Gauss and the History of the Fast Fourier Transform


THE fast Fourier transform (Fm has become well known . as a very efficient algorithm for calculating the discrete Fourier Transform (Om of a sequence of N numbers. The OFT is used in many disciplines to obtain the spectrum or . frequency content of a Signal, and to facilitate the computation of discrete convolution and correlation. Indeed, published work on the FFT algorithm as a means of calculating the OFT, by J. W. Cooley and J. W. Tukey in 1965 [1], was a turning point in digital signal processing and in certain areas of numerical analysis. They showed that the OFT, which was previously thought to require N 2 arithmetic operations, could be calculated by the new FFT algorithm using only N log Noperations. This algorithm had a revolutionary effect on many digital processing methods, and remains the most Widely used method of computing Fourier transforms [2]. In their original paper, Cooley and Tukey referred only to I. J. Good's work published in 1958 [3] as having influenced their development. However, It was soon discovered there are major differences between the Cooley-Tukey FFT and the algorithm described by Good, which is now commonly referred to as the prime factor algorithm (PFA). Soon after the appearance of the CooleyTukey paper, Rudnick [4] demonstrated a similar algorithm, based on the work of Danielson and Lanczos [5] which had appeared in 1942. This discovery prompted an investigation into the history of the FFT algorithm by Cooley, Lewis, and Welch [6]. They discovered that the Oanielson-Lanczos paper referred to work by Runge published at the tu rn of the centu ry [7, 8]. The algorithm developed by Cooley and Tukey clearly had its roots in, though perhaps not a direct influence from, the early twentieth century. In a recently published history of numerical analysis [9], H. H. Goldstine attributes to Carl Friedrich Gauss, the eminent German mathematician, an algorithm similar to the FFT for the computation of the coefficients of a finite Fourier series. Gauss' treatise describing the algorithm was not published in his lifetime; it appeared only in his collected works [10] as an unpublished manuscript. The presumed year of the composition of this treatise is 1805, thereby suggesting that efficient algorithms for evaluating

Citations per Year

153 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 153 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Heideman1985GaussAT, title={Gauss and the History of the Fast Fourier Transform}, author={Michael T. Heideman and Don H. Johnson and Sidney Burrus}, year={1985} }