ECSE316 Assignment 2: Fast Fourier Transform and Applications


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1 Introduction

In this assignment you will implementtwo versions of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). One
of them will be a brute force approach that follows directly from the formula. The second one will
be an implementation of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) which follows a divide-and-conquer
approach to algorithm design. In particular, the FFT we will focus on is the Cooley-Tukey FFT.

At the end of this lab you should know how to:
1. Implement two types of DFT (naïve and FFT);
2. Understand why one version of the algorithm is better than the other;
3. Extend the FFT algorithm to multidimensional case (2-dimensions in this lab);

4. Use FFT to denoise an image.
5. Use FFT to compress an image file.

2 Background

2.1 The Discrete Fourier Transform
The Fourier transform of a signal decomposes it into a sum of its various frequency components.
However, in the real world a lot of the signals we deal with are either discrete or, even if they are
continuous, can only be approximated via sampling which gives a discretized approximation of the
original signal. To address this, in class we saw how the continuous Fourier transform can be modified
to obtain a discrete version. Recall the DFT and its inverse shown below respectively.

For example, if we have a vector of size 10 and we apply equation (1) we will get another vector of
size 10 at the output representing the DFT where the element of the output at index k will be the
result of the sum Xk.

2.2 The Cooley-Tukey FFT
In 1965 Cooley and Tukey came up with their own algorithm for Xk that takes advantage of the
symmetry of the FT to simplify the algorithmic complexity. The algorithm fits into the divide-andconquer design paradigm that you are familiar with from e.g. mergesort.
Below we give a brief derivation for your understanding.

The proof works as follows:
• Split the sum in the even and odd indices which we sum separately and then put together.
• Factor out a constant by reducing the exponent by one in the second term. This makes the
coefficients the same for both sums so we can have them saved and precomputed in an

• Observe that multiplying by 2 is the same as dividing by a half.
• Finally, notice that the two terms are just a DFT of the even and odd indices which can be
computed as separate problems and then finally summed.

The algorithm works by successively splitting the problem in halves as shown above. Convince
yourselves that this can be done as many times as we want by just applying the same technique to
the even and odd halves to split the problem to 4-subproblems, then 8, then 16…

In practice we would divide a big x array of say size 2048 in two equal parts recursively until the
smaller parts became small enough to compute with the naïve method without suffering large
efficiency penalties.

Although we could divide the problem all the way down to sub-problems of
size 2 there is usually a threshold beyond which splitting the problem creates more overhead than
just computing the FFT directly using the naïve method. The exact size where you choose to stop
splitting the problems does not matter for this assignment as long as the runtime of your FFT is
in the same order of magnitude as what is theoretically expected (more on this later).

2.3 The Two-Dimensional Fourier Transform (2D-DFT)
The 2D-DFT can be thought of as a composition of separate 1-dimensional DFTs. Looking at the
equation we define the 2D-DFT for a 2D sample of signal f with N rows and M columns as:

Note that the term inside the brackets is a 1D-DFT of the rows of the 2D matrix of values f and
that the outer sum is another 1D-DFT over the transformed rows performed along each column.
Similarly, we can obtain the inverse 2D transform, by applying multiple 1D inverse FFTs.

2.4 Summary of background and pre-requisites
Before proceeding with the rest of this lab document make sure you have completed these first
1. You are familiar with basic programming tasks in Python. For this assignment you will
need to use nothing more than loops, if statements and a few libraries which include:
numpy for array manipulation, matplotlib for plotting, and optionally open-cv to
manipulate the assignment’s images. All of these libraries will be used at an elementary
level which is easy to achieve if you don’t know Python as long as you have experience with
another programming language and look up the documentation.

2. You have read the course material on the Fourier transform.

3. You are familiar with the basics of the divide-and-conquer architecture from course
prerequisites such as COMP-250 and COMP-251. If you don’t remember much just
review how mergesort works and its big-O complexity.

3 Lab requirements

Write a program using Python (version 3.5+, no Python 2) that:
• Performs DFT both with the naïve algorithm and the FFT algorithm discussed above.
• Performs the inverse operation. For the inverse just worry about the FFT implementation.
• Handles 2D Fourier Transforms (2d-FFT) and its inverse.
• Plots the resulting 2D DFT on a log scale plot.

For this lab you must use Python. You are not allowed to use any prebuilt FT algorithm, but you may
use external libraries that help you load and save data, manipulate images (cv2), plot (matplotlib or
plotly) and carry out vectorized operations (numpy).

3.1 Calling syntax
Your application should be named, and it should be invoked at the command line using the
following syntax:
python [-m mode] [-i image]
• mode (optional):
– [1] (Default) for fast mode where the image is converted into its FFT form and displayed
– [2] for denoising where the image is denoised by applying an FFT, truncating high
frequencies and then displayed

– [3] for compressing and plot the image
– [4] for plotting the runtime graphs for the report
• image (optional): filename of the image we wish to take the DFT of. (Default: the file name
of the image given to you for the assignment)

3.2 Output behavior
Your program’s output depends on the mode you are running.
For the first mode your program should simply perform the FFT and output a one by two subplot of
the original image and next to it its Fourier transform. The Fourier transform should be log scaled.
An easy way to do this with matplotlib is to import LogNorm from matplotlib.colors to produce a
logarithmic colormap.

For the second mode you should also output a one by two subplot. In this subplot you should include
the original image next to its denoised version. To denoise all you need to do is to take the FFT of
the image and set all the high frequencies to zero before inverting to get back the filtered original.
Where you choose to draw the distinction between a “high” and a “low” frequency is up to you to
design and tune for to get the best result.

Note: The FFT plot you produce goes from 0 to 2π so any frequency close to zero can be considered
low (even frequencies near 2π) since 2π is just zero shifted by a cycle. Your program should print in
the command line the number of non-zeros you are using and the fraction they represent of the
original Fourier coefficients.

For mode three you need to do two things. Firstly, you must take the FFT of the image to compress
it. The compression comes from setting some Fourier coefficients to zero. There are a few ways of
doing this, you can threshold the coefficients’ magnitude and take only the largest percentile of
them. Alternatively, you can keep all the coefficients of very low frequencies as well as a fraction of
the largest coefficients from higher frequencies to also filter the image at the same time. You should
experiment with various schemes, decide what works best and justify it in your report.

Then your program should do the following: display a 2 by 3 subplot of the image at 6 different
compression levels starting from the original image (0% compression) all the way to setting 99.9%
of the coefficients to zero. To obtain the images just inverse transform the modified Fourier

Additionally, your program should print in the command line the number of non zeros that are in
each of the 6 images. This will be useful for your report as it gives you an idea of how much memory
you are saving.

Finally, for the plotting mode your code should produce plots that summarize the runtime
complexity of your algorithms. Your code should print in the command line the means and variances
of the runtime of your algorithms versus the problem size. For more qualitative details about what
you should plot see the report section.

4 Important dates, deliverables, and evaluation
4.1 Report
The code and the report are due at 23:59Nov. 24th and will count for 7.5% of your final grade. The
split for the grade is 60% code – 40% report. Your report should include the following items:

• The names and McGill ID numbers of both group members
• Design: Describe the design of your algorithms

• Testing: Describe how you tested your algorithms to make sure they behave as required
• Analysis: Briefly explain the runtime of the naïve DFT for 1D. Derive and solve the
recurrence for the FFT for 1D to get the runtime complexity. Argue about the 2D
complexity of the two algorithms, (you don’t need to solve the recurrence again an
informal but logically sound argument is enough).

• Experiment:
o Load the image provided to you and get its FFT transform. Plot it next to the
original. Compare your result with the built-in np.fft.fft2 function. Remember to
make your FFT plots log-scaled to improve visibility.

o As explained in the previous section you can use FFT to denoise an image. Try to
denoise the image as much as you can. Produce a few denoised versions of the
image and explain what procedure gives you the best results (i.e. removing high
frequencies or low frequencies, thresholding everything or keeping all the
coefficients below/above a certain cutoff and thresholding the rest?)

o Compression display a 2 by 3 subplot of the image at 6 different compression levels
starting from the original image (0% compression) all the way to setting 99.9% of
the coefficients to zero. You should also note the size of the saved sparse matrix
files for each image and comment on the quality of the reconstruction.

o Plotting for runtime: Create 2D arrays of random elements of various sizes (sizes
must be square and powers of 2). Start from 25 and move up to 210 or up to the size
that your computer can handle. Gather data for the plot by re-running the
experiment at least 10 times to obtain an average runtime for each problem size
and a standard deviation.

On your plot you must have problem size on the x axis and runtime in seconds on
the y axis. You can plot two lines; one for the naïve method and one for the FFT.
Plot your mean runtimes for each method and include error bars proportional to
the standard deviation that represent a confidence interval defined by you. (For
example, you can make it a 97% confidence interval by making the error bar length
be twice the standard deviation).

4.2 Code
When submitting your report on myCourses, you should also upload a zip file containing your code.
Make sure to include all source files required to compile and execute your program. Also include
a readme file giving any special instructions required to compile your code and mentioning what
version of Python you used when writing/testing yourprogram.

5 Additional advice – Important
Before coding make sure you understand the basics of the DFT as well as the basics of python,
numpy and matplotlib. If the image you are given does not have a length or width that is a power
of 2 you can resize it with cv2 or you can pad it with zeros to the nearest power of 2 side length
otherwise the FFT algorithm might not work!
Please remember to start early!