On the Use of Convolutional Neural Networks for Specific Emitter Identification


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Virginia Tech


Specific Emitter Identification (SEI) is the association of a received signal to an emitter, and is made possible by the unique and unintentional characteristics an emitter imparts onto each transmission, known as its radio frequency (RF) fingerprint. SEI systems are of vital importance to the military for applications such as early warning systems, emitter tracking, and emitter location. More recently, cognitive radio systems have started making use of SEI systems to enforce Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) rules. The use of pre-determined and expert defined signal features to characterize the RF fingerprint of emitters of interest limits current state-of-the-art SEI systems in numerous ways. Recent work in RF Machine Learning (RFML) and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) has shown the capability to perform signal processing tasks such as modulation classification, without the need for pre-defined expert features. Given this success, the work presented in this thesis investigates the ability to use CNNs, in place of a traditional expert-defined feature extraction process, to improve upon traditional SEI systems, by developing and analyzing two distinct approaches for performing SEI using CNNs. Neither approach assumes a priori knowledge of the emitters of interest. Further, both approaches use only raw IQ data as input, and are designed to be easily tuned or modified for new operating environments. Results show CNNs can be used to both estimate expert-defined features and to learn emitter-specific features to effectively identify emitters.



Specific Emitter Identification, Convolutional Neural Networks, IQ Imbalance, Estimation, Feature Learning, Clustering