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A new concept of nonparametric signal detection and classification technique is proposed using mutual information measures in the time-frequency domain. The time-frequency-based self-information and mutual information are defined in terms of the cross time-frequency distribution. Based on time-frequency mutual information theory, this paper presents applications of the proposed technique to real-world vibration data obtained from a dedicated condition-based-maintenance experimental test bed. Baseline, unbalanced, and misaligned experimental settings of helicopter drivetrain bearings and shafts are quantitatively distinguished by the proposed techniques. With imbalance quantifiable by variance in the in-phase mutual information and misalignment quantifiable by variance in the quadrature mutual information developed and presented herein, machine health classification can be accomplished by use of statistical bounding regions.