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2 System Properties The discussion of properties of systems will be a bit tentative at this point, in part because the notion of a system is so general that it is difficult to include all the details, and in part because the mathematical description of a system might presume certain properties of allowable input signals. For example, the input signal to a running-integrator system must be sufficiently well behaved that the integral is defined. We can be considerably more precise when we consider specific classes of systems that admit particular types of mathematical descriptions. In the interim the intent is mainly to establish some intuition concerning properties of systems in general. We proceed with a list of properties, phrased in the continuous-time case. • Causal System A system is causal if the output signal value at any time t depends only on input signal values for times no larger than t. Examples of causal systems are y (t ) = 3 x(t − 2), y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ ,

−∞ t

y (t ) = x3 (t )

t +1 −∞

Examples of systems that are not causal are y (t ) = x(2), y (t ) = 3 x(t + 2), y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ

• Memoryless System A system is memoryless if the output value at any time t depends only on the input signal value at that same time, t. A memoryless system is causal, though the reverse is untrue. Examples of memoryless systems are y (t ) = 2 x(t ), y (t ) = x 2 (t ), y (t ) = te x (t )

• Time-Invariant System A system is time invariant if for every input signal x(t) and corresponding output signal y(t) the following property holds. Given any constant, to , the input signal x(t ) = x (t − to ) yields the output signal y (t ) = y (t − to ) . This is sometimes called “shift invariance,” since any time shift of an input signal results in the exact same shift of the output signal. Examples of time-invariant systems are y (t ) = sin( x(t )), y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ ,

−∞ t t

y (t ) = 3 x(t − 2)

**Examples of systems that are not time invariant are y (t ) = sin(t ) x(t ), y (t ) = ∫ τ x(τ ) dτ
**

−∞

To check if a system is time invariant requires application of the defining condition. For example, for

bounded-output stable) if every bounded input signal yields a bounded output signal. • Linear System A system is linear if for every pair of input signals x1 (t ). y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ −∞ t Examples of systems that are “nonlinear” are y (t ) = ∫ x 2 (σ ) dσ . the following holds. (This is more concise than popular two-part definitions of linearity in the literature. where to is any constant. Examples of linear systems are y (t ) = et x(t ). with corresponding output signals y1 (t ). for any input signal x(t) such that |x(t)| < M for all t. And taking x2 (t ) = x1 (t ) gives the homogeniety requirement that the response to x(t ) = (b + 1) x1 (t ) should be y (t ) = (b + 1) y1 (t ) for any constant b. where M is a constant. t y (t ) = 3x(t − 2). In detail. y (t ) = cos( x(t )) Remark It should be noted that for a linear system the response to the zero input is the zero output signal. there is aother constant P such that the corresponding output signal satisfies |y(t)| < P for all t. Taking b = 1 yields the additivity requirement that the response to x(t ) = x1 (t ) + x2 (t ) be y (t ) = y1 (t ) + y2 (t ) . For every constant b. x2 (t ) .y (t ) = ∫ τ x(τ ) dτ we consider the input signal x(t ) = x(t − to ) . a system is stable (or bounded-input. the response to the input signal x(t ) = bx1 (t ) + x2 (t ) is y (t ) = by1 (t ) + y2 (t ) . −∞ y (t ) = 1 + x(t ). simply take x1 (t ) = x2 (t ) (so that y1 (t ) = y2 (t ) ) and b = −1 in the definition of linearity. The corresponding response computation begins with y (t ) = ∫ τ x(τ ) dτ = ∫ τ x(τ − to ) dτ To compare this to y (t − to ) . Examples of stable systems are . This gives −∞ −∞ t t −∞ t y (t ) = ∫ (σ + to ) x(σ ) dσ −∞ t − to which is not the same as y (t − to ) = ∫ τ x(τ ) dτ −∞ t − to Therefore the system is not time invariant. To see this. y2 (t ) .6. • Stable System Recalling the definition of a bounded signal in Section1. it is convenient to change the variable of integration to σ = τ − to .

Determining invertibility of a given system can be quite difficult. Since we have not established a class of input signals that we consider for systems. even the issue of “one-to-one” is unsettled. yield identical output signals. what measurements of the . As a final example. t y (t ) = sin(t ) x(t ) Examples of “unstable” systems are y (t ) = et x(t ). And since we have decided to ignore or reassign values of a signal at isolated points in time for reasons of simplicity or convenience. Invertibility of a mathematical operation requires two features: the operation must be one-to-one and also onto. everything is stated in terms of input signals and corresponding output signals. Perhaps the easiest situation is showing that a system is not invertible by exhibiting two legitimately different input signals that yield the same output signal.y (t ) = e x (t ) . nothing is being stated about the internal workings of the system. Finally it is worthwhile to think of how you would ascertain whether a given physical system. and thus the system is not invertible if we consider such input signals to be legitimately different. for which you do not have a mathematical description. y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ −∞ • Invertible System A system is invertible if the input signal can be uniquely determined from knowledge of the output signal. That is. the output signals will be identical. But regardless of the time domain. it is important to note that these are input-output properties of systems. y (t ) = x(t − 2) t2 +1 . Examples of invertible systems are y (t ) = x3 (t ). All of these properties translate easily to discrete-time systems. Little more is required than to replace parentheses by square brackets and t by n. For example. or a corresponding class of output signals. for all t. As another example. the system d y (t ) = x(t ) dt is not invertible since x(t ) = 1 + x(t ) yields the same output signal as x(t). what input signals would you apply. y (t ) = 3x(t − 2) + 4t The thoughtful reader will be justifiably nervous about this definition. If two input signals differ only at isolated points in time. in a benign setting the running-integrator system y (t ) = ∫ x(τ ) dτ −∞ t is invertible by the fundamental theorem of calculus: d t ∫ x(τ ) dτ = x(t ) dt −∞ But the fact remains that technicalities are required for this conclusion. In particular. the issue of “onto” is left vague. y (t ) = x 2 (t ) is not invertible because constant input signals of x(t ) = 1 and x(t ) = −1 . has each of the properties we consider.

response would you take. The demonstration linked below contains a selection of unknown systems and provides a test bed for input-output experiments to check for system properties. and what use you would make of these measurements. System Properties .

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