I have implemented the 3Blue1Brown's description of Fourier transform in Python+numpy for irregular and unsorted data, as described here.

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

def polarToRectangular(radii, angles):
    return radii * np.exp(1j * angles)

def frequencyGenerator(time, steps = 100):
    𝛿 = time.max() - time.min()
    M = np.arange(1, steps + 1)[:, np.newaxis]
    return M / 𝛿

def easyFourierTransform(time, values, frequency = None, steps = 100):
    if frequency is None:            
        ft = frequencyGenerator(time, steps)
        frequency = ft.reshape(ft.shape[0])
        ft = frequency[:, np.newaxis]

    # sorting the inputs
    order = np.argsort(time)
    ts = np.array(time)[order]
    Xs = np.array(values)[order]

    𝜃 = (ts - time.min()) * 2 * np.pi * ft
    Y = polarToRectangular(Xs, 𝜃)[:, :-1] * np.diff(ts)
    amplitude = np.abs(Y.sum(axis=1))
    return frequency, amplitude

I'm thinking maybe I can suggest this to be added to numpy/scypy. However, I'm not sure if this small piece of code is qualified to be added upstream. I was wondering if you could help me know:

  • Is this code correct? Does it actually return the Fourier transform? I want to be sure there are no logical errors.
  • Is this a performant code or there is any way to improve performance?
  • Is the formating good enough? Should I comply with PEP8 standard or numpy/scipy require different best practices?
  • Is this novel or it has been done before? (not necessarily relevant to this forum but still my question)

Keywords: nonuniform, uniformly, unevenly, sampled, distributed

P.S. Updated version of the code plus examples in this Jupyter notebook.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ scipy has contribution guidelines, describing what they expect from new code contributions. PEP8 conformance is one of the requirements listed there. \$\endgroup\$ – AlexV Oct 21 '19 at 11:50

As I already mentioned in a comment below your question, scipy has contribution guidelines that tell you what they expect from your code before even thinking about including it into scipy. The major keywords are:

  1. Unit tests
  2. Documentation
  3. Code style


The first point of this list would also help you to answer your question about the algorithm's correctness automatically. This answers to What data should I use to test an FFT implementation, and what accuracy should I expect? on the Signal Processing Stack Exchange can help you to get an idea on how that might look like. The documentation of the relevant functions (e.g. numpy.fft.fft) in the scipy stack and their associated tests can provide further hints. Since my knowledge on FT, DFT, FFT, WTF (;-) ), and the likes is a bit "rusty", you maybe have to look for ressources more appropriately matching what you intend to do.


The documentation part is comparatevely simple. Again, there are guidelines on how to document code associated with the scientific Python stack (everything surrounding numpy/scipy). An example:

def polar_to_complex(radii, angles):
    """Return r-phi coordinates to complex numbers

    radii, angles: array_like
        radial and angular component of the polar coordinates. Both input have
        to have the same shape

    out: ndarray
        complex representation of the given r-phi coordinates
    return radii * np.exp(1j * angles)

This is also commonly called numpydoc oder NumPy-style documentation. It's a very feature rich style and I highly recommend to have a look at the ressource linked above to learn more.

Regarding type annotations: they are just that, annotations or hints. They are not checked during runtime, i.e. the Python interpreter does not care about your carefully crafted type hints. Static code analysis tools like mypy and pylint are the tools that would make use of them to tell you about flaws that can be checked without actually running your code, hence the name "static code analysis". If you really want to make sure that all the inputs are how you expect them to be, you will have to write your own validation code raising appropriate exceptions at runtime to tell whoever uses your library incorrectly that they're doing so.


The contribution guidelines clearly describe that your code is supposed to conform to PEP 8 conventions. There is also a hint to use automatic tooling in order to check your code in that regard. In case you don't like there suggestion on what tool to use, fear not! This answer on Code Review meta lists quite a few other tools that can help you in your endeavours to write beautiful Python code. Among others, they should tell you to use lower_case_with_underscore names for function and variable names, avoid whitespace around = when used in keyword-arguments, and that there should be two blank lines between functions at the module level.


I have not actively checked the performance of your implementation compared to what's already implemented in numpy/scipy, but from my experience and since Fourier transformations are a very widely used tool, I highly suspect that such a simple implementation will be no match for current state-of-the-art implementations likely present in numpy/scipy. As I said, I did not check, so I might be wrong here.

If I were to guess, sorting is likely the single most costly operation in your algorithm, but again I have not measured it. If you are willing to look into this, cProfile and timeit are likely the modules to look at.

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