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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Dennis Goeckel

Subject Categories

Systems and Communications


This dissertation studies covert wireless communications where a transmitter (Alice) intends to transmit messages to a legitimate receiver (Bob) such that the presence of the message is hidden from an attentive warden (Willie). Here we consider pertinent aspects of covert communications that focus on moving such systems closer to implementation. For example, previous studies use the standard discrete-time communication model when analyzing covert communications, since this is commonly assumed without loss of generality in standard communication theory. However, it is not clear that such a model captures the salient aspects of the continuous-time covert communications problem. A power detector that is optimal for the warden in a discrete-time covert communications scenario may not be optimal on a continuous- time model. Thus, it is of interest to consider this more realistic model for physical channels. After analyzing a power optimization problem using the standard discrete-time model, we move to the key part of system implementation: the instantiation in true continuous-time systems of the discrete-time models studied to this point in the literature. A key goal is to examine Willie’s detection capability on a continuous-time model and study how the limits of covert communications change from the discrete-time case. In particular, we show that detectors for Willie can benefit from the continuous-time setting and outperform detectors based on the discrete-time model; not surprisingly, this has a significant impact on the true covert throughput of the system. Nevertheless, we establish constructions such that efficient covert communications can still be achieved in a continuous-time model, and prove the fundamental limit on the covert communication rate. After considering the continuous-time problem in detail, we then turn to addressing another limitation of previous work - the requirement for an intentional jammer to facilitate efficient covert communication. Instead, we consider how to exploit a pre-existing interference source – a radar - to achieve covert communication. We establish a covert communication scheme in such an environment, and analyze the corresponding covert rate. Finally, we consider the use of a detection technique similar to that in the covert communications problem, in the area of quantized signal detection.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.