantly are smooth "slowly growing" ordinary functions. If, for example, is the Dirac comb both equations yield the Poisson Summation Formula and if, furthermore, is the Dirac delta then is constantly one and these equations yield the Dirac comb identity.

See also


  1. ^ Proof:

Page citations

  1. ^ Weisstein, eq (8).
  2. ^ Weisstein, eqs (7) and (10).
  3. ^ Oppenheim and Schafer, p 60 (2.169).
  4. ^ Oppenheim and Schafer, p 548.


  1. ^ McGillem, Clare D.; Cooper, George R. (1984). Continuous and Discrete Signal and System Analysis (2 ed.). Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 118 (3-102). ISBN 0-03-061703-0.
  2. ^ Proakis, John G.; Manolakis, Dimitri G. (1996), Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms and Applications (3 ed.), New Jersey: Prentice-Hall International, p. 297,, ISBN 9780133942897, sAcfAQAAIAAJ
  3. ^ Rabiner, Lawrence R.; Gold, Bernard (1975). Theory and application of digital signal processing. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. p. 59 (2.163). ISBN 978-0139141010.
  4. ^ Horváth, John (1966). Topological Vector Spaces and Distributions. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
  5. ^ Barros-Neto, José (1973). An Introduction to the Theory of Distributions. New York, NY: Dekker.
  6. ^ Petersen, Bent E. (1983). Introduction to the Fourier Transform and Pseudo-Differential Operators. Boston, MA: Pitman Publishing.
  1. Weisstein, Eric W. "Convolution Theorem". From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. Retrieved 2021.
  2. Oppenheim, Alan V.; Schafer, Ronald W.; Buck, John R. (1999). Discrete-time signal processing (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-754920-2.  Also available at

Further reading

  • Katznelson, Yitzhak (1976), An introduction to Harmonic Analysis, Dover, ISBN 0-486-63331-4
  • Li, Bing; Babu, G. Jogesh (2019), "Convolution Theorem and Asymptotic Efficiency", A Graduate Course on Statistical Inference, New York: Springer, pp. 295-327, ISBN 978-1-4939-9759-6
  • Crutchfield, Steve (October 9, 2010), "The Joy of Convolution", Johns Hopkins University, retrieved 2010

Additional resources

For a visual representation of the use of the convolution theorem in signal processing, see:

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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