Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Engineering & Mathematics


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Abdesselam Bouzerdoum

Second Advisor

Dr Daryoush Habibi


Modulation classification of digital communications signals plays an important role in both military and civilian sectors. It has the potential of replacing several receivers with one universal receiver. An automatic modulation classifier can be defined as a system that automatically identifies the modulation type of the received signal given that the signal exists and its parameters lie in a known range. This thesis addresses the need for a universal modulation classifier capable of classifying a comprehensive list of digital modulation schemes. Two classification approaches are presented: a decision-theoretic (DT) approach and a neural network (NN) approach. First classifiers are introduced that can classify ASK, PSK, and FSK signals. A decision tree is designed for the DT approach and a NN structure is formulated und trained to classify these signals. Both classifiers use the same key features derived from the intercepted signal. These features are based on the instantaneous amplitude, instantaneous phase, and instantaneous frequency of the intercepted signal, and the cumulates of its complex envelope. Threshold values for the DT approach are found from the minimum total error probabilities of the extracted key features at SNR of 20 to -5dB. The NN parameters are found by training the networks on the same data. The DT and NN classifiers are expanded to include CPM signals. Signals within the CPM class are also added to the classifiers and a separate decision tree and new NN structure are found far these signals. New key features to classify these signals are also introduced. The classifiers are then expanded further to include multiple access signals, followed by QAM, PSK8 and FSK8 signals. New features arc found to classify these signals. The final decision tree is able to accommodate a total of fifteen different modulation types. The NN structure is designed in a hierarchical fashion to optimise the classification performance of these fifteen digital modulation schemes. Both DT and NN classifiers are able to classify signals with more than 90% accuracy in the presence of additive white Gaussian within SNR ranging from 20 to 5dB. However, the performance of the NN classifier appears to be more robust as it degrades gradually at the SNRs of 0 and -5dB. At -5dB, the NN has an overall accuracy of 73.58%, whereas the DT classifier achieves only 47.3% accuracy. The overall accuracy of the NN classifier, over the combined SNR range of 20 to -5dB, is 90.7% compared to 84.56% for the DT classifier. Finally, the performances of these classifiers are tested in the presence of Rayleigh fading. The DT and NN classifier structures are modified to accommodate fading and again, new key features are introduced to accomplish this. With the modifications, the overall accuracy of the NN classifier, over the combined SNR range of 20 to -5dB and 120Hz Doppler shift, is 87.34% compared to 80.52% for the DT classifier.