Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Pramod K. Varshney


Biometrics, Detection Theory, Hypothesis Testing, Multimodal, Multisensor Fusion, Neural Synchrony

Subject Categories

Electrical and Computer Engineering


Statistical decision making has wide ranging applications, from communications and signal processing to econometrics and finance. In contrast to the classical one source-one receiver paradigm, several applications have been identified in the recent past that require acquiring data from multiple sources or sensors. Information from the multiple sensors are transmitted to a remotely located receiver known as the fusion center which makes a global decision. Past work has largely focused on fusion of information from homogeneous sensors. This dissertation extends the formulation to the case when the local sensors may possess disparate sensing modalities. Both the theoretical and practical aspects of multimodal signal processing are considered.

The first and foremost challenge is to 'adequately' model the joint statistics of such heterogeneous sensors. We propose the use of copula theory for this purpose. Copula models are general descriptors of dependence. They provide a way to characterize the nonlinear functional relationships between the multiple modalities, which are otherwise difficult to formalize. The important problem of selecting the `best' copula function from a given set of valid copula densities is addressed, especially in the context of binary hypothesis testing problems. Both, the training-testing paradigm, where a training set is assumed to be available for learning the copula models prior to system deployment, as well as generalized likelihood ratio test (GLRT) based fusion rule for the online selection and estimation of copula parameters are considered. The developed theory is corroborated with extensive computer simulations as well as results on real-world data.

Sensor observations (or features extracted thereof) are most often quantized before their transmission to the fusion center for bandwidth and power conservation. A detection scheme is proposed for this problem assuming unifom scalar quantizers at each sensor. The designed rule is applicable for both binary and multibit local sensor decisions. An alternative suboptimal but computationally efficient fusion rule is also designed which involves injecting a deliberate disturbance to the local sensor decisions before fusion. The rule is based on Widrow's statistical theory of quantization. Addition of controlled noise helps to 'linearize' the higly nonlinear quantization process thus resulting in computational savings. It is shown that although the introduction of external noise does cause a reduction in the received signal to noise ratio, the proposed approach can be highly accurate when the input signals have bandlimited characteristic functions, and the number of quantization levels is large.

The problem of quantifying neural synchrony using copula functions is also investigated. It has been widely accepted that multiple simultaneously recorded electroencephalographic signals exhibit nonlinear and non-Gaussian statistics. While the existing and popular measures such as correlation coefficient, corr-entropy coefficient, coh-entropy and mutual information are limited to being bivariate and hence applicable only to pairs of channels, measures such as Granger causality, even though multivariate, fail to account for any nonlinear inter-channel dependence. The application of copula theory helps alleviate both these limitations. The problem of distinguishing patients with mild cognitive impairment from the age-matched control subjects is also considered. Results show that the copula derived synchrony measures when used in conjunction with other synchrony measures improve the detection of Alzheimer's disease onset.


Open Access