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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CSP Estimators: Cyclic Temporal Moments and Cumulants

In this post we discuss ways of estimating n-th order cyclic temporal moment and cumulant functions. Recall that for n=2, cyclic moments and cyclic cumulants are usually identical. They differ when the signal contains one or more finite-strength additive sine-wave components. In the common case when such components are absent (as in our recurring numerical example involving rectangular-pulse BPSK), they are equal and they are also equal to the conventional cyclic autocorrelation function provided the delay vector is chosen appropriately.

The more interesting case is when the order n is greater than 2. Most communication signal models possess odd-order moments and cumulants that are identically zero, so the first non-trivial order n greater than 2 is 4. So our estimation task is to estimate n-th order temporal moment and cumulant functions for n \ge 4 using a sampled-data record of length T.

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More on Pure and Impure Sine Waves

Remember when we derived the cumulant as the solution to the pure nth-order sine-wave problem? It sounded good at the time, I hope. But here I describe a curious special case where the interpretation of the cumulant as the pure component of a nonlinearly generated sine wave seems to break down.

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Cyclic Polyspectra

In this post we take a first look at the spectral parameters of higher-order cyclostationarity (HOCS). In previous posts, I have introduced the topic of HOCS and have looked at the temporal parameters, such as cyclic cumulants and cyclic moments. Those temporal parameters have proven useful in modulation classification and parameter estimation settings, and will likely be an important part of my ultimate radio-frequency scene analyzer.

The spectral parameters of HOCS have not proven to be as useful as the temporal parameters, unless you include the trivial case where the moment/cumulant order is equal to two. In that case, the spectral parameters reduce to the spectral correlation function, which is extremely useful in CSP (see the TDOA and signal-detection posts for example).

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Cyclostationarity of Digital QAM and PSK

Let’s look into the statistical properties of a class of textbook signals that encompasses digital quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), phase-shift keying (PSK), and pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM). I’ll call the class simply digital QAM (DQAM), and all of its members have an analytical-signal mathematical representation of the form

\displaystyle s(t) = \sum_{k=-\infty}^\infty a_k p(t - kT_0 - t_0) e^{i2\pi f_0 t + i \phi_0}. \hfill  (1)

In this model, k is the symbol index, 1/T_0 = f_{sym} is the symbol rate, f_0 is the carrier frequency (sometimes called the frequency offset), t_0 is the symbol-clock phase, and \phi_0 is the carrier phase. The finite-energy function p(t) is the pulse function (sometimes called the pulse-shaping function). Finally, the random variable a_k is called the symbol, and has a discrete distribution that is called the constellation.

Model (1) is a textbook signal when the sequence of symbols is independent and identically distributed (IID). This condition rules out real-world communication aids such as periodically transmitted bursts of known symbols, adaptive modulation (where the constellation may change in response to the vagaries of the propagation channel), some forms of coding, etc. Also, when the pulse function p(t) is a rectangle (with width T_0), the signal is even less realistic, and therefore more textbook.

We will look at the moments and cumulants of this general model in this post. Although the model is textbook, we could use it as a building block to form more realistic, less textbooky, signal models. Then we could find the cyclostationarity of those models by applying signal-processing transformation rules that define how the cumulants of the output of a signal processor relate to those for the input.

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Signal Processing Operations and CSP

It is often useful to know how a signal processing operation affects the probabilistic parameters of a random signal. For example, if I know the power spectral density (PSD) of some signal x(t), and I filter it using a linear time-invariant transformation with impulse response function h(t), producing the output y(t), then what is the PSD of y(t)? This input-output relationship is well known and quite useful. The relationship is

\displaystyle S_y^0(f) = \left| H(f) \right|^2 S_x^0(f). \hfill (1)

In (1), the function H(f) is the transfer function of the filter, which is the Fourier transform of the impulse-response function h(t).

Because the mathematical models of real-world communication signals can be constructed by subjecting idealized textbook signals to various signal-processing operations, such as filtering, it is of interest to us here at the CSP Blog to know how the spectral correlation function of the output of a signal processor is related to the spectral correlation function for the input. Similarly, we’d like to know such input-output relationships for the cyclic cumulants and the cyclic polyspectra.

Another benefit of knowing these CSP input-output relationships is that they tend to build up insight into the meaning of the probabilistic parameters. For example, in the PSD input-output relationship (1), we already know that the transfer function at f = f_0 scales the input frequency component at f_0 by the complex number H(f_0). So it makes sense that the PSD at f_0 is scaled by the squared magnitude of H(f_0). If the filter has a zero at f_0, then the density of averaged power at f_0 should vanish too.

So, let’s look at this kind of relationship for CSP parameters. All of these results can be found, usually with more mathematical detail, in My Papers [6, 13].

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Conjugation Configurations

When we considered complex-valued signals and second-order statistics, we ended up with two kinds of parameters: non-conjugate and conjugate. So we have the non-conjugate autocorrelation, which is the expected value of the normal second-order lag product in which only one of the factors is conjugated (consistent with the normal definition of variance for complex-valued random variables),

\displaystyle R_x(t, \boldsymbol{\tau}) = E \left[ x(t+\tau_1)x^*(t+\tau_2) \right] \hfill (1)

and the conjugate autocorrelation, which is the expected value of the second-order lag product in which neither factor is conjugated

\displaystyle R_{x^*}(t, \boldsymbol{\tau}) = E \left[ x(t+\tau_1)x(t+\tau_2) \right]. \hfill (2)

The complex-valued Fourier-series amplitudes of these functions of time t are the non-conjugate and conjugate cyclic autocorrelation functions, respectively.

The Fourier transforms of the non-conjugate and conjugate cyclic autocorrelation functions are the non-conjugate and conjugate spectral correlation functions, respectively.

I never explained why both the non-conjugate and conjugate functions are needed. In this post, I rectify that omission. The reason for the many different choices of conjugated factors in higher-order cyclic moments and cumulants is also provided.

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