# Energy (signal processing)

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In signal processing, the **energy** of a continuous-time signal *x*(*t*) is defined as

## Relationship to energy in physics

Energy in this context is not, strictly speaking, the same as the conventional notion of energy in physics and the other sciences. The two concepts are, however, closely related, and it is possible to convert from one to the other:

- where
*Z*represents the magnitude, in appropriate units of measure, of the load driven by the signal.

For example, if *x*(*t*) represents the potential (in volts) of an electrical signal propagating across a transmission line, then *Z* would represent the characteristic impedance (in ohms) of the transmission line. The units of measure for the signal energy would appear as volt^{2}·seconds, which is *not* dimensionally correct for energy in the sense of the physical sciences. After dividing by *Z*, however, the dimensions of *E* would become volt^{2}·seconds per ohm, which is equivalent to joules, the SI unit for energy as defined in the physical sciences.

## Spectral energy density

Similarly, the **spectral energy density** of signal x(t) is

where *X*(*f*) is the Fourier transform of *x*(*t*).

For example, if *x*(*t*) represents the magnitude of the electric field component (in volts per meter) of an optical signal propagating through free space, then the dimensions of *X*(*f*) would become volt·seconds per meter and would represent the signal's spectral energy density (in volts^{2}·second^{2} per meter^{2}) as a function of frequency *f* (in hertz). Again, these units of measure are not dimensionally correct in the true sense of energy density as defined in physics. Dividing by *Z*_{o}, the characteristic impedance of free space (in ohms), the dimensions become joule-seconds per meter^{2} or, equivalently, joules per meter^{2} per hertz, which is dimensionally correct in SI units for spectral energy density.

## Parseval's theorem

As a consequence of Parseval's theorem, one can prove that the signal energy is always equal to the summation across all frequency components of the signal's spectral energy density.