I continue with my foray into machine learning (ML) by considering whether we can use widely available ML tools to create a machine that can output accurate power spectrum estimates. Previously we considered the perhaps simpler problem of learning the Fourier transform. See here and here.
Along the way I’ll expose my ignorance of the intricacies of machine learning and my apparent inability to find the correct hyperparameter settings for any problem I look at. But, that’s where you come in, dear reader. Let me know what to do!
This post is just a blog post. Just some guy on the internet thinking out loud. If you have relevant thoughts or arguments you’d like to advance, please leave them in the Comments section at the end of the post.
How did this come about? Is it even interesting to ask the question? Well, it is to me. I ask it because of the current hot topic in signal processing: machine learning. And in particular, machine learning applied to modulation recognition (see here and here). The machine learners want to capitalize on the success of machine learning applied to image recognition by directly applying the same sorts of techniques used there to automatic recognition (classification) of the type of a captured man-made electromagnetic wave.
Update November 1, 2018: A site called feedspot (blog.feedspot.com) contacted me to tell me I made their “Top 10 Digital Signal Processing Blogs, Websites & Newsletters in 2018” list. Weirdly, there are only eight blogs in the list. What’s most important for this post is the other signal processing blogs on the list. So check it out if you are looking for other sources of online signal processing information. Enjoy! blog.feedspot.com/digital_signal_processing_blogs
But I’d like to be able to refer readers to good websites that discuss related aspects of signal processing and communication signals, such as filtering, spectrum estimation, mathematical models, Fourier analysis, etc. I’ve had little success with the Google searches I’ve tried.
I recently came across the conference paper in the post title (The Literature [R101]). Let’s take a look.
The paper is concerned with “detect[ing] the presence of ACS signals with unknown cycle period.” In other words, blind cyclostationary-signal detection and cycle-frequency estimation. Of particular importance to the authors is the case in which the “period of cyclostationarity” is not equal to an integer number of samples. They seem to think this is a new and difficult problem. By my lights, it isn’t. But maybe I’m missing something. Let me know in the Comments.
Recall that in the post introducing higher-order cyclostationarity, I mentioned that one encounters a bit of a puzzle when attempting to generalize experience with second-order cyclostationarity to higher orders. This is the puzzle of pure sine waves (My Papers ). Let’s look at pure and impure sine waves, and see how they lead to the probabilistic parameters widely known as cyclic cumulants.
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]).
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. 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 versus the detected cycle frequency (as in this post).
What good is having a blog if you can’t offer a rant every once in a while? In this post I talk about what I call textbook signals, which are mathematical models of communication signals that are used by many researchers in statistical signal processing for communications.
We’ve already encountered, and used frequently, the most common textbook signal of all: rectangular-pulse BPSK with independent and identically distributed (IID) bits. We’ve been using this signal to illustrate the cyclostationary signal processing concepts and estimators as they have been introduced. It’s a good choice from the point of view of consistency of all the posts and it is easy to generate and to understand. However, it is not a good choice from the perspective of realism. It is rare to encounter a textbook BPSK signal in the practice of signal processing for communications.
I use the term textbook because the textbook signals can be found in standard textbooks, such as Proakis (The Literature [R44]). Textbook signals stand in opposition to signals used in the world, such as OFDM in LTE, slotted GMSK in GSM, 8PAM VSB with synchronization bits in ATSC-DTV, etc.
Typical communication signals combine a textbook signal with an access mechanism to yield the final physical-layer signal–the signal that is actually transmitted (My Papers , ). What is important for us, here on the cyclostationary blog, is that this combination usually results in a signal with radically different cyclostationarity than the textbook component. So it is not enough to understand textbook signals’ cyclostationarity. We must also understand the cyclostationarity of the real-world signal, which may be sufficiently complex to render mathematical modeling and analysis impossible (at least for me).
The two non-parametric spectral-correlation estimators we’ve looked at so far–the frequency-smoothing and time-smoothing methods–require the choice of key estimator parameters. These are the total duration of the processed data block, , and the spectral resolution .
For the frequency-smoothing method (FSM), an FFT with length equal to the data-block length is required, and the spectral resolution is equal to the width of the smoothing function . For the time-smoothing method (TSM), multiple FFTs with lengths are required, and the frequency resolution is (in normalized frequency units).
The choice for the block length is partially guided by practical concerns, such as computational cost and whether the signal is persistent or transient in nature, and partially by the desire to obtain a reliable (low-variance) spectral correlation estimate. The choice for the frequency (spectral) resolution is typically guided by the desire for a reliable estimate.
In this post I introduce the spectral coherence function, or just coherence. It deserves its own post because the coherence is a useful detection statistic for blindly determining significant cycle frequencies of arbitrary data records.