In this paper, novel methods for the evaluation of digital-filter stability are investigated. The methods are based on phase analysis of a complex function in the characteristic equation of a digital filter. It allows for evaluating stability when a characteristic equation is not based on a polynomial. The operation of these methods relies on sampling the unit circle on the complex plane and extracting the phase quadrant of a function value for each sample. By calculating function-phase quadrants, regions in the immediate vicinity of unstable roots (i.e., zeros), called candidate regions, are determined. In these regions, both real and imaginary parts of complex-function values change signs. Then, the candidate regions are explored. When the sizes of the candidate regions are reduced below an assumed accuracy, then filter instability is verified with the use of discrete Cauchy’s argument principle. Three different algorithms of the unit-circle sampling are benchmarked, i.e., global complex roots and poles finding (GRPF) algorithm, multimodal genetic algorithm with phase analysis (MGA-WPA), and multimodal particle swarm optimization with phase analysis (MPSO-WPA). The algorithms are compared in four benchmarks for integer- and fractional-order digital filters and systems. Each algorithm demonstrates slightly different properties. GRPF is very fast and efficient; however, it requires an initial number of nodes large enough to detect all the roots. MPSO-WPA prevents missing roots due to the usage of stochastic space exploration by subsequent swarms. MGA-WPA converges very effectively by generating a small number of individuals and by limiting the final population size. The conducted research leads to the conclusion that stochastic methods such as MGA-WPA and MPSO-WPA are more likely to detect system instability, especially when they are run multiple times. If the computing time is not vitally important for a user, MPSO-WPA is the right choice, because it significantly prevents missing roots.
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