Bilinear transform

Bilinear transform

The bilinear transform (also known as Tustin's method) is used in digital signal processing and discrete-time control theory to transform continuous-time system representations to discrete-time and vice versa. The bilinear transform is a conformal mapping, often used to convert a transfer function H_a(s) of a linear, time-invariant (LTI) filter in the continuous-time domain (often called an analog filter) to a transfer function H_d(z) of a linear, shift-invariant filter in the discrete-time domain (often called a digital filter although there are analog filters constructed with charge-coupled devices that are discrete-time filters). It maps positions on the j omega axis, Re [s] =0 , in the s-plane to the unit circle, |z| = 1 , in the z-plane. Other bilinear transforms can be used to warp the frequency response of any discrete-time linear system (e.g., to approximate the human auditory's non-linear frequency resolution) and are implementable in the discrete domain by replacing a system's unit delays left( z^{-1} ight) with first order all-pass filters.

The transform preserves stability and maps every point of the frequency response of the continuous-time filter, H_a(j omega_a) to a corresponding point in the frequency response of the discrete-time filter, H_d(e^{j omega_d T}) although to a somewhat different frequency, as shown in the Frequency Warping section below. This means that for every feature that one sees in the frequency response of the analog filter, there is a corresponding feature, with identical gain and phase shift, in the frequency response of the digital filter but, perhaps, at a somewhat different frequency. This is barely noticeable at low frequencies but is quite evident at frequencies close to the Nyquist frequency.

The bilinear transform is a first-order approximation of the natural logarithm function that is an exact mapping of the z-plane to the s-plane. When the Laplace transform is performed on a discrete-time signal (with each element of the discrete-time sequence attached to a correspondingly delayed unit impulse), the result is precisely the Z transform of the discrete-time sequence with the substitution of

:egin{align}z &= e^{sT} \ &= frac{e^{sT/2{e^{-sT/2 \ &approx frac{1 + s T / 2}{1 - s T / 2}end{align}

where T is the sample time (the reciprocal of the sampling frequency) of the discrete-time filter. The above bilinear approximation can be solved for s or a similar approximation for s = (1/T) ln(z) can be performed.

The inverse of this mapping (and its first-order bilinear approximation) is

:egin{align}s &= frac{1}{T} ln(z) \ &= frac{2}{T} left [frac{z-1}{z+1} + frac{1}{3} left( frac{z-1}{z+1} ight)^3 + frac{1}{5} left( frac{z-1}{z+1} ight)^5 + frac{1}{7} left( frac{z-1}{z+1} ight)^7 + cdots ight] \ &approx frac{2}{T} frac{z - 1}{z + 1} \ &approx frac{2}{T} frac{1 - z^{-1{1 + z^{-1end{align}

The bilinear transform essentially uses this first order approximation and substitutes into the continuous-time transfer function, H_a(s)

:s leftarrow frac{2}{T} frac{z - 1}{z + 1}.

That is

:H_d(z) = H_a(s) igg|_{s = frac{2}{T} frac{z - 1}{z + 1= H_a left( frac{2}{T} frac{z-1}{z+1} ight).

The bilinear transform is a special case of a conformal mapping, namely, the Möbius transformation defined as

:z^{prime} = frac{a z + b}{c z + d}.

Stability and minimum-phase property preserved

A continuous-time filter is stable if the poles of its transfer function fall in the left half of the complex s-plane. A discrete-time filter is stable if the poles of its transfer function fall inside the unit circle in the complex z-plane. The bilinear transform maps the left half of the complex s-plane to the interior of the unit circle in the z-plane. Thus filters designed in the continuous-time domain that are stable are converted to filters the discrete-time domain that preserve that stability.

Likewise, a continuous-time filter is minimum-phase if the zeros of its transfer function fall in the left half of the complex s-plane. A discrete-time filter is minimum-phase if the zeros of its transfer function fall inside the unit circle in the complex z-plane. Then the same mapping property assures that continuous-time filters that are minimum-phase are converted to discrete-time filters that preserve that property of being minimum-phase.


As an example take a simple low-pass RC filter. This continuous-time filter has a transfer function

:egin{align}H_a(s) &= frac{1/sC}{R+1/sC} \&= frac{1}{1 + RC s}.end{align}

If we wish to implement this filter as a digital filter, we can apply the bilinear transform by substituting for s the formula above; after some reworking, we get the following filter representation:


Frequency warping

To determine the frequency response of a continuous-time filter, the transfer function H_a(s) is evaluated at s = j omega which is on the j omega axis. Likewise, to determine the frequency response of a discrete-time filter, the transfer function H_d(z) is evaluated at z = e^{ j omega T} which is on the unit circle, |z| = 1 . When the actual frequency of omega is input to the discrete-time filter designed by use of the bilinear transform, it is desired to know at what frequency, omega_a , for the continuous-time filter that this omega is mapped to.

:H_d(z) = H_a left( frac{2}{T} frac{z-1}{z+1} ight)


This shows that every point on the unit circle in the discrete-time filter z-plane, z = e^{ j omega T} is mapped to a point on the j omega axis on the continuous-time filter s-plane, s = j omega_a . That is, the discrete-time to continuous-time frequency mapping of the bilinear transform is

: omega_a = frac{2}{T} an left( omega frac{T}{2} ight)

and the inverse mapping is

: omega = frac{2}{T} arctan left( omega_a frac{T}{2} ight).

The discrete-time filter behaves at frequency omega the same way that the continuous-time filter behaves at frequency (2/T) an(omega T/2) . Specifically, the gain and phase shift that the discrete-time filter has at frequency omega is the same gain and phase shift that the continuous-time filter has at frequency (2/T) an(omega T/2) . This means that every feature, every "bump" that is visible in the frequency response of the continuous-time filter is also visible in the discrete-time filter, but at a different frequency. For low frequencies (that is, when omega ll 2/T or omega_a ll 2/T), omega approx omega_a .

One can see that the entire continuous frequency range

: -infty < omega_a < +infty

is mapped onto the fundamental frequency interval

: -frac{pi}{T} < omega < +frac{pi}{T}.

The continuous-time filter frequency omega_a = 0 corresponds to the discrete-time filter frequency omega = 0 and the continuous-time filter frequency omega_a = pm infty correspond to the discrete-time filter frequency omega = pm pi / T.

One can also see that there is a nonlinear relationship between omega_a and omega. This effect of the bilinear transform is called "frequency warping". The continuous-time filter can be designed to compensate for this frequency warping by setting omega_a = frac{2}{T} an left( omega frac{T}{2} ight) for every frequency specification that the designer has control over (such as corner frequency or center frequency). This is called "pre-warping" the filter design.

The main advantage of the warping phenomenon is the absence of aliasing distortion of the frequency response characteristic, such as observed with Impulse invariance. It is necessary, however, to compensate for the frequency warping by pre-warping the given frequency specifications of the continuous-time system. These pre-warped specifications may then be used in the bilinear transform to obtain the desired discrete-time system.

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