In general, placing a memoryless nonlinearity in a stable feedback loop preserves stability provided the gain of the nonlinearity is less than one, i.e., . A simple proof for the case of a loop consisting of a continuous-time delay-line and memoryless-nonlinearity is as follows.
The delay line can be interpreted as a waveguide model of an ideal string or acoustic pipe having wave impedance and a noninverting reflection at its midpoint. A memoryless nonlinearity is a special case of an arbitrary time-varying gain . By hypothesis, this gain has magnitude less than one. By routing the output of the delay line back to its input, the gain plays the role of a reflectance at the ``other end'' of the ideal string or acoustic pipe. We can imagine, for example, a terminating dashpot with randomly varying positive resistance . The set of all corresponds to the set of real reflection coefficients in the open interval . Thus, each instantaneous nonlinearity-gain corresponds to some instantaneously positive resistance . The whole system is therefore passive, even as changes arbitrarily (while remaining positive). (It is perhaps easier to ponder a charged capacitor terminated on a randomly varying resistor .) This proof method immediately extends to nonlinear feedback around any transfer function that can be interpreted as the reflectance of a passive physical system, i.e., any transfer function for which the gain is bounded by 1 at each frequency, viz., .
The finite-sampling-rate case can be embedded in a passive infinite-sampling-rate case by replacing each sample with a constant pulse lasting seconds (in the delay line). The continuous-time memoryless nonlinearity is similarly a held version of the discrete-time case . Since the discrete-time case is a simple sampling of the (passive) continuous-time case, we are done.
Cubic Soft-Clipper Spectrum