# Find when two lists are parallel with autocorrelation

I am working on a signal processing project with two oscillators. The first oscillator has a frequency $f_1$ that is independent, and the second oscillator has a frequency $f_2$ that increases, and will become 'frequency entrained' (i.e., 'synchronized', or 'phase locked') when its near to $f_1$.

The best way to determine if the two oscillators are phase locked is to compare the phases of both signals. The real data is messy and a bit cumbersome, but a minimum working example might be two data sets like this:

phases1 = {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20}
phases2 = {0., 0.5, 1., 1.5, 2., 2.5, 3., 3.5, 4., 4.5, 5., 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12.5, 14.5, 16.5, 18.5} There is a spot in the middle where the two lines are parallel. One way to find where they are parallel is to take the derivative of both lists and subtract:

Differences[phases1] - Differences[phases2]


And then use a list manipulation function to locate the zeros. However, for the system I am working with, this isn't good enough because of noise and other issues. Is there a better way to determine when two lists are parallel in mathematica?

Should I use autocorrelation or some other function?

• Does Differences[phases1] - Differences[phases2] work when filtering the data (for example low-pass-filter to remove some noise) to a sufficient degree? – Sascha Dec 23 '15 at 20:21
• It does identify the region where synchronization occurs, but not the whole region. It misses a significant percentage of the ends. It is important to know when the synchronization begins. – axsvl77 Dec 23 '15 at 20:29
• Have you tried both filtering the data and afterwards using Differences and using a Filter on the difference of the signals? – Sascha Dec 23 '15 at 20:31
• You might consider asking this question on Cross Validated as a statistical approach that treats this as a model fitting task that gives you estimates of precision for the starting and ending points of the synchronization. – JimB Dec 23 '15 at 22:07
• Without a meaningful noise estimate, we can only guess at what you're seeing. An observation: If you subtract, phases1 - phases2, the parallel segment becomes the constant segment. Detecting constant segments is, perhaps, easier to do. (It's samples 12-17.) But in the face of noise, "Where does the character of the difference trace change from rising to flat and then again from flat to falling?" cannot have a sharp answer. To make confidence claims requires a noise model and a signal model. – Eric Towers Dec 24 '15 at 1:11

Here is the basic analog engineer approach. Multiply the outputs of your oscillators and apply a lowpass filter:

    phases1 = {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,
17, 18, 19, 20}
phases2 = {0, 0.5, 1., 1.5, 2., 2.5, 3., 3.5, 4., 4.5, 5., 5.5, 6.5,
7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12.5, 14.5, 16.5, 18.5}

k = 10; (* k = it scales the frequencies; your frequencies are certainly
different; can be a problem *)

(* ouputs of the oscillators :*)
osc1output[t_] =
Sin[k Interpolation[phases1, InterpolationOrder -> 1][t]];
osc2output[t_] =
Sin[k Interpolation[phases2, InterpolationOrder -> 1][t]];
tfin = 18.4;

(* graphics rendering : *)
options = {Frame -> True, ImageSize -> 300, Axes -> False,
Column[{Plot[osc1output[t], {t, 1, tfin}, Evaluate @ options,
FrameLabel -> {"time", "", Style["osc1output", FontSize -> 20]}],
Plot[osc2output[t], {t, 1, tfin}, Evaluate @ options,
FrameLabel -> {"time", "", Style["osc2output", FontSize -> 20]}],
Plot[osc1output[t]* osc2output[t], {t, 1, tfin}, Evaluate @ options,
FrameLabel -> {"time", "",
Style["osc1output * osc2output", FontSize -> 20]}]},
Dividers -> None] Low pass filter, adjusted a posteriori:

mySampleRate = 100; (* should be larger than your frequencies, say at least
ten times *)
l1 = Table[osc1output[t] osc2output[t], {t, 1, tfin, 1./mySampleRate}];
Manipulate[
ListPlot[LowpassFilter[l1, ωc, n, SampleRate -> mySampleRate],
PlotRange -> {Automatic, {-1, 1}},
DataRange -> {1, tfin}], {{ωc, 8.2}, 0, 100}, {{n, 139}, 0,
400, 1}] When the frequencies are the same, the filtered signal is constant, and not necessarily zero (here, it's a coincidence).

• I would certainly take the same route, but did you try with noise? – sebhofer Dec 24 '15 at 9:32
• I tried this and it works very nicely, along with a moving average. – axsvl77 Dec 26 '15 at 21:07

This is very similar to eldo's answer, but IMO a little more robust.

data1 = Range[0, 20];
data2 = Join[Range[0., 5.5, .5], Range[6.5, 10.5], Range[12.5, 18.5, 2.]];

getIndices[data1_, data2_, threshold_: 1.*^-3] :=
Module[{indices},
indices =
MapIndexed[
If[Abs[#1] < threshold, #2, Nothing] &,
Append[indices, Last[indices] + 1]]

With[{indices = getIndices[data1, data2]},
ListLinePlot[
{Transpose[{data1, data1}],
Transpose[{data1, data2}],
Transpose[{Flatten[indices] - 1, Extract[data2, indices]}]},
AspectRatio -> Automatic,
PlotStyle -> {Automatic, Automatic, AbsoluteThickness}]] p1 =
{0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20};


p2 =
{0., 0.5, 1., 1.5, 2., 2.5, 3., 3.5, 4., 4.5, 5., 5.5, 6.6, 7.4,
8.5, 9.51, 10.45, 12.5, 14.5, 16.5, 18.5};

dif = Abs[Differences@p1 - Differences@p2];


Position of differences <= n to allow for noise

pos = Position[dif, a_Real /; a <= 0.25];


"Parallel" section

p3 = Transpose[{Flatten@pos, Extract[p2, pos]}]

ListLinePlot[{p1, p2, p3},
GridLines -> Automatic,
PlotStyle -> {Automatic, Automatic, Thickness@0.015}] • without trying this approach I guess it only works for minimal noise (as one can see, even in the chosen example some piece of the parallel slope is left ) – Sascha Dec 23 '15 at 21:20