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I find it annoying and confusing when people write "FFT", which stands for "fast Fourier transform", when they really mean "discrete Fourier transform", which is abbreviated "DFT". The FFT is a specific algorithm for computing the DFT. When I see "FFT" in a question, it makes my brain prepare for a discussion about efficient DFT-finding algorithms and computer implementations, but in almost every single case the question asker really just wants to know something about the DFT.

This error is similar to someone asking "How does a Buick work" when they really want to know how any car works.

I'm inclined to aggressively edit posts to fix this, but I wonder what everyone else thinks. Should be try to be consistent and specific about the different meanings of FFT and DFT?

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    $\begingroup$ "Should be try to be consistent and specific about the different meanings of FFT and DFT?" Yes, fix it. $\endgroup$ – endolith Nov 23 '15 at 15:32
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Well, it's a little hard to distinguish between FFT and DFT when common tools such as Matlab only have an fft function and no dft function.

I agree we should distinguish between asking about algorithms and asking about application of algorithms, but I'm not sure what to suggest.

Feel free to edit as you see fit. If someone doesn't like it, they'll possibly reject or revert the edit. That's the nice thing about the way the *.SE network works: you're free to do as you see fit until the community comes together and decides that they'd prefer something else.

I also find it annoying when people say that FFT algorithms only work for signals which are a power of 2 in length, when any number with a prime factorization can be used.

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Google gives four times as many results for "FFT is a transform" than for "DFT is a transform". If that is any indication, people will find the questions and answers easier if "FFT" is retained.

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  • $\begingroup$ Point well taken. I guess FFT is destined to be one of those strings of letters that just isn't an acronym any more. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Nov 11 '15 at 16:20
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I suggest it could be educational, sometimes, not to edit it, but to ask the OP to fix it him/herself. And at least, Matlab has dftmtx.

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