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.

Continue reading

‘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:

Continue reading

Can a Machine Learn the Fourier Transform?

(Update: See Part 2 of this post at this link.)

Or any transform for that matter. Or the power spectrum? Autocorrelation function? Cyclic moment? Cyclic cumulant?

I ask because the Machine Learners want to do away with what they call Expert Features in multiple areas involving classification, such as modulation recognition, image classification, facial recognition, etc. The idea is to train the machine (and by machine they seem to almost always mean an artificial neural network, or just neural network for short) by applying labeled data (supervised learning) where the data is the raw data involved in the classification application area. For us, here at the CSP Blog, that means complex-valued data samples obtained through standard RF signal reception techniques. In other words, the samples that we start with in all of our CSP algorithms, such as the frequency-smoothing method, the time-smoothing method, the strip spectral correlation analyzer, the cycle detectors, the time-delay estimators, automatic spectral segmentation, etc.

This is an interesting and potentially valuable line of inquiry, even if it does lead to the superfluousness of my work and the CSP Blog itself. Oh well, gotta face reality.

So can we start with complex samples (commonly called “I-Q samples”, which is short for “inphase and quadrature samples”) corresponding to labeled examples of the involved classes (BPSK, QPSK, AM, FM, etc.) and end up with a classifier with performance that exceeds that of the best Expert Feature classifier? From my point of view, that means that the machine has to learn cyclic cumulants or something even better. I have a hard time imagining something better (that is just a statement about my mental limitations, not about what might exist in the world), so I shift to asking Can a Machine Learn the Cyclic Cumulant?

Continue reading