C++ library implementing a basic median filter. Also compatible with Arduino.
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C++ library implementing a basic median filter. Also compatible with Arduino.


Median filters are useful for smoothing signals which are subject to 'spiky' noise. The basic idea is to maintain a window of n readings and return the median of those n when we want to know the "true" value of the signal.

I did not find any reasonably well-implemented median filter library for Arduino, so I decided to write this one. Along the way, I decided to get some practice with C++ templates since I had never really done anything serious with them before.


Note that this "library" is not Arduino-exclusive; it is just basic C++ and does not use any libraries whatsoever. Copy it into your project and you will be able to use it, guaranteed.

The implementation is entirely contained in the header, MedianFilter.h. It consists of just one template class, MedianFilter.

To instantiate a filter, you need to know two things:

  • The type of the value you want to filter (int, float, uint32_t, etc.)
  • The size of the window you want to maintain.

These correspond to the two template parameters. For example to create a window of 5 ints, you would declare:

MedianFilter<int, 5> mf;

To use your shiny new MedianFilter object, you will employ three simple methods:

  • void addSample(s): Adds the sample s to the window.
  • bool isReady(): Returns true if we have read the necessary number of samples to compute the median.
  • T getMedian(): Returns the median of the window. It will have been pre-computed on the last call to addSample, so it costs nothing to call this several times. Note that nothing useful will be returned if we haven't read enough data, so you should check isReady() first.

Sample code is provided in test.cpp. The sample program obtains 1000 random integers and prints out the median after each reading. Simply compile with g++ test.cpp.

Implementation details

Readings are placed in a circular buffer. The buffer content is copied to a second array, where the median is computed using the quickselect algorithm.

The (average case) complexity is O(n). This could be improved, but given that n is typically quite small I didn't bother. Most existing Arduino-compatible median filters I found were O(n log n), using sorts rather than selects, so this is a small improvement at least in asymptotic complexity.

Note that quickselect does exhibit a pathological O(n^2) worst case. But again, it shouldn't really matter.


The content of this repository is released under the MIT License; see accompanying LICENSE file for details.