Cyclostationarity of DMR Signals

Let’s take a brief look at the cyclostationarity of a captured DMR signal. It’s more complicated than one might think.

In this post I look at the cyclostationarity of a digital mobile radio (DMR) signal empirically. That is, I have a captured DMR signal from, and I apply blind CSP to it to determine its cycle frequencies and spectral correlation function. The signal is arranged in frames or slots, with gaps between successive slots, so there is the chance that we’ll see cyclostationarity due to the on-burst (or on-frame) signaling and cyclostationarity due to the framing itself.

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SPTK: Ideal Filters

Ideal filters have rectangular or unit-step-like transfer functions and so are not physical. But they permit much insight into the analysis and design of real-world linear systems.

Previous SPTK Post: Convolution       Next SPTK Post: The Moving-Average Filter

We continue with our non-CSP signal-processing tool-kit series with this post on ideal filtering. Ideal filters are those filters with transfer functions that are rectangular, step-function-like, or combinations of rectangles and step functions.

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Comments on “Deep Neural Network Feature Designs for RF Data-Driven Wireless Device Classification,” by B. Hamdaoui et al

Another post-publication review of a paper that is weak on the ‘RF’ in RF machine learning.

Let’s take a look at a recently published paper (The Literature [R148]) on machine-learning-based modulation-recognition to get a data point on how some electrical engineers–these are more on the side of computer science I believe–use mathematics when they turn to radio-frequency problems. You can guess it isn’t pretty, and that I’m not here to exalt their acumen.

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Stationary Signal Models Versus Cyclostationary Signal Models

What happens when a cyclostationary time-series is treated as if it were stationary?

In this post let’s consider the difference between modeling a communication signal as stationary or as cyclostationary.

There are two contexts for this kind of issue. The first is when someone recognizes that a particular signal model is cyclostationary, and then takes some action to render it stationary (sometimes called ‘stationarizing the signal’). They then proceed with their analysis or algorithm development using the stationary signal model. The second context is when someone applies stationary-signal processing to a cyclostationary signal model, either without knowing that the signal is cyclostationary, or perhaps knowing but not caring.

At the center of this topic is the difference between the mathematical object known as a random process (or stochastic process) and the mathematical object that is a single infinite-time function (or signal or time-series).

A related paper is The Literature [R68], which discusses the pitfalls of applying tools meant for stationary signals to the samples of cyclostationary signals.

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SPTK: The Fourier Series

A crucial tool for developing the temporal parameters of CSP.

Previous SPTK Post: Signal Representations            Next SPTK Post: The Fourier Transform

This installment of the Signal Processing Toolkit shows how the Fourier series arises from a consideration of representing arbitrary signals as vectors in a signal space. We also provide several examples of Fourier series calculations, interpret the Fourier series, and discuss its relevance to cyclostationary signal processing.

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The Ambiguity Function and the Cyclic Autocorrelation Function: Are They the Same Thing?

To-may-to, to-mah-to?

Let’s talk about ambiguity and correlation. The ambiguity function is a core component of radar signal processing practice and theory. The autocorrelation function and the cyclic autocorrelation function, are key elements of generic signal processing and cyclostationary signal processing, respectively. Ambiguity and correlation both apply a quadratic functional to the data or signal of interest, and they both weight that quadratic functional by a complex exponential (sine wave) prior to integration or summation.

Are they the same thing? Well, my answer is both yes and no.

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A Gallery of Cyclic Correlations

For your delectation.

There are some situations in which the spectral correlation function is not the preferred measure of (second-order) cyclostationarity. In these situations, the cyclic autocorrelation (non-conjugate and conjugate versions) may be much simpler to estimate and work with in terms of detector, classifier, and estimator structures. So in this post, I’m going to provide plots of the cyclic autocorrelation for each of the signals in the spectral correlation gallery post. The exceptions are those signals I called feature-rich in the spectral correlation gallery post, such as LTE and radar. Recall that such signals possess a large number of cycle frequencies, and plotting their three-dimensional spectral correlation surface is not helpful as it is difficult to interpret with the human eye. So for the cycle-frequency patterns of feature-rich signals, we’ll rely on the stem-style (cyclic-domain profile) plots that I used in the gallery post.

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CSP Estimators: The FFT Accumulation Method

An alternative to the strip spectral correlation analyzer.

Let’s look at another spectral correlation function estimator: the FFT Accumulation Method (FAM). This estimator is in the time-smoothing category, is exhaustive in that it is designed to compute estimates of the spectral correlation function over its entire principal domain, and is efficient, so that it is a competitor to the Strip Spectral Correlation Analyzer (SSCA) method. I implemented my version of the FAM by using the paper by Roberts et al (The Literature [R4]). If you follow the equations closely, you can successfully implement the estimator from that paper. The tricky part, as with the SSCA, is correctly associating the outputs of the coded equations to their proper \displaystyle (f, \alpha) values.

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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.

Reconsidering my first attempt at teaching a machine the Fourier transform with the help of a CSP Blog reader. Also, the Fourier transform is viewed by Machine Learners as an input data representation, and that representation matters.

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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CSP Patent: Tunneling

Tunneling == Purposeful severe undersampling of wideband communication signals. If some of the cyclostationarity property remains, we can exploit it at a lower cost.

My colleague Dr. Apurva Mody (of BAE Systems, IEEE 802.22, and the WhiteSpace Alliance) and I have received a patent on a CSP-related invention we call tunneling. The US Patent is 9,755,869 and you can read it here or download it here. We’ve got a journal paper in review and a 2013 MILCOM conference paper (My Papers [38]) that discuss and illustrate the involved ideas. I’m also working on a CSP Blog post on the topic.

Update December 28, 2017: Our Tunneling journal paper has been accepted for publication in the journal IEEE Transactions on Cognitive Communications and Networking. You can download the pre-publication version here.

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Automatic Spectral Segmentation

Radio-frequency scene analysis is much more complex than modulation recognition. A good first step is to blindly identify the frequency intervals for which significant non-noise energy exists.

In this post, I discuss a signal-processing algorithm that has almost nothing to do with cyclostationary signal processing. Almost. The topic is automated spectral segmentation, which I also call band-of-interest (BOI) detection. When attempting to perform automatic radio-frequency scene analysis (RFSA), we may be confronted with a data block that contains multiple signals in a number of distinct frequency subbands. Moreover, these signals may be turning on and off within the data block. To apply our cyclostationary signal processing tools effectively, we would like to isolate these signals in time and frequency to the greatest extent possible using linear time-invariant filtering (for separating in the frequency dimension) and time-gating (for separating in the time dimension). Then the isolated signal components can be processed serially using CSP.

It is very important to remember that even perfect spectral and temporal segmentation will not solve the cochannel-signal problem. It is perfectly possible that an isolated subband will contain more than one cochannel signal.

The basics of my BOI-detection approach are published in a 2007 conference paper (My Papers [32]). I’ll describe this basic approach, illustrate it with examples relevant to RFSA, and also provide a few extensions of interest, including one that relates to cyclostationary signal processing.

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Cyclostationarity of Direct-Sequence Spread-Spectrum Signals

Spread-spectrum signals are used to enable shared-bandwidth communication systems (CDMA), precision position estimation (GPS), and secure wireless data transmission.

In this post we look at direct-sequence spread-spectrum (DSSS) signals, which can be usefully modeled as a kind of PSK signal. DSSS signals are used in a variety of real-world situations, including the familiar CDMA and WCDMA signals, covert signaling, and GPS. My colleague Antonio Napolitano has done some work on a large class of DSSS signals (The Literature [R11, R17, R95]), resulting in formulas for their spectral correlation functions, and I’ve made some remarks about their cyclostationary properties myself here and there (My Papers [16]).

A good thing, from the point of view of modulation recognition, about DSSS signals is that they are easily distinguished from other PSK and QAM signals by their spectral correlation functions. Whereas most PSK/QAM signals have only a single non-conjugate cycle frequency, and no conjugate cycle frequencies, DSSS signals have many non-conjugate cycle frequencies and in some cases also have many conjugate cycle frequencies.

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Cumulant (4, 2) is a Good Discriminator? Comments on “Energy-Efficient Processor for Blind Signal Classification in Cognitive Radio Networks,” by E. Rebeiz et al.

Let’s talk about another published paper on signal detection involving cyclostationarity and/or cumulants. This one is called “Energy-Efficient Processor for Blind Signal Classification in Cognitive Radio Networks,” (The Literature [R69]), and is authored by UCLA researchers E. Rebeiz and four colleagues.

My focus on this paper is its idea that broad signal-type classes, such as direct-sequence spread-spectrum (DSSS), QAM, and OFDM can be reliably distinguished by the use of a single number: the fourth-order cumulant with two conjugated terms. This kind of cumulant is referred to as the (4, 2) cumulant here at the CSP Blog, and in the paper, because the order is n=4 and the number of conjugated terms is m=2.

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Machine Learning and Modulation Recognition: Comments on “Convolutional Radio Modulation Recognition Networks” by T. O’Shea, J. Corgan, and T. Clancy

Update October 2020:

Since I wrote the paper review in this post, I’ve analyzed three of O’Shea’s data sets (O’Shea is with the company DeepSig, so I’ve been referring to the data sets as DeepSig’s in other posts): All BPSK Signals, More on DeepSig’s Data Sets, and DeepSig’s 2018 Data Set. The data set relating to this paper is analyzed in All BPSK Signals. Preview: It is heavily flawed.

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Modulation Recognition Using Cyclic Cumulants, Part I: Problem Description and Variants

Modulation recognition is the process of assigning one or more modulation-class labels to a provided time-series data sequence.

In this post, we start a discussion of what I consider the ultimate application of the theory of cyclostationary signals: Automatic Modulation Recognition. My relevant papers are My Papers [16,17,25,26,28,30,32,33,38,43,44]. See also my machine-learning modulation-recognition critiques by clicking on Machine Learning in the CSP Blog Categories on the right side of any post.

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The Cycle Detectors

CSP shines when the problem involves strong noise or cochannel interference. Here we look at CSP-based signal-presence detection as a function of SNR and SIR.

Let’s take a look at a class of signal-presence detectors that exploit cyclostationarity and in doing so illustrate the good things that can happen with CSP whenever cochannel interference is present, or noise models deviate from simple additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN). I’m referring to the cycle detectors, the first CSP algorithms I ever studied.

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Radio-Frequency Scene Analysis

Modulation recognition is one thing, holistic radio-frequency scene analysis is quite another.

So why do I obsess over cyclostationary signals and cyclostationary signal processing? What’s the big deal, in the end? In this post I discuss my view of the ultimate use of cyclostationary signal processing (CSP): Radio-Frequency Scene Analysis (RFSA). Eventually, I hope to create a kind of Star Trek Tricorder for RFSA.

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CSP-Based Time-Difference-of-Arrival Estimation

Time-delay estimation can be used to determine the angle-of-arrival of a signal impinging on two spatially separated signals. This estimation problem gets hard when there is cochannel interference present.

Let’s discuss an application of cyclostationary signal processing (CSP): time-delay estimation. The idea is that sampled data is available from two antennas (sensors), and there is a common signal component in each data set. The signal component in one data set is the time-delayed or time-advanced version of the component in the other set. This can happen when a plane-wave radio frequency (RF) signal propagates and impinges on the two antennas. In such a case, the RF signal arrives at the sensors with a time difference proportional to the distance between the sensors along the direction of propagation, and so the time-delay estimation is also commonly referred to as time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) estimation.


Consider the diagram shown to the right. A distant transmitter emits a signal that is well-modeled as a plane wave once it reaches our two receivers. An individual wavefront of the signal arrives at the two sensors at different times.

The line segment AB is perpendicular to the direction of propagation for the RF signal. The angle \theta is called the angle of arrival (AOA). If we could estimate the AOA, we can tell the direction from which the signal arrives, which could be useful in a variety of settings. Since the triangle ABC is a right triangle, we have

\displaystyle \cos (\theta) = \frac{x}{d}. \hfill (1)

When \theta = 0, the wavefronts first strike receiver 2, then must propagate over x=d meters before striking receiver 1. On the other hand, when \theta = 90^\circ, each wavefront strikes the two receivers simultaneously. In the former case, the TDOA is maximum, and in the latter it is zero. The TDOA can be negative too, so that 180^\circ azimuthal degrees can be determined by estimating the TDOA.

In general, the wavefront must traverse x meters between striking receiver 2 and striking receiver 1,

\displaystyle x = d \cos(\theta). \hfill (2)

Assuming the speed of propagation is c meters/sec, the TDOA is given by

\displaystyle D = \frac{x}{c} = \frac{d\cos{\theta}}{c} \mbox{\rm \ \ seconds}. \hfill (3)

In this post I’ll review several methods of TDOA estimation, some of which employ CSP and some of which do not. We’ll see some of the advantages and disadvantages of the various classes of methods through inspection, simulation, and application to collected data.

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Square-Root Raised-Cosine PSK/QAM

SRRC PSK and QAM signals form important components of more complicated real-world communication signals. Let’s look at their second-order cyclostationarity here.

Let’s look at a somewhat more realistic textbook signal: The PSK/QAM signal with independent and identically distributed symbols (IID) and a square-root raised-cosine (SRRC) pulse function. The SRRC pulse is used in many practical systems and in many theoretical and simulation studies. In this post, we’ll look at how the free parameter of the pulse function, called the roll-off parameter or excess bandwidth parameter, affects the power spectrum and the spectral correlation function.

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A Gallery of Spectral Correlation

Pictures are worth N words, and M equations, where N and M are large integers.

In this post I provide plots of the spectral correlation for a variety of simulated textbook signals and several collected communication signals. The plots show the variety of cycle-frequency patterns that arise from the disparate approaches to digital communication signaling. The distinguishability of these patterns, combined with the inability to distinguish based on the power spectrum, leads to a powerful set of classification (modulation recognition) features (My Papers [16, 25, 26, 28]).

In all cases, the cycle frequencies are blindly estimated by the strip spectral correlation analyzer (The Literature [R3, R4]) and the estimates used by the FSM to compute the spectral correlation function. MATLAB is then used to plot the magnitude of the spectral correlation and conjugate spectral correlation, as specified by the determined non-conjugate and conjugate cycle frequencies.

There are three categories of signal types in this gallery: textbook signals, collected signals, and feature-rich signals. The latter comprises some collected signals (e.g., LTE) and some simulated radar signals. For the first two signal categories, the three-dimensional surface plots I’ve been using will suffice for illustrating the cycle-frequency patterns and the behavior of the spectral correlation function over frequency. But for the last category, the number of cycle frequencies is so large that the three-dimensional surface is difficult to interpret–it is a visual mess. For these signals, I’ll plot the maximum spectral correlation magnitude over spectral frequency f versus the detected cycle frequency \alpha (as in this post).

A complementary gallery of cyclic autocorrelation functions can be found here.

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