Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Naima Kaabouch


With the increase of portable devices utilization and ever-growing demand for greater data rates in wireless transmission, an increasing demand for spectrum channels was observed since last decade. Conventionally, licensed spectrum channels are assigned for comparatively long time spans to the license holders who may not over time continuously use these channels, which creates an under-utilized spectrum. The inefficient utilization of inadequate wireless spectrum resources has motivated researchers to look for advanced and innovative technologies that enable an efficient use of the spectrum resources in a smart and efficient manner.

The notion of Cognitive Radio technology was proposed to address the problem of spectrum inefficiency by using underutilized frequency bands in an opportunistic method. A cognitive radio system (CRS) is aware of its operational and geographical surroundings and is capable of dynamically and independently adjust its functioning. Thus, CRS functionality has to be addressed with smart sensing and intelligent decision making techniques. Therefore, spectrum sensing is one of the most essential CRS components. The few sensing techniques that have been proposed are complicated and come with the price of false detection under heavy noise and jamming scenarios. Other techniques that ensure better detection performance are very sophisticated and costly in terms of both processing and hardware.

The objective of the thesis is to study and understand the three of the most basic spectrum sensing techniques i.e. energy detection, correlation based sensing, and matched filter sensing. Simulation platforms were developed for each of the three methods using GNU radio and python interpreted language. The simulated performances of the three methods have been analyzed through several test matrices and also were compared to observe and understand the corresponding strengths and weaknesses. These simulation results provide the understanding and base for the hardware implementation of spectrum sensing techniques and work towards a combined sensing approach with improved sensing performance with less complexity.