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Many practical problems in signal analysis involve either infinitely long or very long signals where the Fourier series is not appropriate. For thesecases, the Fourier transform (FT) and its inverse (IFT) have been developed. This transform has been used with great success in virtually all quantitativeareas of science and technology where the concept of frequency is important. While the Fourier series was used before Fourier worked on it, the Fouriertransform seems to be his original idea. It can be derived as an extension of the Fourier series by letting the length increase to infinity or the Fouriertransform can be independently defined and then the Fourier series shown to be a special case of it. The latter approach is the more general of the two, but the former is more intuitive .
The Fourier transform (FT) of a real-valued (or complex) function of the real-variable $t$ is defined by
Deriving a few basic transforms and using the properties allows a large class of signals to be easily studied. Examples of modulation, sampling, and otherswill be given.
Note the Fourier transform takes a function of continuous time into a function of continuous frequency, neither function being periodic. If "distribution"or "delta functions" are allowed, the Fourier transform of a periodic function will be a infinitely long string of delta functions with weights thatare the Fourier series coefficients.
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