Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Timothy J Schulz


The degree of polarization of a refected field from active laser illumination can be used for object identifcation and classifcation. The goal of this study is to investigate methods for estimating the degree of polarization for refected fields with active laser illumination, which involves the measurement and processing of two orthogonal field components (complex amplitudes), two orthogonal intensity components, and the total field intensity. We propose to replace interferometric optical apparatuses with a computational approach for estimating the degree of polarization from two orthogonal intensity data and total intensity data. Cramer-Rao bounds for each of the three sensing modalities with various noise models are computed. Algebraic estimators and maximum-likelihood (ML) estimators are proposed. Active-set algorithm and expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm are used to compute ML estimates. The performances of the estimators are compared with each other and with their corresponding Cramer-Rao bounds. Estimators for four-channel polarimeter (intensity interferometer) sensing have a better performance than orthogonal intensities estimators and total intensity estimators. Processing the four intensities data from polarimeter, however, requires complicated optical devices, alignment, and four CCD detectors. It only requires one or two detectors and a computer to process orthogonal intensities data and total intensity data, and the bounds and estimator performances demonstrate that reasonable estimates may still be obtained from orthogonal intensities or total intensity data. Computational sensing is a promising way to estimate the degree of polarization.