In electronics, control systems engineering, and statistics, the frequency domain refers to the analysis of mathematical functions or signals with respect to frequency, rather than time. Put simply, a time-domain graph shows how a signal changes over time, whereas a frequency-domain graph shows how much of the signal lies within each given frequency band over a range of frequencies. A frequency-domain representation can also include information on the phase shift that must be applied to each sinusoid in order to be able to recombine the frequency components to recover the original time signal.
A given function or signal can be converted between the time and frequency domains with a pair of mathematical operators called a transform. An example is the Fourier Transform, which converts the time function into a sum of sine waves of different frequencies, each of which represents a frequency component. The 'spectrum' of frequency components is the frequency domain representation of the signal. The inverse Fourier transform converts the frequency domain function back to a time function. A spectrum analyzer is the tool commonly used to visualize real-world signals in the frequency domain.
Some specialized signal processing techniques use transforms that result in a joint time-frequency domain, with the instantaneous frequency being a key link between the time domain and the frequency domain.