What are some real world applications of Fourier series? Particularly the complex Fourier integrals?
It turns out that (almost) any kind of a wave can be written as a sum of sines and cosines. So for example, if I was to record your voice for one second saying something, I can find its fourier series which may look something like this for example
and this interactive module shows you how when you add sines and/or cosines the graph of cosines and sines becomes closer and closer to the original graph we are trying to approximate.
The really cool thing about fourier series is that first, almost any kind of a wave can be approximated. Second, when fourier series converge, they converge very fast.
So one of many many applications is compression. Everyone’s favorite MP3 format uses this for audio compression. You take a sound, expand its fourier series. It’ll most likely be an infinite series BUT it converges so fast that taking the first few terms is enough to reproduce the original sound. The rest of the terms can be ignored because they add so little that a human ear can likely tell no difference. So I just save the first few terms and then use them to reproduce the sound whenever I want to listen to it and it takes much less memory.
JPEG for pictures is the same idea.