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A Convex Hull Based Approach for MIMO Radar

Waveform Design with Quantized Phases
Chenglin Ren, Zhaohui Ma, Fan Liu, Student Member, IEEE, Weichao Pi, and Jianming Zhou

Abstract—In this letter, we focus on designing constant- comparable performance with the SQR method while notably
modulus waveform with discrete phases for the multi-input reducing the computational complexity. However, the works
arXiv:1806.05621v1 [eess.SP] 14 Jun 2018

multi-output (MIMO) radar, where the signal-to-interference- aforementioned only address the continuous phase case. Given
plus-noise ratio (SINR) is maximized in the presence of both the
signal-dependent clutter and the noise. Given the NP-hardness the extensive use of digital phase shifters in many radar
of the formulated problem, we propose to relax the original systems, we consider in this letter the MIMO radar waveform
optimization as a sequence of continuous quadratic programming design for the case of quantized phases. Pioneered by [18], the
(QP) subproblems by use of the convex hull of the discrete feasible cases of both continuous and discrete phases are considered.
region, which yields approximated solutions with much lower Based on the method of semidefinite program (SDP) relaxation
computational costs. Finally, we assess the effectiveness of the
proposed waveform design approach by numerical simulations. and randomization, the approximated solutions to the quadratic
optimization problem subject to the CMC and the SC are
Index Terms—waveform design, discrete phases, MIMO radar, presented. In [19], the optimization problem under the PAPR
quadratic programming, convex hull
constraint and energy constraint is resolved through the same
I. I NTRODUCTION In this letter, we optimize the SINR of the radar under both
CMC and SC, where the phases of the designed signals are
A CCORDING to the configuration of the antennas, the
MIMO radar is studied in two types: distributed MIMO
radar [1], [2] and colocated MIMO radar [3], [4]. Compared
drawn from a discrete alphabet. By introducing the convex hull
of the finite feasible points, a novel continuous approximation
with traditional phased array radar, MIMO radar offers extra method (CAM) is proposed to relax the original problem
degrees of freedom by allowing individual waveforms to be as a sequence of convex QP subproblems, which can be
transmitted at each antenna, and therefore achieves enhanced solved via standard numerical tools. By doing so, the solution
capabilities [5]–[7]. In addition, a well designed waveform of the original discrete problem can be then obtained by a
can significantly improve the SINR [8], [9] and probability of simple quantization procedure. Numerical results show that
detection [10]. the performance of the proposed approach can approximate
The problem of waveform design for MIMO radar has that of the continuous waveform design.
gained considerable attention in recent years [11]–[17]. In
practical scenarios, waveforms with constant modulus or low II. S YSTEM M ODEL
peak-to-average-power ratio (PAPR) properties are needed to
avoid signal distortions, as the non-linear power amplifiers We consider a colocated narrow band MIMO radar system
are typically operated at the saturation region. Meanwhile, the equipped with NT transmit antennas and NR receive antennas,
similarity constraint (SC) is also enforced, which employs a where each antenna emits or receives N samples. The receive
reference waveform as the benchmark and allows the opti- waveform is given as [14]
mized waveform to share some of the ambiguity properties of M
the reference waveform. Relying on the semidefinite relaxation r = α0 A(θ0 )s + αm A(θm )s + n (1)
(SDR) and rank-one decomposition techniques, the authors m=1
of [14] introduce the sequential optimization procedures to
maximize the SINR accounting for the constant modulus where r = [rT1 , . . . , rTN ]T ∈ CNR N ×1 with rn ∈ CNR ×1 ,
constraint (CMC) and the SC for the case of continuous n = 1, . . . , N being the n-th snapshot across the NR receive
signal phase. In [16], a novel successive QCQP refinement antennas, s = [sT1 , . . . , sTN ]T ∈ CNT N ×1 stands for the
(SQR) algorithm is developed for the same optimization transmit waveform with sn ∈ CNT ×1 being the n-th snapshot
problem in [14], which involves solving a sequence of con- across the NT transmit antennas, n ∈ CNR N ×1 ∼ CN (0, σn2 I)
vex quadratically constrained quadratic programming (QCQP) denotes circular white Gaussian noise, α0 and αm represent
subproblems. Furthermore, by customizing the projection pro- the complex amplitudes of the target and the m-th interference
cedure for the convex QCQP subproblems, the Accelerated source, θ0 and θm represent the angles of the target and the
Gradient Projection (AGP) is proposed in [17], which shares a m-th interference source, respectively, and A(θ) stands for the
steering matrix of a Uniform Linear Array (ULA) with half-
C. Ren, Z. Ma, F. Liu, W. Pi and J. Zhou are with the School of Information wavelength separation between the antennas, which is given
and Electronics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 100081, China
(e-mail:; mzh;;
peao; A(θ) = IN ⊗ [ar (θ)at (θ)T ] (2)

where IN is the N × N identity matrix, ⊗ denotes the

Kronecker product, at and ar stand for the transmit and the
receive steering vectors, respectively.
Aiming for maximizing the output SINR of the radar, we
jointly design the transmit waveform and the receive filter.
Without loss of generality, we assume that a linear Finite
Impulse Response (FIR) filter f ∈ CNR N ×1 is employed to
process the receive echo wave. The output of the filter r is
given as
r = f H r = α0 f H A(θ0 )s + αm f H A(θm )s + f H n (3)
where (·) denotes the Hermitian transpose. As a conse-
quence, the output SINR can be expressed as
σ f H A(θ0 )s Fig. 1. The constellation points with Ω = 16 for k-th dimension.
SINR = (4)
f H T̂(s)f + f H f
where σ = E[|α0 | ]/σn2 with E[·] denoting the statistical Y(s) = AH (θ0 )[T̂(s) + I]−1 A(θ0 ). (10)
expectation, and According to [20], we can obtain a suboptimal SINR by
X assuming Y = Y(s) with a fixed s and optimizing s with the
T̂(s) = Im A(θm )ssH AH (θm ) (5) new Y iteratively, resulting in a sequence of subproblems as
m=1 follows
max sH Ys
where Im = E[|αm | ]/σn2 . s
s.t. |s(k)| = 1/ NT N (11)
III. P ROBLEM F ORMULATION arg s(k) ∈ [ωk , ωk + δ].
Based on the system model analyzed above, the waveform We consider the subproblem as (11) for each iteration in the
design with continuous phase is firstly considered, where the sequel. In addition, let q ∈ CNT N ×1 be the quantized transmit
CMC and the SC aforementioned have been imposed. Thus, waveform, and q(k) be the k-th entry of q. As a consequence,
the maximization of the SINR in (4) can be formulated as the maximization of the SINR in (11) for the continuous phase
2 case can be quantized as
σ f H A(θ0 )s
max max qH Yq
f ,s f H T̂(s)f + f H f q
p (6) (12)
s.t. |s(k)| = 1/ NT N s.t. q∈Q
ks − s0 k∞ ≤ ε where Q is the discrete phase alphabet which is discussed
where s(k) stands for the k-th entry of s, k = 1, . . . , NT N , detailedly in the next section.
k·k∞ denotes the infinity norm, s0 represents the reference The optimization problem of (12) is non-convex and NP-
waveform, and ε (0 ≤ ε ≤ 2) is a preset parameter to control hard in general, whose optimal solution cannot be found in
the similarity degree between s and s0 . In addition, by taking polynomial time. To tackle this problem, we consider the
into account the CMC, the SC can be rewritten as convex hull of the feasible points for each dimension, and
relax (12) to a continuous QP subproblem. In the next section,
arg s(k) ∈ [ωk , ωk + δ] (7) we introduce a novel algorithm—Continuous Approximation
Method (CAM) to approximate to the nearest feasible vector
where ωk and δ are respectively given as
qopt for the optimization problem of (12).
ωk = arg s0 (k) − arccos(1 − ε2 /2)
δ = 2 arccos(1 − ε2 /2)
To describe Q in (12), we suppose an extreme situation of
where s0 (k) is the k-th entry of s0 . Noting that there is no
(9) with δ = 2π, i.e., the similarity parameter ε = 2, where
constraints on f as analyzed in [14], the maximization problem
the SC vanishes and only the CMC is in effect. As shown
of (6) can be equivalent to
in Fig. 1, the feasible region of s(k) is a full circle with a
max sH Y(s)s constant radius on the complex plane C. In the discrete phase
(9) case, we construct a constellation with Ω points on the circle,
s.t. |s(k)| = 1/ NT N i.e., q1 , . . . , qρ , . . . , qΩ , as an example with Ω = 16 shown in
arg s(k) ∈ [ωk , ωk + δ] Fig. 1, where the radian between any two adjacent points is
where Y(s) is a positive-semidefinite matrix, which is given given as

as τ= . (13)


The constellation points are distributed over the whole contin-

uous feasible region for each dimension. Thus, each sample
of the continuous transmit waveform can be quantized to the
finite feasible points which can be given as
qρ = exp(jρτ )/ NT N (14)
where ρ = 1, . . . , Ω. For notational convenience, let
n p o

ΓΩ = qρ = exp(jρτ )/ NT N ρ = 1, . . . , Ω (15)
represent the discrete phase alphabet for each dimension. As
shown in Fig. 2 (a), by connecting all the feasible points,
a regular polygon is formulated in the tint area, which is
the convex hull of ΓΩ . Further, let ΛΩ be the discrete phase
alphabet for all dimensions, which is given as (a)

Λ Ω = ΓΩ ⊙ · · · ⊙ ΓΩ ⊙ · · · ⊙ ΓΩ (16) 90 0.2
| {z } 120 60
the number of ΓΩ is NT N 0.15

where ⊙ denotes the Cartesian product. Obviously, q ∈ ΛΩ , 150 0.1 30

q(k) ∈ ΓΩ . 0.05

However, for the general situation of (9) with δ less than

180 0
2π, the CMC and the SC are both involved. We introduce
a positive even integer parameter η to indicate the similarity
between q and q0 , where q0 represents the quantized reference 210 330

waveform. By using η, we rewrite (8) as follows

240 300
γk = arg q0 (k) − ητ /2 270
ϕ = ητ
where q0 (k) is the k-th entry of q0 . For each dimension, η (b)
stands for the number of feasible points around q0 (k), which Fig. 2. (a) The convex hull of ΓΩ with Ω = 16 and the convex hull of
is obviously less than Ω. According to the second equation in Γη (k) with η = 6 for k-th dimension; (b) A simulation example of the k-th
(8), the actual similarity tolerance ε between q and q0 can be entry of the optimal solution sopt for the CAM approach.
expressed as p
ε = 2[1 − cos(ϕ/2)]. (18)
where ∆ is the Cartesian product of the convex hull for all
For instance, Fig. 2 (a) shows the feasible points similar to dimensions, which can be expressed as
q0 (k) in the case of η = 6, which can be enumerated as a
finite set ∆ = Θ(1) ⊙ · · · ⊙ Θ(k) ⊙ · · · ⊙ Θ(NT N ). (23)
Γη (k) = {p1 (k), . . . pη/2+1 (k), . . . , pη+1 (k)} (19)
Obviously, the optimization problem of (22) is convex, which
where the angle of p1 (k) is γk , pη/2+1 (k) is q0 (k), and can be solved via numerical solvers, e.g., the CVX toolbox.
pη+1 (k) is the mirror constellation point of p1 (k) with respect As shown in Fig. 2 (a), sopt (k) is the k-th entry of the optimal
to q0 (k). The convex hull of Γη (k) is shown as a darker solution sopt of (22). In Fig. 2 (b), we take a simulation
polygon marked by Θ(k). Noting that Γη (k) ⊆ ΓΩ , any given example of sopt (k) for the CAM approach with Ω = 16 and
pµ (k), µ = 1, . . . , η + 1, can be expressed as η = 6. The red stars indicate the feasible points. The blue
p circle is sopt (k), which obviously locates in the convex hull.
pµ (k) = exp{j[γk + (µ − 1)τ ]}/ NT N . (20) We provide the analytical formulas of the convex hull Θ(k)
Furthermore, let for each dimension in the sequel. For notational convenience,
we omit the dimension number k. As shown in Fig. 2 (a), the
Λη = Γη (1) ⊙ · · · ⊙ Γη (k) ⊙ · · · ⊙ Γη (NT N ) (21) convex hull has η + 1 edges which are highlighted in red, i.e.,
represent the feasible vector of q for all dimensions. It is L1 : p1 p2 , . . . , Lµ : pµ pµ+1 , . . . , Lη : pη pη+1 , and Lη+1 :
obvious that Λη ⊆ ΛΩ , and especially, when η = Ω, pη+1 p1 . Let us define the middle point of pµ pµ+1 as
Λη = ΛΩ . pµ + pµ+1
We focus on the feasible points of (12) for each dimension, mµ = , µ = 1, . . . , η. (24)
where we relax the finite feasible points set Γη (k) to the
convex hull itself, resulting in the following QP problem According to the basic plane analytic geometry, given any s ∈
C, the line Lµ can be expressed as
max sH Ys
s (22)
s.t. s∈∆ Line Lµ : fµ (s) = Re(m∗µ (s − mµ )) = 0. (25)

20 0 20

19 -10 19

18 18
17 17
16 16


15 15
14 14
13 13
CAM, =16, =6
-70 AGP, =16, =6
12 12
CAM, =32, =12
-80 AGP, =32, =12
11 11
CAM CAM CAM, =48, =18
AGP AGP AGP, =48, =18
10 -90 10
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 80 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Iteration index Angle [Degrees] Number of samples

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 3. Performance comparison between the CAM in discrete phase case and the AGP in continuous phase case: (a) SINR in each iteration; (b) Beampattern;
(c) SINR with increasing number of samples.

In addition, for the (η + 1)-th edge, the middle point mη+1 is where k = 1, ..., NT , n = 1, ..., N . For the discrete phase case,
pη+1 + p1 the reference waveform q0 is obtained by quantizing s0 . The
, mη+1 = (26) numbers of the transmit and the receive antennas are NT = 4,
NR = 8, respectively. In addition, we consider a scenario
and the corresponding line Lη+1 is given as with three fixed signal-dependent clutters and additive white
Gaussian disturbance with variance σn = 0dB. The target is
Line Lη+1 : fη+1 (s) = Re(m∗η+1 (s − mη+1 )) = 0. (27) 2
located at an angle θ0 = 15◦ with a reflecting power of |α0 | =
As a consequence, the k-th convex hull for each dimension 10dB and three fixed interference sources located at θ1 =
can be separately formulated in two cases. For the first one, −50◦ , θ2 = −10◦ and θ3 = 40◦ reflecting a power of |α1 |2 =
2 2
when 0 ≤ ϕ < π, namely 0 ≤ η < Ω/2 , Θ(k) is given by |α2 | = |α3 | = 30dB.
 As shown in Fig. 3 (a), we firstly compare the SINR in
fµ (s) ≤ 0, µ = 1, . . . , η each iteration between the CAM and the AGP with N = 8,
fη+1 (s) ≥ 0. Ω = 16 and η = 6. According to (13), (17) and (18), we have
For the case of π ≤ ϕ ≤ 2π, namely Ω/2 ≤ η ≤ Ω, Θ(k) is ϕ = 3π/4 and ε ≈ 1.1. The SINR resulting from the CAM
given by is slightly inferior to the AGP for the continuous phase case.

fµ (s) ≤ 0, µ = 1, . . . , η Fig. 3 (b) shows the beampattern of the optimal waveform
(29) for both methods, using the same parameters as in Fig. 3 (a).
fη+1 (s) ≤ 0.
The simulation reveals that the CAM achieves a comparable
Finally, by comparing the Euclidean distance between beampattern performance with that of the continuous phase
sopt (k) and the feasible points in Γη (k), the feasible point with case.
the minimal distance is checked for each dimension. Thus, we In Fig. 3 (c), we compare the SINR for both methods with
obtain the optimal feasible vector qopt . increasing number of samples N . In order to normalizing the
Remark: The complexity of the CAM mainly comes from actual similarity tolerance ε, we change Ω and η with a fixed
computation of solving the QP problem. By using the interior- ratio 8/3, i.e., Ω = 16 and η = 6, Ω = 32 and η = 12,
√ algorithm, the total number of iterations needed is Ω = 48 and η = 18, leading to the same ε as Fig. 3 (a).
O( NT N log(1/ε)), and each iteration can be executed in The AGP results in a consistent SINR with different Ω and
O(NT3 N 3 ) arithmetic operations [21]. Meanwhile, considering η. Meanwhile, the SINR of the CAM exhibits an acceptable
the finite discrete alphabet, the optimization problem of (12) fluctuation, which is only 1dB lower than its AGP counterpart
can be also solved by the exhaustive search method, while the substantially.
worst case complexity of such method is exponential.

In this letter, we propose a novel approach for MIMO
In this section, we provide numerical results to evaluate
radar waveform design with constant modulus and discrete
the performance in terms of the SINR and the beampattern
phases. By constructing the polygon convex hull of the feasible
between the CAM in discrete phase case and the AGP [17]
constellation points, we develop a CAM algorithm to relax
in continuous phase case, and use chirp waveform as our
the discrete optimization problem as sequential convex QP
benchmark. For the continuous phase case, the reference
subproblems. The optimal solution is then obtained by quan-
waveform s0 ∈ CNT N ×1 can be obtained by stacking the
tizing the solution of QP to its nearest neighbor. Compared
columns of S0 , which we choose as the following orthogonal
with the exhaustive search, the computational complexity has
chirp waveform matrix without loss of generality
been significantly reduced. Numerical results reveal that the
2 proposed approach only yields slight performance-loss with
exp[j2πk(n − 1)/N ] exp[jπ(n − 1) /N ]
S0 (k, n) = √ (30) respect to that of the continuous phase case.

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