Asee peer logo

A Correlation Detector Simulation

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Computer Simulation and Animation I

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.26.1 - 13.26.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Reising University of Evansville

visit author page

JAMES A. REISING is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana, where he has taught since 1980. Prior to that time he was employed by Eagle-Picher Industries at the Miami Research Laboratories and the Electro-Optic Materials Department. He is a senior member of IEEE.

visit author page


Mark Randall University of Evansville

visit author page

Mark E. Randall is a Staff Engineer for the University of Evansville College of Engineering and Computer Science. He is presently working on a Master of Science Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Evansville. Mark has two undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics Technology from Indiana State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Evansville. Mark has competed in several IEEE SoutheastCon student hardware contests and was the co-designer of the University of Evansvills 2006 winning entry†Gizm.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Correlation Detector Simulation Abstract

In some detection processes, such as radar, sonar, and seismology, the cross-correlation of a known signal and a time-delayed version of the same signal with additive noise can be used to determine the time delay between the transmitted pulse and the return pulse. Such a procedure is relatively easy to rationalize intuitively. (The scheme may also be viewed as filtering the return signal with a matched filter, but the convolution of the signal with the impulse response of the matched filter may be harder for students, especially those who have studied neither linear systems nor digital filters, to grasp.)

A computer simulation of the cross-correlation detection process was originally assigned as a graphical programming project in a computer software class. The simple model used in the assignment assumed a sinusoidal signal of adjustable duration as the transmitted pulse and a delayed version of the same pulse with added white noise as the received pulse. Two noise models were available to the user: zero-mean uniformly distributed white noise and zero-mean Gaussian white noise of adjustable variance. The amplitude of the added noise was to be adjustable by the user. The transmitted pulse and the received signal were displayed in separate plots, and the cross-correlation of the transmitted pulse and the received signal was displayed in a third plot. Both signals and the cross-correlation were represented by finite length sequences.

A simple view of the detection process is included as part of the assignment. The transmitted signal is a pattern to be compared to the received signal at different time offsets. Since the noise is random and many samples are taken during one period of the sinusoidal pulse, the noise tends to cancel as the terms in the cross-correlation are added. The maximum “match” of the pattern occurs when the pattern is offset by the time delay represented in the received signal. The graphical presentation showed that, even in cases where a visual inspection of the received signal showed no hint of a pulse in the received signal, the cross-correlation clearly indicated the delay time of the received pulse.

The program allowed users to experiment with different noise amplitudes and delay times, and the visual presentation was quite dramatic. The concept seemed useful enough that the authors developed a program with a bit more functionality for use in a random processes course, where the topic of matched filters was part of the course material. In addition to a simple time delay, the pulse in the received signal was attenuated.


The original project was assigned in a computer software course covering C#.NET. Most of the students in the course were computer engineering majors. The focus of the programming aspect of the problem was the graphical user interface and graphics. The problem itself was chosen to include topics from a random processes course. The computer program provided a tool to enhance student understanding of a topic that had appeared difficult for students to grasp in the past.

Reising, J., & Randall, M. (2008, June), A Correlation Detector Simulation Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3625

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015