Recall that the Finite Difference Approximation (FDA) defines the elementary differentiator by (ignoring the scale factor for now), and this approximates the ideal transfer function by . The bilinear transform calls instead for the transfer function (again dropping the scale factor) which introduces a pole at and gives us the recursion . Note that this new pole is right on the unit circle and is therefore undamped. Any signal energy at half the sampling rate will circulate forever in the recursion, and due to round-off error, it will tend to grow. This is therefore a potentially problematic revision of the differentiator. To get something more practical, we need to specify that the filter frequency response approximate over a finite range of frequencies , where , above which we allow the response to ``roll off'' to zero. This is how we pose the differentiator problem in terms of general purpose filter design (see §8.6) .
To understand the properties of the finite difference approximation in the frequency domain, we may look at the properties of its -plane to -plane mapping
Setting to 1 for simplicity and solving the FDA mapping for z gives
Under the FDA, analog and digital frequency axes coincide well enough at very low frequencies (high sampling rates), but at high frequencies relative to the sampling rate, artificial damping is introduced as the image of the axis diverges away from the unit circle.
While the bilinear transform ``warps'' the frequency axis, we can say the FDA ``doubly warps'' the frequency axis: It has a progressive, compressive warping in the direction of increasing frequency, like the bilinear transform, but unlike the bilinear transform, it also warps normal to the frequency axis.
Consider a point traversing the upper half of the unit circle in the z plane, starting at and ending at . At dc, the FDA is perfect, but as we proceed out along the unit circle, we diverge from the axis image and carve an arc somewhere out in the image of the right-half plane. This has the effect of introducing an artificial damping.
Consider, for example, an undamped mass-spring system. There will be a complex conjugate pair of poles on the axis in the plane. After the FDA, those poles will be inside the unit circle, and therefore damped in the digital counterpart. The higher the resonance frequency, the larger the damping. It is even possible for unstable -plane poles to be mapped to stable -plane poles.
In summary, both the bilinear transform and the FDA preserve order, stability, and positive realness. They are both free of aliasing, high frequencies are compressively warped, and both become ideal at dc, or as approaches . However, at frequencies significantly above zero relative to the sampling rate, only the FDA introduces artificial damping. The bilinear transform maps the continuous-time frequency axis in the (the axis) plane precisely to the discrete-time frequency axis in the plane (the unit circle).
Delay Operator Notation