Radio frequency interference excision using spectral-domain statistics

Gelu Nita, Dale Gary, Zhiwei Liu, Gordon J. Hurford, Stephen M. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A radio frequency interference (RFI) excision algorithm based on spectral kurtosis, a spectral variant of time-domain kurtosis, is proposed and implemented in software. The algorithm works by providing a robust estimator for Gaussian noise that, when violated, indicates the presence of non-Gaussian RFI. A theoretical formalism is used that unifies the well-known time-domain kurtosis estimator with past work related to spectral kurtosis, and leads naturally to a single expression encompassing both. The algorithm accumulates the first two powers of M power spectral density (PSD) estimates, obtained via Fourier transform, to form a spectral kurtosis (SK) estimator whose expected statistical variance is used to define an RFI detection threshold. The performance of the algorithm is theoretically evaluated for different time-domain RFI characteristics and signal-to-noise ratios η. The theoretical performance of the algorithm for intermittent RFI (RFI present in R out of M PSD estimates) is evaluated and shown to depend greatly on the duty cycle, d = R/M. The algorithm is most effective for d = 1/(4 + η), but cannot distinguish RFI from Gaussian noise at any η when d = 0.5. The expected efficiency and robustness of the algorithm are tested using data from the newly designed FASR Subsystem Testbed radio interferometer operating at the Owens Valley Solar Array. The ability of the algorithm to discriminate RFI against the temporally and spectrally complex radio emission produced during solar radio bursts is demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-827
Number of pages23
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number857
StatePublished - Jul 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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