Radio-Frequency Scene Analysis

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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Square-Root Raised-Cosine PSK/QAM

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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CSP Estimators: The Strip Spectral Correlation Analyzer

In this post I present a very useful blind cycle-frequency estimator known in the literature as the strip spectral correlation analyzer (SSCA) (The Literature [R3-R5]). We’ve covered the basics of the frequency-smoothing method (FSM) and the time-smoothing method (TSM) of estimating the spectral correlation function (SCF) in previous posts. The TSM and FSM are efficient estimators of the SCF when it is desired to estimate it for one or a few cycle frequencies (CFs). The SSCA, on the other hand, is efficient when we want to estimate the SCF for all CFs.

See also a competing method of exhaustive SCF estimation: The FFT Accumulation Method.

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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).

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SCF Estimate Quality: The Resolution Product

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, T, and the spectral resolution F.

For the frequency-smoothing method (FSM), an FFT with length equal to the data-block length T is required, and the spectral resolution is equal to the width F of the smoothing function g(f). For the time-smoothing method (TSM), multiple FFTs with lengths T_{tsm} = T / K are required, and the frequency resolution is 1/T_{tsm} (in normalized frequency units).

The choice for the block length T 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.

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The Spectral Coherence Function

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.

Let’s start with reviewing the standard correlation coefficient \rho defined for two random variables X and Y as

\rho = \displaystyle \frac{E[(X - m_X)(Y - m_Y)]}{\sigma_X \sigma_Y}, \hfill (1)

where m_X and m_Y are the mean values of X and Y, and \sigma_X and \sigma_Y are the standard deviations of X and Y. That is,

m_X = E[X] \hfill (2)

m_Y = E[Y] \hfill (3)

\sigma_X^2 = E[(X-m_X)^2] \hfill (4)

\sigma_Y^2 = E[(Y-m_Y)^2] \hfill (5)

So the correlation coefficient is the covariance between X and Y divided by the geometric mean of the variances of X and Y.

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CSP Estimators: The Time Smoothing Method

In a previous post, we introduced the frequency-smoothing method (FSM) of spectral correlation function (SCF) estimation. The FSM convolves a pulse-like smoothing window g(f) with the cyclic periodogram to form an estimate of the SCF. An advantage of the method is that is allows fine control over the spectral resolution of the SCF estimate through the choice of g(f), but the drawbacks are that it requires a Fourier transform as long as the data-record undergoing processing, and the convolution can be expensive. However, the expense of the convolution can be mitigated by using rectangular g(f).

In this post, we introduce the time-smoothing method (TSM) of SCF estimation. Instead of averaging (smoothing) the cyclic periodogram over spectral frequency, multiple cyclic periodograms are averaged over time. When the non-conjugate cycle frequency of zero is used, this method produces an estimate of the power spectral density, and is essentially the Bartlett spectrum estimation method. The TSM can be found in My Papers [6] (Eq. (54)), and other places in the literature.

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CSP Estimators: The Frequency-Smoothing Method

In this post I describe a basic estimator for the spectral correlation function (SCF): the frequency-smoothing method (FSM). The FSM is a way to estimate the SCF for a single value of cycle frequency. Recall from the basic theory of the cyclic autocorrelation and SCF that the SCF is obtained by infinite-time averaging of the cyclic periodogram or by infinitesimal-resolution frequency averaging of the cyclic periodogram. The FSM is merely a finite-time/finite-resolution approximation to the SCF definition.

One place the FSM can be found is in (My Papers [6]), where I introduce time-smoothed and frequency-smoothed higher-order cyclic periodograms as estimators of the cyclic polyspectrum. When the cyclic polyspectrum order is set to n = 2, the cyclic polyspectrum becomes the spectral correlation function, so the FSM discussed in this post is just a special case of the more general estimator in [6, Section VI.B].

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Signal Selectivity

In this post I describe and illustrate the most important property of cyclostationary statistics: signal selectivity. The idea is that the cyclostationary parameters for a single signal can be estimated for that signal even when it is corrupted by strong noise and cochannel interferers. Cochannel means that the interferer occupies a frequency band that partially or completely overlaps the frequency band for the signal of interest.

A mixture of signals, whether cochannel or not, is modeled by the simple sum of the signals, as in

x(t) = s_1(t) + s_2(t) + \ldots + s_K(t) + w(t), \hfill (1)

where w(t) is additive noise. We can write this more compactly as

x(t) = \displaystyle \sum_{k=1}^K s_k(t) + w(t). \hfill (2)

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The Spectral Correlation Function for Rectangular-Pulse BPSK

In this post, I show the non-conjugate and conjugate spectral correlation functions (SCFs) for the rectangular-pulse BPSK signal we generated in a previous post. The theoretical SCF can be analytically determined for a rectangular-pulse BPSK signal with independent and identically distributed bits (see My Papers [6] for example or The Literature [R1]). The cycle frequencies are, of course, equal to those for the CAF for rectangular-pulse BPSK. In particular, for the non-conjugate SCF, we have cycle frequencies of \alpha = k f_{bit} for all integers k, and for the conjugate SCF we have \alpha = 2f_c \pm k f_{bit}.

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