A Resolution Comparison of Several Time-Frequency Representations

Douglas L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two signal components are considered “resolved” in a time-frequency representation when two distinct peaks can be observed. The time-frequency resolution limit of two Gaussian components, alike except for their time and frequency centers, are determined for the Wigner distribution, the pseudo-Wigner distribution, the smoothed Wigner distribution, the squared magnitude of the short-time Fourier transform, and the Choi-Williams distribution. The relative performance of the various distributions depends on the signal. The pseudo-Wigner distribution is best for signals of this class with only one frequency component at any one time, the Choi-Williams distribution is most attractive for signals in which all components have constant frequency content, and the matched filter short-time Fourier transform is best for signal components with significant frequency modulation. A relationship between the short-time Fourier transform and the cross-Wigner distribution is used to argue that, with a properly chosen window, the short-time Fourier transform or the cross-Wigner distribution must provide better signal component separation than the Wigner distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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