k+1
=
k
+
k
(2)
in which {
k
} are real i.i.d. Gaussian rvs with mean zero and
standard deviation
, and the rv
0
is uniformly distributed.
The rvs {
k
} are supposed unknown to the receiver, and
statistically independent of symbols and noise. When
= 0
we obtain the classical case of a constant and uniformly
distributed phase offset. Hence, this model has also the clear
advantage that it is characterized by a single parameter (
)
which allows to effectively tune its strength.
Some of the information symbols in the transmitted burst
are known to the receiver (pilot symbols) and we assume
that the frequency estimation is based on these symbols. For
generality, we assume that the inserted N pilot symbols are
{a
k(n)
}, where {k(n)0 n N 1} is an index set
for the sample times. These symbols and the corresponding
received and phase samples are collected into three vectors
a
= {a
k(n)
}
N1
n=0
, r
= {r
k(n)
}
N1
n=0
, and
= {
k(n)
}
N1
n=0
.
The CRB for this estimation problem is dened as [1]
CRB
1
= E
r
_
2
ln p(r)
_
(3)
where p(r) is the probability density function (pdf) of r
given , the derivative is evaluated at the true value of , and
E
r
denotes statistical expectation with respect to the vector r.
The pdf p(r) can be obtained as
p(r) = E
{p(r, )} =
_
p(r, )p() d . (4)
As already mentioned, the likelihood function p(r) cannot
be expressed in a closed form. On the other hand, if the
expectation in (3) can be easily performed by means of a
Monte Carlo average, the computational effort required by the
numerical evaluation of the expectation in (4) is much more
intensive. In the next section, we describe an approximate but
very accurate closedform expression for this pdf.
In the technical literature, there is an alternative lower bound
on the estimator error variance, the socalled modied CRB
(MCRB) [18], easy to compute but in general quite looser. For
the problem at hand, this bound is not useful. In fact, it can
be easily shown that the MCRB has always the same value,
independently of the value of
= 0) and in
the absence of thermal noise ( = 0), respectively.
A. Approximated ClosedForm Expression
Let us denote by g(,
2
; x) a Gaussian distribution in x,
with mean value and variance
2
, and by t(; x) a Tikhonov
distribution in x characterized by the complex parameter ,
i.e.,
g(,
2
; x) =
1
_
2
2
e
(x)
2
2
2
(5a)
t(; x) =
1
2I
0
()
e
Re[e
jx
]
(5b)
where I
0
(x) is the zeroth order modied Bessel function
of the rst kind. By using these denitions and taking into
account the system model (1), we may express, discarding
irrelevant proportionality factors independent of and
p(r, ) =
N1
n=0
p(r
k(n)

k(n)
, )
N1
n=0
exp
_
1
2
Re[r
k(n)
a
k(n)
e
j(2k(n)T+
k(n)
)
]
_
=
N1
n=0
t
_
z
k(n)
;
k(n)
_
(6a)
p() =p(
k(0)
)
N1
n=1
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) (6b)
having dened z
k
=
r
k
a
2
e
j2kT
. In (6b), the pdf p(
k(0)
)
is p(
k(0)
) = 1/2, since the rv
k(0)
is uniformly distrib
uted. According to the phase noise model (2), the incre
ment
k(n)
k(n1)
is Gaussian with standard deviation
BARBIERI and COLAVOLPE: ON THE CRAMERRAO BOUND FOR CARRIER FREQUENCY ESTIMATION IN THE PRESENCE OF PHASE NOISE 577
(n) =
_
k(n) k(n 1). However, since the channel
phase is dened modulo 2, from a conceptual viewpoint,
the pdf p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) is the pdf of the increment
k(n)
k(n1)
mod 2, i.e.,
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) =
m=
g
_
k(n1)
,
2
(n);
k(n)
2m
_
=
m=
g
_
2m,
2
(n);
k(n)
k(n1)
_
(7)
in any interval of length 2. We assume, for the adopted pilot
distribution, (n) 2. Under this hypothesis, in the interval
[
k(n1)
,
k(n1)
+ ), in practice only the term with
m = 0 in (7) gives a non negligible contribution. Hence, in
the interval [
k(n1)
,
k(n1)
+ ) we may approximate
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) g
_
k(n1)
,
2
(n);
k(n)
_
= g
_
0,
2
(n);
k(n)
k(n1)
_ (8)
i.e., in this interval the pdf p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) is practically
Gaussian with mean
k(n1)
and standard deviation (n).
Since all the integrals involved in the following derivation can
be dened in any interval of length 2, for convenience we
will consider the interval [
k(n1)
,
k(n1)
+ ).
By substituting (6a) and (6b) into (4), observing that
t (z; ) t (u; ) =
I
0
(z + u)
2I
0
(z)I
0
(u)
t (z + u; ) (9)
and using the following approximation [19], [20]
1
_
t(, x)g(x,
2
; y) dx t
_
1 +
2

; y
_
(10)
discarding irrelevant multiplicative terms, after some manip
ulations (see Appendix I) we obtain the following expression
of the likelihood function:
p(r)
N2
n=0
I
0
_
z
k(n)
+ u
n

_
I
0
(u
n
)
(11)
where coefcients u
n
, n = N 2, . . . , 0, can be recursively
computed as
u
n
=
u
n+1
+ z
k(n+1)
1 + [k(n + 1) k(n)]
2
u
n+1
+ z
k(n+1)

(12)
with initial condition u
N1
= 0.
B. Absence of Phase Noise
When
=n+1
z
k()
. (13)
1
Note that, when = 0, (10) holds with equality. By numerical integration,
we veried that the mean square error between the left and right hand side
of (9) is always less than 10
3
for 30 degrees.
Hence, we have
p(r)
N2
n=0
I
0
_

N1
=n
z
k()

_
I
0
_

N1
=n+1
z
k()

_ . (14)
C. Absence of Thermal Noise
We now consider the case of absence of thermal noise (i.e.,
= 0). This is an approximation of the case when the SNR
is large enough so as the effect of thermal noise is negligible
with respect to phase noise.
In the next sections, it will be shown that the likelihood
function is always periodic with a period depending on the
pilot distribution. In the case of absence of thermal noise,
through the manipulations detailed in Appendix II, we nd
that, in an interval around each maximum, the pdf p(r) can
be expressed as
p(r) exp
_
(2)
2
D
2
2
[T
1
2D
N1
n=1
arg
_
r
k(n)
a
k(n)
r
k(n1)
a
k(n1)
_
_
2
(15)
having dened D = k(N 1) k(0). Hence, in this case,
around each maximum the likelihood function is Gaussian and
does not depend on the number and position of pilot symbols,
but only on the distance D between the rst and the last pilot
symbol.
IV. THE CRAMERRAO BOUND
We now describe the computation of the CRB for the
problem at hand.
As already mentioned, a rst computationally intensive
method is based on a numerical evaluation, through Monte
Carlo average, of both the expectations in (3) and (4). A step
bystep discussion on how to implement this full Monte
Carlo average is reported in Appendix III. The corresponding
result, denoted as CRB
MC
, is used to verify the accuracy of
the CRB obtained through the use of the simplied approxi
mated closedform expression (11) of the likelihood function
and denoted as CRB
simp
. In this latter case, the Monte Carlo
average is only used to compute the expectation in (3). In
the case of absence of phase noise, by using the closedform
expression (14), the CRB
simp
is exact. Hence, the proposed
method gives the exact CRB for the case of known data,
a constant and unknown phase offset, and the discretetime
observation model.
The low and highSNR limits of the CRB can be also
computed in closed form. By observing that for low SNR
values the arguments of the Bessel functions in (11) assume
low values, we can use the limiting form for small arguments
ln I
0
(x) x
2
/4, obtaining (see Appendix IV for the details)
CRB
L
=
4
2
2
T
2
N2
n=0
N1
=n+1
F(n, )
(16)
578 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 6, NO. 2, FEBRUARY 2007
where
F(n, )
= [k() k(n)]
2
a
k(l)

2
a
k(n)

2
e
1
2
[k()k(n)]
2
.
(17)
For
2
_
2
. (18)
This highSNR limit allows to draw some important con
siderations. First of all, in the presence of a timevarying
phase, the CRB has a oor, i.e., it is not possible to reach
the desired estimation accuracy simply increasing the SNR
value. In addition, the asymptotic CRB only depends on the
positions of the rst and last pilot symbol (as the asymptotic
likelihood function (15)) and is completely independent of the
actual pilot distribution. Let us now consider the particular
pilot distribution characterized by k(n) = nL, where L 1
is an integer constant which plays the role of the distance
between two consecutive pilot symbols (hence, L = 1 depicts
the situation of N consecutive pilot symbols). In this case,
being D = (N 1)L, the highSNR limit assumes the form
CRB
H
=
1
(N 1)LT
2
_
2
_
2
. (19)
In [18] it has been demonstrated that, for a large enough
SNR and a constant phase offset, the CRB coincides with
the MCRB. It can be straightforwardly shown that, with the
considered pilot distribution, the MCRB takes on value
MCRB =
3N
0
2
2
N
3
L
2
E
S
T
2
(20)
(see also [21] for the effect of a non uniform pilot distribution
on the likelihood function). Hence, for high SNR values, the
CRB goes as N
1
in the presence of phase noise whereas it
goes as N
3
for a constant phase offset. As a consequence,
an increase in the estimation window has still a benecial
effect on the estimation accuracy, mitigated by the fact that the
presence of a timevarying phase leads to almost independent
received samples when the window becomes larger.
Similarly, the CRB goes as L
1
for a timevarying phase
whereas in (20) it goes as L
2
for a constant phase offset.
This behavior is due to the fact that increasing the distance
between two consecutive pilot symbols has the same effect of
increasing the phase noise variance.
V. ESTIMATION ALGORITHMS
By using the expressions for the likelihood function derived
in Section III we can design a couple of maximum likelihood
(ML) estimation algorithms for this scenario. We consider
the above mentioned pilot distribution k(n) = nL. In this
case, for the considered discretetime signal model, values of
frequency offset which differ of 1/LT are indistinguishable
since they produce the same received samples r
k(n)
= r
nL
.
Hence, the likelihood functions are
1
L
periodic with respect to
the normalized frequency offset T. This means that the valid
estimation range must be small enough so as no more than
one global maximum appears in the likelihood function, that
is, the possible values of the frequency offset must be inside
the range [
1
2LT
,
1
2LT
].
By considering the likelihood function (11), we obtain the
following estimator
= argmax
p(r) = argmax
ln p(r)
= argmax
N2
n=0
[ln I
0
(z
nL
+ u
n
) ln I
0
(u
n
)] .
(21)
The search for the maximum of the loglikelihood function can
be accomplished, as for the Rife and Boorstyn algorithm [2], in
two steps. In a rst coarse search, the loglikelihood function
is evaluated for some values of the frequency offset in the
range [
1
2LT
,
1
2LT
] and the value
cs
which corresponds to
the maximum value is obtained. Then, with a ne search
the value of closest to
cs
which maximizes the log
likelihood function is located, for example by using the secant
method or a bisectionlike algorithm. This estimator will be
denoted as E
PN
. Obviously, it is quite complex for a receiver
implementation. In the numerical results it will be used as a
term of comparison to evaluate the performance that can be
achieved by a practical estimator.
Let us now take into account the asymptotic expression of
the likelihood function. A ML estimator, based upon (15), is
characterized by the following simple estimation rule (D =
(N 1)L for the above mentioned pilot distribution)
=
N1
n=1
arg
_
r
nL
a
nL
r
(n1)L
a
(n1)L
_
2(N 1)LT
(22)
that is very similar to the Kay estimator except for the
weighting coefcients [6], [10]. We will denote this estimator
as E
asymp
. It is straightforward to show that, for high SNR
values, this estimator is unbiased.
VI. NUMERICAL RESULTS
Although the results in the previous sections can be applied
to general linear modulations, in the numerical results we
consider MPSK signals since in this case the performance
is independent of the adopted pilot sequence. We show the
accuracy of the CRB computed by using the simplied closed
form expression of the likelihood function. The performance
of the derived estimators is also shown and compared with
the CRB and with the performance of classical frequency
estimators.
In Fig. 1, for
= 2
BARBIERI and COLAVOLPE: ON THE CRAMERRAO BOUND FOR CARRIER FREQUENCY ESTIMATION IN THE PRESENCE OF PHASE NOISE 579
10
10
10
9
10
8
10
7
10
6
10
5
10
4
10
3
10
2
10
1
30 25 15 10 5 0 5 10 15 20
C
R
B
x
T
2
E
S
/N
0
[dB]
CRB
MC
CRB
simp
CRB
L
CRB
H
= 6 deg.
20
0 deg.
2 deg.
Fig. 1. CRB in the case of N = 64 consecutive pilot symbols and different
values of
.
0.4
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.4 0.2 0 0.2 0.4
E
{
}
T
T
E
asymp
, 0 dB
E
PN
, 0 dB
E
asymp
, 10dB
E
PN
, 10dB
Fig. 2. Mean estimated frequency for N = 64,
= 2 degrees.
n
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d
e
s
t
i
m
a
t
i
o
n
v
a
r
i
a
n
c
e
10
7
10
6
10
5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
[deg]
CRB
simp
E
PN
E
RB
E
asymp
Fig. 4. Normalized estimator variance for E
S
/N
0
= 10 dB and N = 64
consecutive pilot symbols.
the SNR is shown, for
= 0 deg
= 6 deg
Fig. 5. Normalized estimator variance for E
S
/N
0
= 10 dB and
= 6
degrees.
CRB, as a function of the phase noise standard deviation for
E
S
/N
0
= 10 dB and N = 64 consecutive pilot symbols.
Finally, in Fig. 5, for E
S
/N
0
= 10 dB, L = 1,
= 0
and 6 degrees, we show the performance of the estimators as a
function of the number of pilots N. The E
PN
estimator is not
reported for
n=1
t
_
z
k(n)
;
k(n)
_
g
_
k(n1)
,
2
(n);
k(n)
_
d
k(N1)
. . . d
k(0)
(B1)
where we recall here the denitions of z
k(n)
and (n):
z
k(n)
=
r
k(n)
a
k(n)
2
e
j2k(n)T
(n) =
_
k(n) k(n 1) .
Considering (9) and the approximation in (10), the integral
in (B1) can be evaluated in a recursive manner.
1) First of all, we solve the innermost integral, obtaining
_
g
_
k(N2)
,
2
(N 1);
k(N1)
_
t
_
z
k(N1)
;
k(N1)
_
d
k(N1)
t
_
u
N2
;
k(N2)
_
where we have dened the term u
N2
as in (12).
2) Then, every integral, from the inner one to the outer one
(but except the outermost), is of the form
_
t
_
z
k(n)
;
k(n)
_
t
_
u
n
;
k(n)
_
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
) d
k(n)
(B2)
and it can be computed in a recursive manner, using (9),
(10), and the denition (12).
3) The last (outermost) integral is of the form
_
t
_
z
k(0)
;
k(0)
_
t
_
u
0
;
k(0)
_
1
2
d
k(0)
=
1
(2)
2
I
0
_
z
k(0)
+ u
0

_
I
0
_
z
k(0)

_
I
0
(u
0
)
.
(B3)
Neglecting the terms independent of , the likelihood function
shown in Section III results.
APPENDIX II
DERIVATION OF THE LIKELIHOOD FUNCTION IN ABSENCE
OF THERMAL NOISE
In the absence of thermal noise, if we know the carrier
frequency and the instantaneous phase we exactly know the
received sample. Hence, the pdf p(r
k
,
k
) is a Dirac delta
function, i.e.,
p(r
k
,
k
) = (r
k
a
k
e
j(
k
+2kT)
) . (C1)
Inserting this expression in (4) we obtain
p(r) =
_
. . .
_
N1
n=0
_
r
k
a
k
e
j(
k(n)
+2kT)
_
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
)d
k(n1)
. . . d
0
=
_
. . .
_
N1
n=0
k(n)
arg
_
r
k(n)
a
k(n)
e
j2k(n)T
__
p(
k(n)

k(n1)
)d
k(n1)
. . . d
0
.
Now, remembering (7) and noting that p(
k(0)

k(1)
) =
p(
k(0)
) =
1
2
, from (C2) it follows that
p(r) =
N1
n=1
p
_
k(n)
k(n1)
_
=
N1
n=1
m=
g(2m,
2
(n),
k(n)
k(n1)
) .
(C2)
Since for the CRB evaluation the likelihood function p(r)
around its maximum nearest to = 0 has to be considered,
BARBIERI and COLAVOLPE: ON THE CRAMERRAO BOUND FOR CARRIER FREQUENCY ESTIMATION IN THE PRESENCE OF PHASE NOISE 581
for each n only the term with m = 0 has to be taken into
account, while all the others with m = 0 are negligible for all
the interesting values of
.
At this point, considering that if z
1
and z
2
are complex
numbers, arg(z
1
) arg(z
2
) = arg(z
1
z
2
), we can derive
p(r)
N1
n=1
exp
_
1
2
2
k(n)
e
j2k(n)T
)
arg(r
k(n1)
a
k(n1)
e
j2k(n1)T
)
_
2
_
= exp
_
1
2
2
n=1
[2 (k(n) k(n 1)) T
arg(r
k(n)
a
k(n)
r
k(n1)
a
k(n1)
_
2
_
.
Finally, expanding the square, discarding some irrelevant
constants and with simple manipulations
p(r) exp
_
(2)
2
(k(N 1) k(0))
2
2
(T T)
2
_
(C3a)
with
T =
N1
n=1
arg(r
k(n)
a
k(n)
r
k(n1)
a
k(n1)
)
2 (k(N 1) k(0))
. (C3b)
APPENDIX III
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FULL MONTE CARLO
AVERAGE METHOD
The computation of the CRB
MC
can be decomposed into
the following problems.
a) Let be the true value of the frequency offset. For a
given received vector r, the pdfs p(r, ), p(r, +), and
p(r, ), for a value of sufciently small, are computed
by generating a set of N
int
phase sequences according to
the Wiener model (2). For each of them, the pdfs p(r, ),
p(r, +), and p(r, ) are evaluated in closedform
following (6a). Then, according to (4), these N
int
values are
arithmetically averaged. This step can obviously be avoided if
we use the approximated closed form (11).
b) The second derivative necessary to compute (3) is approx
imated as
2
ln p(r)
1
2
[ln p(r + )
+ ln p(r ) 2 ln p(r)] .
c) Finally, the expectation in (3) is evaluated by generating
N
ext
sequences r following the channel model (1) and (2),
the corresponding value of
2
2
ln p(r) computed as de
scribed in the previous steps, and the N
ext
obtained values,
arithmetically averaged to obtain the inverse of the CRB.
The step a) is crucial for the accuracy of the nal CRB
value, since to obtain a very accurate value of the second
derivative
2
2
ln p(r), the values of p(r), p(r + ),
and p(r ) must be very accurate. Hence, it must be
N
int
N
ext
. The complexity of this full Monte Carlo
average is roughly N
ext
N
int
, where these two values have
to be large enough in order to obtain a sufcient accuracy. For
instance, after a proper tuning of these parameters we found
that N
ext
= 10
5
and N
int
= 5 10
6
give reliable results,
as also conrmed by the perfect agreement with the low
and highSNR expressions shown in the numerical results,
and an increase in these values does not lead to different
results. The use of the approximated closedform likelihood
function allows to avoid the inner expectation (4), thus roughly
reducing the computational effort of a factor N
int
. As shown
in Section VI, there are no signicant differences with respect
to the results obtained by means of the full Monte Carlo
method. Hence, this reduction of the computational effort
comes for free. The much lower simulation time allows,
during design, a fast tuning of the system parameters, such as
the number of pilots or their distribution.
APPENDIX IV
LOWSNR LIMIT OF THE CRB
Let us consider the approximated likelihood function in
(11). Since the coefcients z
k
are inversely proportional to
the thermal noise variance and the case of low SNR is under
consideration, coefcients u
n
can be considered small enough
so as
2
u
n+1
+ z
k(n+1)
 1. Hence
u
n
u
n+1
+ z
k(n+1)
N1
=n+1
z
k()
.
Moreover, using the limiting form for small arguments
ln I
0
(x) x
2
/4, we nd
ln p(r)
1
4
N2
n=0
_
u
n
+ z
k(n)

2
u
n

2
_
=
1
4
N2
n=0
_
z
k(n)

2
+ 2Re
_
z
k(n)
N1
=n+1
z
k()
__
and after double differentiation with respect to we have
2
ln p(r) =
(2T)
2
2
4
N2
n=0
N1
=n+1
Re
_
r
k(n)
r
k()
a
k(n)
a
k()
(k() k(n))
2
e
j2(k()k(n))T
_
.
(E1)
In order to evaluate the CRB, (E1) has to be evaluated at the
true value of and averaged with respect to the vector of the
received samples. Noting that, for n > m,
E{r
m
r
n
} = a
m
a
n
e
(nm)
2
e
j2(nm)T
substituting this expression in (E1) and taking into account
(3), we nally obtain
CRB
1
L
=
(2T)
2
2
4
N2
n=0
N1
=n+1
a
k(n)

2
a
k()

2
[k() k(n)]
2
e
[k()k(n)]
2
.
582 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 6, NO. 2, FEBRUARY 2007
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Alan Barbieri (S05) was born in Parma, Italy, in
1979. He received the Dr. Ing. degree in Telecom
munications Engineering (cum laude) from the Uni
versity of Parma, Parma, Italy, in 2003. Currently, he
is working towards the Ph.D. degree at Dipartimento
di Ingegneria dellInformazione (DII), University of
Parma.
His main research interests include digital trans
mission theory and information theory, with par
ticular emphasis on channel coding, iterative joint
detection and decoding algorithms, estimation of
unknown parameters and algorithms for synchronization. He participates
in several research projects funded by the European Space Agency (ESA
ESTEC) and important telecommunications companies.
Mr. Barbieri was the recipient of the Premio Conti for the year 2003, as
the best graduate in Information Engineering at the University of Parma in
the academic year 2003.
Giulio Colavolpe was born in Cosenza, Italy, in
1969. He received the Dr. Ing. degree in Telecom
munications Engineering (cum laude) from the Uni
versity of Pisa, Italy, in 1994 and the Ph.D. degree
in Information Technology from the University of
Parma, Italy, in 1998. Since 1997, he has been at the
University of Parma, Italy, where he is now an As
sociate Professor of Telecommunications. In 2000,
he was Visiting Scientist at the Institut Eurcom,
Valbonne, France.
His main research interests include digital trans
mission theory, adaptive signal processing, channel coding and information
theory. His research activity has led to more than eighty scientic publications
in leading international journals and conference proceedings and a few
industrial patents. He is also coauthor of the book Detection Algorithms for
Wireless Communications, with Applications to Wired and Storage Systems
(New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2004). In 2005, he received the best paper
award at the 13th International Conference on Software, Telecommunications
and Computer Networks (SoftCOM05).