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6, JUNE 2000

Generalization of Spatially Variant Apodization to

Noninteger Nyquist Sampling Rates
Brian Hendee Smith

AbstractSpatially variant apodization (SVA) is reformulated domain weightings, SVA can reduce impulse response sidelobe
for use on synthetic aperture radar imagery with an arbitrary level without any mainlobe broadening. SVA has successfully
sampling rate. The algorithm is implemented as a spatially been applied to enhance synthetic aperture radar imagery.
varying three-point finite impulse response filter, and constraints
on the filter parameters are developed from physically motivated The SVA algorithm is efficiently implemented as a three point
concepts. By varying the parameters of the filter, sidelobe energy convolution in the image domain. This implementation requires
is reduced with no effective loss of resolution. The procedure that the data be sampled at an integer multiple of the Nyquist fre-
produces output comparable to that of the integer Nyquist version quency. If incoming data is sampled at a noninteger multiple of
of SVA, and effectively eliminates sidelobe artifacts with no loss of the Nyquist rate, the data must be upsampled to an integer rate, a
mainlobe resolution.
process that increases data storage requirements as well as con-
Index TermsImage enhancement, spectral analysis, synthetic sumes potentially valuable processing time. Furthermore, the in-
aperture radar.
crease in the data size will increase the computational burden of
any postprocessing operations.
I. INTRODUCTION We have developed a form of spatially variant apodization
that can be implemented on arbitrarily oversampled data. This
S YNTHETIC aperture radar imagery is formed from a
dataset with limited frequency domain support. Because
of the linearity of the system, the frequency domain truncation
version provides near complete sidelobe reduction in the im-
pulse response function, and there is no loss of resolution. It
can be used to gain speed realization by avoiding upsampling to
is equivalent to the convolution of the original signal with a
an integer Nyquist rate.
characteristic impulse response function. When no frequency
Another application of the noninteger Nyquist version of SVA
domain weighting is applied, the impulse response can be
is found in development of super resolution algorithms. The
approximated by a sinc function in the image
SVA based super resolution algorithm (Super-SVA [2]) re-
domain. The convolution of the original image with the sinc
quires that SVA be applied to an upsampled version of the orig-
function limits resolution by blurring out any sharp features.
inal image. The amount of upsampling is proportional to the
The sinc function falls off gradually away from the origin, and
desired extrapolation. When the desired extrapolation is nonin-
a bright scatterer can contribute energy to regions of the image
teger, a noninteger Nyquist version of SVA may be required.
some distance away. The dynamic range of radar data is high
This can be a particular problem when Super-SVA is used in
enough that this sidelobe energy may mask or distort the signal
sparse aperture applications [3], where one may not have the
from nearby weaker scatterers. The traditional technique for
luxury of selecting the amount of extrapolation that must be per-
mitigating these sidelobes is to apply a nonuniform frequency
formed on subapertures. With the availability of a noninteger
domain weighting function across the aperture, typically some
Nyquist version of SVA, noninteger extrapolation amounts can
function that falls off at the edges of the aperture such as a
be done more easily using Super-SVA.
Hanning or Taylor weighting. The major drawback of this
method is a systematic loss of resolution; classical sidelobe
reduction leads to a broadening of the mainlobe of the impulse
response function. SVA is based on the idea of using a spatial location dependent
Spatially variant apodization (SVA) is a nonlinear algorithm aperture function to reduce sidelobe energy without degrading
for reducing impulse response sidelobe levels in band limited resolution. SVA is similar in philosophy to Capons minimum
systems [1]. Like classical methods, SVA relies on a nonuni- variance spectral estimator [4], but SVA is computationally sim-
form frequency domain weighting of the data. In classical tech- plified by restricting the choice of frequencies to the cosine on
niques, the frequency domain weighting function is constant pedestal family of frequency domain weighting functions. The
throughout the entire image. SVA uses an image location de- frequency domain weighting functions are parameterized by
pendent aperture weighting function. Unlike classical frequency (1)
where is a weighting function to be individually chosen at
Manuscript received October 6, 1997; revised September 2, 1999. The as-
sociate editor coordinating the review of this manuscript and approving it for every pixel in the image domain, , and is the frequency. The
publication was Prof. Mita Desai. frequency represents half of the bandwidth, i.e., the region
The author is with the Sensor Development and Applications Group, ERIM of support of the data is . This family of curves
International, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI 48113-4008 USA (e-mail: bhsmith@erim- includes uniform ( ), Hanning ( ), and
Publisher Item Identifier S 1057-7149(00)04864-8. Hamming ( ) weighting functions.
10577194/00$10.00 2000 IEEE

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When the sampling rate is an integer multiple of the Nyquist

frequency, the frequency domain weightings in (1) can be effi-
ciently implemented in the image domain through a convolution
with a three point kernel. For Nyquist sampled data, the cosine
on pedestal frequency domain weighting parameterized by
can be expressed in terms of the values of the unweighted image
represents the unweighted image;
represents the cosine on pedestal weighted image;
is an index running over the pixel numbers.
For data sampled at an integer multiple of the Nyquist frequency,
the neighboring pixels, and in equation (2),
can be replaced by the Nyquist neighboring pixels; the pixel Fig. 1. Sidelobe region of unweighted (solid) and cosine on pedestal (dashed)
impulse responses for Nyquist sampled data.
values used in the convolution are located one unit further from
the center pixel for every additional oversampling multiple. This
shifting preserves the image domain representation of the co-
sine-on-pedestal family of aperture weightings.
SVA is a logical extension of multiapodization techniques
where several different frequency domain weightings are ap-
plied to a given set of data. In multiapodization schemes, at any
given pixel, the output is selected by comparing the images pro-
duced from the various aperture weightings. The pixel value of
the final image is set to be the pixel value from the image with
the weighting that has the lowest magnitude at that given point.
SVA multiapodizes over an infinite number of aperture weight-
ings by choosing a value of that minimizes the magnitude of
the output pixel. To regularize the minimization, and to restrict
the data to the class of classical aperture functions, the external
constraint Fig. 2. Impulse response of unweighted (solid) and half frequency cosine
weighted apertures.

is imposed. At any given pixel, the SVA output is given by the

value of with the minimum magnitude subject to the con-
straint in equation (3). A number of variations on the SVA al-
gorithm have been developed. The difference in many of these
variations lies in the way the separate real and imaginary parts
are treated, and the way the process is generalized to two di-
mensions. Two of the simplest algorithms are independent I/Q
(IIQSVA, which apodizes the real and imaginary parts of the
data individually) and joint I/Q (JIQSVA, which minimizes the
complex magnitude). The formalism used below to develop the
noninteger Nyquist version of SVA may be easily applied to al-
most any variant of SVA. For simplicity and space considera-
tions, most of the discussion and examples will concentrate on
the IIQ version of the algorithm. Fig. 3. Worst case impulse response for noninteger Nyquist SVA output.
The impulse response function from SVA consists of a single
sinc mainlobe with no sidelobes. Since SVA is a nonlinear
process, it must be kept in mind that this impulse response is
not a Green function, and the output can not be simply modeled Our discussion of the noninteger Nyquist sampled version of
as a convolution of the input true image with the impulse SVA begins by considering a generalized symmetric
response. However, SVA has been shown to be an efficient finite impulse response filter
spectral estimator, exhibiting a pseudolinearity (linear when
acting on separated impulses) and high resolution capabilities (4)
[5]. SVA has proven to be an efficient means for apodizing
SAR imagery [1] and has been used as the basis of an efficient where and are a set of parameters that describe the filter.
super resolution algorithm [2]. Apodization can be performed in a manner similar to adaptive

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Fig. 4. Stadium image sampled at 1.2 times Nyquist.

sidelobe reduction (ASR) [6] by choosing spatial location de- unit gainthe family of weightings is restricted to those
pendent values of and that minimize the output, . that pass a dc signal with unit gain at the origin, i.e.,
The problem as it stands is highly degenerate, and additional ;
constraints must be imposed. These additional constraints shall monotonic gainin an attempt to restrict the weightings
be developed from physical considerations below. to classical aperture functions, we shall consider only
The finite impulse response filter in (4) is an image domain apertures with a gain that monotonically decreases as the
implementation of the frequency domain weighting magnitude of the frequency increases.
The first constraint can be imposed by requiring the parameter
(5) to be

where is the sampling frequency, and, as before, the fre- (8)

quency has support over the region . The
impulse response, in the continuum limit, is given by the ex- The second constraint is more difficult to enforce, but it can
pression be formulated in terms of a set of nonholonomic external con-
straints. For a five point filter, these constraints can be approx-
sinc imated by a restriction to a polyhedral region in the parameter
space. The remainder of this discussion will focus only on the
sinc sinc (6) simpler three-point case. The gain constraint reduces to
where sinc , and is the angular sampling fre-
where the notation has been replaced with since there is
(7) only one weighting parameter in the case. Since the aper-
ture weighting contains a single inflection point, monotonicity
For general case, we impose two physically motivated con- can be enforced by ensuring positivity at the edge of the aper-
straints: ture, and that the weighting value be greater at the center of the

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Fig. 5. Noninteger Nyquist SVA applied to image sampled at 1.5 times Nyquist.

aperture than at the edge of the aperture. At the center of the For example, a 1-D IIQ noninteger Nyquist version of SVA is
aperture the weighting is given by accomplished by performing the following operations indepen-
dently on both the real and imaginary parts of the image.
Calculate for and [the upper limit
while at the edge of aperture weighting is of equation (12)].
If the two values are opposite in sign, the output in
(11) for the channel at pixel is zero.
The monotonicity constraints, when expressed in terms of the Otherwise, the output is the value with the lowest
weightings in equations (10) and (11) require that magnitude.
and . Combining these constraints with the
holonomic constraint in (9), the parameter must lie in the
When SVA is formulated on integer Nyquist sampled data
(12) equation (12) constrains the parameter to lie between 0 and
. The sidelobe region of the impulse responses of these ex-
The noninteger Nyquist SVA algorithm can be implemented as treme apertures are plotted in Fig. 1. The important feature to
a three point convolution, in a manner analogous to the Nyquist note is that the sidelobes are beating exactly 180 out of phase
sampled case. Applying a frequency domain weighting subject with each other. Since the two functions always have the oppo-
to the constraint in equation (9) is equivalent to the image do- site sign in the sidelobe region, the SVA impulse response con-
main operation sists only of a sinc pulse mainlobe.
On noninteger Nyquist sampled data, the extreme apertures
(13) will not beat completely out of phase. The worst possible
case can be understood by considering a nearest neighbor
One-dimensional (1-D) and two-dimensional (2-D) SVA al- apodization scheme implemented on twice Nyquist sampled
gorithms can be constructed by using the finite impulse response data (normally, for twice Nyquist sampled data, one would
filter in equation (13) along with the constraints in equation (12). formulate SVA on next-to-nearest neighboring pixels). The

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Fig. 6. SVA applied to stadium image sampled at 2 times Nyquist.

extreme weighting functions in this case consist of the un- integrated sidelobe level is low, and dominant residual sidelobe
weighted aperture, and the pure cosine weighting effects will often be below normal background clutter levels.
The plot in Fig. 3 represents the worst case scenario; for 1.2 or
(14) 1.5 oversampled data, the peaks are noticeably smaller both in
intensity and spatial extent.
Note that the frequency of this cosine is half that used in
the ordinary Nyquist sampled SVA algorithm, and there is no
pedestal offset. The impulse responses for the two extreme V. RESULTS
apertures are plotted in Fig. 2. The sidelobes no longer beat 180 We have tested the noninteger Nyquist SVA algorithm by
out of phase, and there exist regions where the sidelobes from resampling images at various sampling rates from 1.02.0
every possible aperture weighting have the same sign. In these Nyquist. The resampling was done by changing the amount of
regions, SVA will not completely eliminate the sidelobes, and zero pad in the frequency domain. The differences in image
some residual sidelobes will be manifest in the output. Sidelobe quality between the SVA outputs at the 1.0, 1.2, and 1.5
artifacts in the output imagery will come from these residual sampling rates was negligible in the images tested. We present
sidelobes in the impulse response function, as well as any arti- the results from one image in Figs. 46. Fig. 4 is an image of
facts that appear as manifestations of the nonlinear nature of the the University of Michigan Stadium collected and processed
algorithm. using the ERIM Data Collection System. In Fig. 4, the image
The impulse response from the noninteger Nyquist SVA al- is sampled at 1.5 Nyquist, and no frequency domain weighting
gorithm is plotted in Fig. 3. In real SAR data, these peaks will has been applied. Strong sidelobes can be seen ringing from
manifest themselves as low-intensity isolated spots. The total several bright scatterers on and around the stadium.

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In Fig. 5, the noninteger Nyquist SVA algorithm has been ap- REFERENCES
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We have developed a version of SVA suitable for use on non-
integer Nyquist sample data. The computational efficiency is
comparable to the integer Nyquist version (although there are Brian Hendee Smith received the Ph.D. degree in
speed and memory improvements that can be made by being theoretical physics from the University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, in 1994.
able to use a smaller dataset). The image quality is as high as He performed postdoctoral work in the area of
that of SVA, although the impulse response has some low power elementary particle physics at the University of
residual sidelobes. The noninteger Nyquist version of SVA can Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, and the University of
Toronto, Toronto, Ont., Canada. Recent projects have
be applied to application where speed/memory requirements are included development of wideband SAR processing
important, and it can also be used as a component in SVA based algorithms, image enhancement techniques, and
super resolution algorithms. high-performance algorithm implementations.

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