What is a Fast Fourier Transform?
A fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm computes the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) of a sequence, or its inverse (IFFT). Fourier analysis converts a signal from its original domain (often time or space) to a representation in the frequency domain and vice versa. An FFT rapidly computes such transformations by factorizing the DFT matrix into a product of sparse (mostly zero) factors.
Fast Fourier transforms are widely used for many applications in engineering, science, and mathematics. The basic ideas were popularized in 1965, but some algorithms had been derived as early as 1805. In 1994, Gilbert Strang described the FFT as “the most important numerical algorithm of our lifetime” and it was included in Top 10 Algorithms of 20th Century by the IEEE journal Computing in Science & Engineering.