Communications-inspired sensing: A case study on waveform design

Wenshu Zhang, Liuqing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Information theory, and particularly the mutual information (MI), has provided fundamental guidance for communications research. In Bell's 1993 paper, the MI was first applied to radar waveform design. Similar to its communications counterpart, the solution comes in a water-filling form. However, the practical meaning of MI in the sensing context remains unclear to date. Recently, Yang and Blum's 2007 paper shows that under the white noise assumption, the optimum water-filling scheme simultaneously maximizes the MI and minimizes the estimation minimum mean square error (MMSE). Such an equivalence, however, does not hold when the target parameter statistics are not perfectly known as shown in Yang and Blum's subsequent work. To further the understanding of the practical meaning of MI and to establish a connection between the MI and commonly adopted MSE measures for sensing, this paper takes a fresh look at the target estimation problem. We consider the general colored noise, incorporate the normalized MSE (NMSE), and develop joint robust designs for both the transmitter (waveforms) and the receiver (estimator) under various target and noise uncertainty models. Our results show that i) the optimum waveform designs resulted from the MI, MMSE and NMSE criteria are all different and ii) compared to MMSE, the NMSE-based designs share more similarities with the MI-based ones, especially when the target and noise statistics are not perfectly known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5184909
Pages (from-to)792-803
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received December 09, 2008; revised July 03, 2009. First published July 31, 2009; current version published January 13, 2010. The associate editor coordinating the review of this manuscript and approving it for publication was Prof. Gerald Matz. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation by Grant 0621879 and by the Office of Naval Research by Grant N00014-07-1-0868.


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