How we Learned CSP

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 we, as people not machines, learn to do cyclostationary signal processing? We’ve successfully applied it to many real-world problems, such as weak-signal detection, interference-tolerant detection, interference-tolerant time-delay estimation, modulation recognition, joint multiple-cochannel-signal modulation recognition (My Papers [25,26,28,38,43]), synchronization (The Literature [R7]), beamforming (The Literature [R102,R103]), direction-finding (The Literature [R104-R106]), detection of imminent mechanical failures (The Literature [R017-R109]), linear time-invariant system identification (The Literature [R110-R115]), and linear periodically time-variant filtering for cochannel signal separation (FRESH filtering) (My Papers [45], The Literature [R6]).

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.

Continue reading

Useful Signal Processing Blogs or Websites?

Update November 1, 2018: A site called feedspot ( 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!

***             ***             ***

Some of my CSP posts get a lot of comments asking for help, and that’s a good thing. I continue to try to help readers to help themselves. Throughout my posts, I link terms and methods to webpages that provide tutorial or advanced information, and most of the time that means wikipedia.

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.

Continue reading

Comments on “Detection of Almost-Cyclostationarity: An Approach Based on a Multiple Hypothesis Test” by S. Horstmann et al

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.

Continue reading

Cyclic Temporal Cumulants

In this post I continue the development of the theory of higher-order cyclostationarity (My Papers [5,6]) that I began here. It is largely taken from my doctoral work (download my dissertation here).

This is a long post. To make it worthwhile, I’ve placed some movies of cyclic-cumulant estimates at the end. Or just skip to the end now if you’re impatient!

In my work on cyclostationary signal processing (CSP), the most useful tools are those for estimating second-order statistics, such as the cyclic autocorrelation, spectral correlation function, and spectral coherence function. However, as we discussed in the post on Textbook Signals, there are some situations (perhaps only academic; see my question in the Textbook post) for which higher-order cyclostationarity is required. In particular, a probabilistic approach to blind modulation recognition for ideal (textbook) digital QAM, PSK, and CPM requires higher-order cyclostationarity because such signals have similar or identical spectral correlation functions and PSDs. (Other high-SNR non-probabilistic approaches can still work, such as blind constellation extraction.)

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 [5]). Let’s look at pure and impure sine waves, and see how they lead to the probabilistic parameters widely known as cyclic cumulants.

Continue reading

A Gallery of Spectral Correlation

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. 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).

Continue reading

Textbook Signals

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 [11], [16]). 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).

Continue reading