Digital Signal Processing - Causal Systems


Previously, we saw that the system needs to be independent from the future and past values to become static. In this case, the condition is almost same with little modification. Here, for the system to be causal, it should be independent from the future values only. That means past dependency will cause no problem for the system from becoming causal.

Causal systems are practically or physically realizable system. Let us consider some examples to understand this much better.


Let us consider the following signals.

a) $y(t) = x(t)$

Here, the signal is only dependent on the present values of x. For example if we substitute t = 3, the result will show for that instant of time only. Therefore, as it has no dependence on future value, we can call it a Causal system.

b) $y(t) = x(t-1)$

Here, the system depends on past values. For instance if we substitute t = 3, the expression will reduce to x(2), which is a past value against our input. At no instance, it depends upon future values. Therefore, this system is also a causal system.

c) $y(t) = x(t)+x(t+1)$

In this case, the system has two parts. The part x(t), as we have discussed earlier, depends only upon the present values. So, there is no issue with it. However, if we take the case of x(t+1), it clearly depends on the future values because if we put t = 1, the expression will reduce to x(2) which is future value. Therefore, it is not causal.