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Calculate Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) in Python Simulation
July 1, 2024

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This blog performs a simple math derivation for SNR and then verifies the results with a Python simulation.

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Calculating SNR Mathematically

An example received signal x[n] is the addition of the signal s[n] and the noise w[n],

(1)   \begin{equation*}x[n] = s[n] + w[n].\end{equation*}

The SNR of the received signal x[n] is the ratio of the power for the signal P_s to the power of the noise P_w,

(2)   \begin{equation*}SNR_{x} = P_{s} / P_{w}\end{equation*}


(3)   \begin{equation*}P_{s} = \mathbb{E} \{ s[n]  s^*[n] \},\end{equation*}

(4)   \begin{equation*}P_{w} = \mathbb{E} \{ w[n]  w^*[n] \}.\end{equation*}

The expectation operator \mathbb{E} \{ \cdot \} operates as an average or mean. It is assumed that x[n] is N samples long beginning at time n=0, therefore the average signal power (3) can be written according to

(5)   \begin{equation*}\begin{split}P_{s} & = \mathbb{E} \{ s[n] s^*[n] \} \\& = \frac{1}{N} \sum_{n=0}^{N-1} s[n] s^*[n]  \\& = \frac{1}{N} \sum_{n=0}^{N-1} |s[n]|^2.\end{split}\end{equation*}

Similarly, the average power of the noise (4) is 

(6)   \begin{equation*}P_{w} = \frac{1}{N} \sum_{n=0}^{N-1} |w[n]|^2.\end{equation*}

The SNR of x[n] (2) is therefore [Lyons2011, p.875]

(7)   \begin{equation*}SNR_{x} = \frac{\frac{1}{N} \sum_{n=0}^{N-1} |s[n]|^2}{\frac{1}{N} \sum_{n=0}^{N-1} |w[n]|^2}\end{equation*}

which can be written in decibels as

(8)   \begin{equation*}\begin{split}SNR_{x,dB} & = 10\text{log}_{10}\left( SNR_{x} \right) \\& = 10\text{log}_{10}\left( \frac{P_{s}}{P_{w}} \right).\end{split}\end{equation*}

Calculating SNR with Python

Python is used to generate two signals, a BPSK signal and real Gaussian noise. The BPSK signal is generated by the following Python code:

 import numpy as np
numSamples = 4096
symbolMap = np.array([-1, 1])
mapIndex = np.random.randint(0,len(symbolMap),numSamples)
symbols = symbolMap[mapIndex]

The average power of the symbols (5) is calculated and printed by:

 Ps = np.mean(np.abs(symbolMap)**2)
print('signal power = ' + str(np.round(Ps,2)))

which results in:

 signal power = 1.0

The real Gaussian noise is generated by:

 noise = np.sqrt(0.01)*np.random.normal(0,1,numSamples)

The average noise power (6) is calculated and printed by:

 Pn = np.mean(np.abs(noise)**2)
print('noise power = ' + str(np.round(Pn,2)))

which results in:

 noise power = 0.01

The SNR is the ratio of the signal power to the noise power, which is calculated and printed by:

 SNRdB = 10*np.log10(Ps/Pn)
print('SNR (dB) = ' + str(np.round(SNRdB)))

which results in:

 SNR (dB) = 20.0

Figure 1 is an example of s[n], w[n] and x[n] in the time domain as generated by the example Python code.

A BPSK signal s[n], real Gaussian noise w[n], and the received signal x[n] = s[n] + w[n] for SNR = 20 dB
A BPSK signal s[n], real Gaussian noise w[n], and the received signal x[n] = s[n] + w[n] for SNR = 20 dB


This blog provided a simple mathematical backing for how to compute SNR mathematically and then provided Python code for how to generate an example BPSK and then compute it’s SNR.

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