A Challenge for the Machine Learners

A while back I was working with some machine-learning researchers on the problem of carrier-frequency-offset (CFO) estimation. The CFO is the residual carrier frequency exhibited by an imperfectly downconverted radio-frequency signal. I’ll describe it in more detail below. The idea behind the collaboration was to find the SNR, SINR, block-length, etc., ranges for which machine-learning algorithms outperform more traditional approaches, such as those involving exploitation of cyclostationarity. If we’re going to get rid of the feature-based approaches used by experts, then we’d better make sure that the machines can do at least as well as those approaches for the problems typically considered by the experts.

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‘Can a Machine Learn the Fourier Transform?’ Redux, Plus Relevant Comments on a Machine-Learning Paper by M. Kulin et al.

I first considered whether a machine (neural network) could learn the (64-point, complex-valued)  Fourier transform in this post. I used MATLAB’s Neural Network Toolbox and I failed to get good learning results because I did not properly set the machine’s hyperparameters. A kind reader named Vito Dantona provided a comment to that original post that contained good hyperparameter selections, and I’m going to report the new results here in this post.

Since the Fourier transform is linear, the machine should be set up to do linear processing. It can’t just figure that out for itself. Once I used Vito’s suggested hyperparameters to force the machine to be linear, the results became much better:

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