Why does zero-padding help in various estimators of the spectral correlation and spectral coherence functions?

Update to the exchange: May 7, 2021.

Reader Clint posed a great question about zero-padding in the frequency-smoothing method (FSM) of spectral correlation function estimation. The question prompted some pondering on my part, and I went ahead and did some experiments with the FSM to illustrate my response to Clint. The exchange with Clint (ongoing!) was deep and detailed enough that I thought it deserved to be seen by other CSP-Blog readers. One of the problems with developing material, or refining explanations, in the Comments sections of the CSP Blog is that these sections are not nearly as visible in the navigation tools featured on the Blog as are the Posts and Pages.

Learning machine learning for radio-frequency signal-processing problems, continued.

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!

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 values.

The costs strongly depend on whether you have prior cycle-frequency information or not.

Let’s look at the computational costs for spectral-correlation analysis using the three main estimators I’ve previously described on the CSP Blog: the frequency-smoothing method (FSM), the time-smoothing method (TSM), and the strip spectral correlation analyzer (SSCA).

We’ll see that the FSM and TSM are the low-cost options when estimating the spectral correlation function for a few cycle frequencies and that the SSCA is the low-cost option when estimating the spectral correlation function for many cycle frequencies. That is, the TSM and FSM are good options for directed analysis using prior information (values of cycle frequencies) and the SSCA is a good option for exhaustive blind analysis, for which there is no prior information available.

Unlike conventional spectrum analysis for stationary signals, CSP has three kinds of resolutions that must be considered in all CSP applications, not just two.

In this post, we look at the ability of various CSP estimators to distinguish cycle frequencies, temporal changes in cyclostationarity, and spectral features. These abilities are quantified by the resolution properties of CSP estimators.

Then the temporal resolution of the estimate is approximately , the cycle-frequency resolution is about , and the spectral resolution depends strongly on the particular estimator and its parameters. The resolution product was discussed in this post. The fundamental result for the resolution product is that it must be very much larger than unity in order to obtain an SCF estimate with low variance.

Higher-order statistics in the frequency domain for cyclostationary signals. As complicated as it gets at the CSP Blog.

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 examples).

The SSCA is a good tool for blind (no prior information) exhaustive (all cycle frequencies) spectral correlation analysis. An alternative is the FFT accumulation method.

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.

The non-blind spectral-correlation estimator called the TSM is favored when one wishes to avoid long FFTs.

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 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 , 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 .

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.