The pros and cons of compressive sensing for wideband signal acquisition: Noise folding versus dynamic range

Mark A. Davenport, Jason N. Laska, John R. Treichler, Richard G. Baraniuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Compressive sensing (CS) exploits the sparsity present in many signals to reduce the number of measurements needed for digital acquisition. With this reduction would come, in theory, commensurate reductions in the size, weight, power consumption, and/or monetary cost of both signal sensors and any associated communication links. This paper examines the use of CS in the design of a wideband radio receiver in a noisy environment. We formulate the problem statement for such a receiver and establish a reasonable set of requirements that a receiver should meet to be practically useful. We then evaluate the performance of a CS-based receiver in two ways: via a theoretical analysis of its expected performance, with a particular emphasis on noise and dynamic range, and via simulations that compare the CS receiver against the performance expected from a conventional implementation. On the one hand, we show that CS-based systems that aim to reduce the number of acquired measurements are somewhat sensitive to signal noise, exhibiting a 3 dB SNR loss per octave of subsampling, which parallels the classic noise-folding phenomenon. On the other hand, we demonstrate that since they sample at a lower rate, CS-based systems can potentially attain a significantly larger dynamic range. Hence, we conclude that while a CS-based system has inherent limitations that do impose some restrictions on its potential applications, it also has attributes that make it highly desirable in a number of important practical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6204356
Pages (from-to)4628-4642
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2012


  • Analog-to-digital conversion
  • compressive sensing
  • dynamic range
  • noise
  • peak-to-average power ratio
  • sampling
  • wideband radio receivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Signal Processing


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