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Two algorithms to detect the fundamental frequency of a signal: one in the time domain (Autocorrelation) and one in the frequency domain (Harmonic Product Spectrum / HPS)

Autocorrelation algorithm


Fundamentally, this algorithm exploits the fact that a periodic signal, even if it is not a pure sine wave, will be similar from one period to the next. This is true even if the amplitude of the signal is changing in time, provided those changes do not occur too quickly.

To detect the pitch, we take a window of the signal, with a length at least twice as long as the longest period that we might detect. In our case, this corresponded to a length of 1200 samples, given a sampling rate of 44,100 KHz.

Using this section of signal, we generate the autocorrelation function r(s) defined as the sum of the pointwise absolute difference between the two signals over some interval, perhaps 600 points.

Graphically, this corresponds to the following:

Shifting the signal

Here, the blue signal is the original and the green signal is a copy of the original, shifted left by an amount nearing the fundamental period. Notice how the signals begin to align with each other as the shift amount nears the fundamental period.

Intuitively, it should make sense that as the shift value s begins to reach the fundamental period of the signal T, the difference between the shifted signal and the original signal will begin to decrease. Indeed, we can see this in the plot below, in which the autocorrelation function rapidly approaches zero at the fundamental period.

Autocorrelation function

The fundamental period is indentified as the first minimum of the autocorrelation function. Notice that the function is periodic, as we expect. r(s) measured the total difference between the signal and its shifted copy, so the shifs approach k*T, the signals again align and the difference approaches zero.

We can detect this value by differentiating the autocorrelation function and then looking for a change of sign, which yields critical points. We then look at the direction of the sign change across points (positive difference to negative), to take only the minima. We then search for the first minimum below some threshold, i.e. the minimum corresponding to the smallest s. The location of this minimum gives us the fundamental period of the windowed portion of signal, from which we can easily determine the frequency using


Clearly, this algorithm requires a great deal of computation. First, we generate the autocorrelation function r(s) for some positive range of s. For each value of s, we need to compute the total difference between the shifted signals. Next, we need to differentiate this signal and search for the minimum, finally determining the correct minimum. We must do this for each window.

In generating the r(s) function, we define a domain for s of 0 to 599. This allows for fundamental frequencies between about 50 and 22000 Hz, which works nicely for human voice. However, this does require calculating r(s) 600 times for each window.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Ece 301 projects fall 2003. OpenStax CNX. Jan 22, 2004 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10223/1.5
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