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Keynote Address, IEEE Third International Symposium on Spread Spectrum Techniques & Applications Oiilu, Finland, July 4 - 6, 1994

Forty years ago, when I began to study shift reg- ister sequences, digital technology was in its infancy. The most advanced electronic computers still used vacuum tubes. The integrated circuit was not even

on the horizon. In that environment, a two-tap lin- ear shift register of length n, producing a random- looking binary bit stream of period 2” - 1 was an incre~libledevice. With only twenty active delay- line positions, and only two of these positions acces- sible, rising no logical circuitry except a single “half adder”, a binary sequence with a period of more than one million bits could be generated! The first problem I addressed was how to pre- dict the periodicity of a linear shift register from the feedback tap connections. I quickly discovered the equivalence of this question with the primitivity of the roots of the corresponding polynomials over

the field of two elements. Gradually 1 learned of the

long inathematicid history of this problem, in which roiiirection the na.mes of L. Euler (ca. 1760), E. Lo- cas (ca. 1875), a.iitl 0. Ore (ca. 1933) deserve special mention.

I also noticed that these “inhwimllm-leirgtlr lin-

ear shift register

sequences”, named m-seqlierlces by

Neal Zierler, hat1 several properties suggestive of ran- doinness. Three of these, which I (lesignatetl “R-I”,

“K-2”,and “IL-3”, were the following:

R-I. In a Iiin;~.rysequeim: of period 2“ - I,

therc arc 2“-’ onps and 2‘1-1 - lThe “1)alance i)roI)erty.”l

R-2. In each period (of length 2”- l),there

are 2”-2 runs of ones alternating

runs of zeroes. Half the runs of each kind

length 1, one-fourth of the runs of each

type have length 2, and in general

of the




with 2n-2

runs of each type (i.e. 2”-k-2 runs of each

type) have length

k, for

1 5 k 5

n -


In addition, there is a single run


n -


zeroes, and a single run of n ones. [The

“run property.”]

R-3. Compared with every non-identical cyclic shift of itself, the sequence has 2”-’ - 1 “agreements” and 2“-’ “disagreements.” If we regard the sequence as consisting of +l’s and -1’s (instead of 0’s and l’s), then its normalized autocorrelation func- tion C(r) satisfies C(T)= 1 when 7 is a multiple of the period p = 2” - 1, and C(7)= -l/p for all other values of r. [The “two-level correlation property.”]

These ”randomness properties” made the m-

sequences particularly useful in many applications which have subsequently been referred to as ”spread spectrum”, and more specifically “direct sequence spread spectrum.” In the last few years, in the context of digital cellular commnnications, these se- quences now form the basis of code division multiple access (CDMA) technology. There are several other properties of m-sequences which are worth noting. One of these is:

The cycle-and-add property: ‘Tf an m-sequence is added, term-by-term modulo 2, to any non-identical cyclic shift of itself, the result is another cyclic shift.” This property actually chamcterizes the m-

sequences. It can be restated as follows:

‘‘The 2” - 1

cyclic shifts of an m-sequence of period p = 2“ - 1,

together with the sequence of 2”- 1 zerues, regarded

as a set of 2” vectors of leneth 2“ - 1 over the field

GF(2) of two elements, form a subspace of the space of all 2P binary vectors of length p = 2“ - 1.” [The subspace property.] The Utwo-levelcorrelation property”, IL-3,follows immediately from the ”cycle-and-add property” of m-sequences. However, the binary sequences of pe- riod p (not necessarily of the form p = 2“ - l) with

two-level autocorrelation (9agreements anti


disagreements with all non-identical cyclic shifts) are

a larger class, and correspond to the combinatorial

olijects called “cyclic Hatlamartl difference sets.” All known examples of cyclic Hadamard difference sets

4) where either i) p = 2”- 1,n > 1,

= r(r + 2)

where r and r +2 are both primes (the twin-prime examples). Over thirty years ago, with little di- rect evidence, I conjectured that all cyclic Hatlamard difference sets must have periods of one of these three types. The experimental evidence for this is now quite impressive, though there is still little

theoretical basis for this conjecture. Even in the case of cyclic Hadamard difference sets with period p = 2“ - 1, which includes all the m-sequences, we do not yet know all of the inequivalent constructions which yield examples. Several member of my group (H.-Y. Song; D. Rutan; etc.) at USC, as weIl as my long-time colleague Lloyd Welch, are actively inves- tigating these unresolved questions concerning the existence of two-level-correlation sequences. The “run property”, R-2, follows easily from the fact that in an m-sequence of period p = 2” - 1, all possible subsequences of length n, except for n con- secutive zeroes, occur within each period, each ex-

have p I 3 (mod

ii) p = 41 - 1 is a prime, 1 2

1; or iii) p

a.ctly once [the “span-n” property]. There ax only ~(2“- I)/n z 2”/n different In-sequences of periocr 1, = 2” - I, but there are P”-l-’i ciilferciit span-n sequences with this period, all ol~t;iinablefrom itoiz- lineur shift registers of length n. (These dilfer froill the “de Bruiin seqwnces” of span 71 simply by oinit-

ting a single zero from the unique run of n zeroes in t.lre dc Bruijn scquence.) In their book Cipher Systems, H. Deker and F. Piper introduce the term G-mndomness for se- quences with all three properties R-I,R-2,ant1 R-3.

It was shown I)y U. Cheng that G-randomness is insufficient to characterize m-sequences. (In partic-

ular, there is a sequence of period p = 127 which has

Grandomness but is not an m-sequence.) However, the “span-n” property is more restrictive than the “run property” It-2,and I have long conjectured that the span-n property (modified de Bruijn sequences) togcther with R-3 (the two-level correlation prop- rrty) can be satisfied oiily by m-sequences. This conjecture lias now been verified for n 5 9 (period 1’5 29 - 1 = 511), but no proof is yet in sight. Shift register sequences have beeu used in both pulse and CW radar systems for several decades. The first attempt at radar contact with another planet, Venus, conducted by Lincoln La1)oratories in the late 1950’s, used pulse radar modulated by an 711-seqnenca of period 213 - 1 = 8191. The JPL interplanetary ranging system, developed in 1959- 60, used a CW signal with binary phase modulation spccificd by a long sequence obtained as a Boolean conil)ination of several short-period shift registcr se-

quences. Incidentally, it was at JPL that we had the first successfulradar contact with Venus, on March,

IO, lSG1.

Much of the early impetus for the use of “direct se- quence spread spectrum” was to make military com niunications relatively resistant to jamming. Using only m-sequences for this purpose assumes a very unsophisticated jammer. The “cycle-and-add” prop- erty enables the jammer, without even “deciphering” the sequence, to generate a forward time-shift of the

intended modulating sequence, which might be used successfully to fool the receiver. A trivial exercise in linear dnebra over GF(2), “rediscovered” in nu- merous algebraic coding/decoding contexts, enables one to determine the span and the recursion of any linear sequence from a small number of its terms. To achieve more jam resistance, or any degree of resis- tance to deciphering, it is necessary either to subject linear sequences to nonlinear operations, or to gen- erate nonlinear sequences to begin with. To the extent that the successive bits of a shift reg- ister sequence (linear or nonlinear) are sufficiently random for the application, consecutive blocks of k bits may be interpreted as k-bit binary num- bers which are then used to specify 2’; different fre- quencies in a pseudo-random frequency-hop spread spectrum system. I am not aware of any non- military motivation for employing frequency hop- ping to achieve spread-spectrum communications, but there may be some tlutriirdly hostile communi- cation environments for which this type of system would be appropriate. Short m-sequences have been employed as syn- chronization patterns in a variety of applications, including such use for initial lock-up in spread spec- trum systems. Many other uses of shift register se- quences unrelated to spread spectrum applicatious could be enumerated, but that is beyond the scope of the present paper. The commercial use of shift register sequences in CDMA cellular communications closely resetihles the “direct sequence spread spectrum” military sys- tems, but the justification is different. A hostile jam- mer is not assumed to be present in the cellular coin- munication application. Instead, CDMA packs more calls into the same bandwidth, with a lower power level per call, than the principal alternatives which have been proposed. Other speakers at this sympo- sium, however, are both better qualified and more strongly motivated financially than I to elaborate on the virtues of CDMA for cellular communications applications.