The output of an LTI system is completely determined by the input and the system's response to a unit impulse.
The output for a unit impulse input is called the impulse response.
Example Approximate Impulses
Hammer blow to a structure
Hand clap or gun blast in a room
Air gun blast underwater
LTI Systems and Impulse Responses
Finding System Outputs
By the sifting property of impulses, any signal can be decomposed in terms of an integral of shifted, scaled impulses.
peaks up where .
Since we know the response of the system to an impulse and any signal can be decomposed into impulses, all we need to do to find the response of the system to any signal is to decompose the signal into impulses, calculate the system's output for every impulse and add the outputs back together. This is the process known as Convolution. Since we are in Continuous Time, this is the Continuous Time Convolution Integral.
Finding Impulse Responses
Solve the system's differential equation for y(t) with
Use the Laplace transform
Apply an impulse-like input signal to the system and measure the output
Use Fourier methods
We will assume that h(t) is given for now.
The goal now is to compute the output y(t) given the impulse response h(t) and the input f(t).
Impulse Response Summary
When a system is "shocked" by a delta function, it produces an output known as its impulse response. For an LTI system, the impulse response completely determines the output of the system given any arbitrary input. The output can be found using continuous time convolution.