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2, MARCH 1999 589

A Comprehensive Double Knife-Edge Diffraction

Computation Method Based on the Complete Fresnel
Theory and a Recursive Series Expansion Method
Hatem Mokhtari

Abstract— This paper deals with the mathematical study of

the surface Fresnel integral (SFI) which enables a rigorous
computation of the double knife-edge diffraction. The proposed
method, which is based upon an analytical series calculation
for the SFI, becomes valid whatever the conditions of recep-
tion. Besides, the mathematical procedure that is proposed here
involves the incident shadow boundary neighborhood for both
knife-edge obstacles. Results are compared with some reference
well-known values which correspond to asymptotic cases, the Fig. 1. Geometry of double knife-edge system.
global system for mobile communications (GSM) and DCS1800
frequency bands, and a set of measurements. The suggested ana-
lytical method has been shown to be in very good agreement with the surface Fresnel integral (SFI) [6]. The authors considered
these expected particular theoretical values and field-strength
the diffracting screens to be nonabsorbent which simplifies
measurements, where different shadowing conditions, including
frequency dependence such as mobile communications bands, notably their formalism. The used assumptions will neither
have been considered for the sake of comparisons. be modified nor extended to any specific type of frequency-
dispersive screen. Only secondary sources will be considered
Index Terms— Diffraction, Fresnel theory, surface Fresnel in-
tegral. and screens assumed to be perfectly conductive, as the initial
investigation of Millington’s work stated.
The purpose of our investigation is to first give a quick
I. INTRODUCTION overview of this analytical method, to study in which con-
ditions it can be valid, and finally suggest a mathematical
T HE RADIO-WAVE propagation which involves diffrac-
tion, reflection, and refraction is an essential phenomenon
especially for field-strength prediction regardless of the con-
treatment for the SFI using a series expansion recursive
calculations which allow a comprehensive range of validity
cerned service or system, and many authors have been inter- of this analytical computation method.
ested by the behavior of the interaction of waves with obsta- As it has been previously pointed out, our efforts have been
cles. Diffraction is one of these important physical phenomena focused on how can this SFI be generalized and applied to
which have been investigated using different philosophies. The any receiving situation. Indeed, as a reminder, Millington et
most commonly studied methods are geometrical theory of al. [6] have derived asymptotic expressions for the SFI, but
diffraction (GTD), which is well known as an extension of the only restricted cases have been studied, namely, the situations
geometrical optics and involves polarizations and the physical where the observation point is located “deep in the shadow”
properties of the obstacles [1], and the Huyghens’ principal- for either obstacles or receiver, or in the case where either
based scalar approach [2], which considers only the secondary obstacle lies on the line of sight of the other.
fictive sources above each obstacle and, thus, by essence, does The calculations of the SFI that are considered in this paper
not consider dispersive lossy edges. Besides, there has been find their application especially in the case where optical rays
a great deal of simplifying methods whose formalism derives lie in this vicinity of the direct incident shadow boundaries
somehow from one of these two main approaches, such as (i.e., for both obstacles and the receiver), since accurate results
the Bullington [3] and Deygout [4] methods. Moreover, as a are given by Millington et al. in the asymptotic conditions (i.e.,
reference accurate method, Millington et al. [5] proposed an line of sight case and severe diffracting conditions). Moreover,
analytical calculation method for the attenuation by diffraction since the problem is of a mathematical nature, we find it
due to two successive obstacles. In their paper, they have necessary to describe in detail our procedure through the next
made use of the complete Fresnel theory which, thus, takes sections starting with an overview of its initial formulations.
account of the Huyghens’ principal and leads to the use of
Manuscript received September 19, 1996; revised August 18, 1997. A double knife-edge geometry is illustrated in Fig. 1, where
The author is with the Cellular Engineering Technical Group, MOBISTAR
N.V., 1200 Brussels, Belgium. one can easily see the different utilized parameters according
Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9545(99)00780-X. to the work achieved by Millington et al. [5].
0018–9545/99$10.00  1999 IEEE

The method as described in Millington’s paper neglects the computation method for solving (9) is merely based upon the
lateral profile effect and considers only vertical Huyghens’ series expansion of [8] given by
sources which led the authors to the expression for the
diffracted electric field at the receiver (see Fig. 1) divided
by the free-space one. The ratio of these two fields reads
and substituting (10) into (9) gives
where the used parameters are given by


(3) (11)
or in a different form, assuming the convergence of the series
(4) in (11), as follows:


(6) (12)

and for the sake of computing (12), one could define a complex

The properties of have been studied for a restricted (13)

set of conditions only as we have mentioned above.
remains then incompletely studied especially for intermediate Using a single integration by parts of (13), the following
values of Our mathematical calculations allow an accurate recursive equation is easily derived:
determination of in the case where lies within a
range of finite small values. Referring to the above-mentioned
paper [6], which describes the whole method of computing the
SFI, we may write in the following form:
Equation (14) is valid whatever be with the initial
(8) condition given by
which leads to the calculation of in (12) as the form below
When is sufficiently high, one can easily derive the
Epstein–Peterson model [7] which considers the case where where
the individual Fresnel parameters and of the obstacles to
be greater than 1.5. Accordingly, one should compute the cor- (17)
rection factor as it has been proved to be sin in Millington’s
paper [5]. At this stage, no intermediary expression, regarding and
the diffraction conditions, is available which led us to consider
this interesting situation especially when the diffracted ray lies (18)
within a reasonable range around the direct incident shadow
Finally, substituting (16) into (8) yields


Since propagation depends upon several parameters such (19)
as frequency, distances, and heights, we find it interesting
to examine the situations where shadowing conditions (i.e., Indeed, the very fast convergence of the series in (19)
for both obstacle or receiver) are not very severe so as to allowed us to sum its terms up to an integer fixed value, say
complete the range of validity of Millington’s approach. Our , which is sufficiently high to obtain the required



* Computed with the new approach using the series solution given by (19)


* Computed with the new approach using the series solution given by (19)
** See (20) * Computed with the new approach using the series solution given by (19)

accuracy. Beyond that value (i.e., ), the series which is, by evidence, a frequency-dependent parameter and
remains constant. Concerning the computation time, no more can be identified as the Fresnel parameter related to the
than 3.62 s are spent on a PC 80486/ 66 MHz when main obstacle as it is commonly used in single knife-edge
which is quite acceptable. diffraction calculation. That is the reason why in Table II the
operating frequency has been taken into account. Furthermore,
IV. EXAMPLES OF CALCULATION AND NUMERICAL RESULTS the relation in (21) is seemingly an appropriate asymptotic
approximation for the attenuation by diffraction in the case
As it has been stated previously, different situations for the where the Fresnel parameter exceeds 1.5. Also, in this case
receiver are taken into account in view of testing our method. (see Table II), results are in very good agreement.
For the sake of comparisons, we find it quite helpful to verify Coming now to the case where the diffracting conditions for
the validity of our calculations [i.e., (19) especially] in some both obstacles are neither severe nor on line of sight asymp-
particular asymptotic cases. The considered situations are those totic situations, we suggest to compare some experimental
where: 1) distances and are of equal spacing and both results in view of a realistic comparison of our method with the
obstacles of negligible heights; 2) obstacles are sufficiently measurements. Hence, results are reported in Table IV, where
separated and both obstacles of negligible heights; 3) obstacles individual Fresnel parameters have been added in order to
are very close to each other and both obstacles of negligible recognize that propagation is really around the incident shadow
heights; and 4) finally one obstacle is in the line of sight of boundaries. Table III summarizes the used parameters which
the remaining one. have been used by Giovanelli et al. [9].
In the case where the diffracted ray lies within a reasonable * Computed with the new approach using the series solution
range around the incident shadow boundary, some results are given by (19).
thus given in order to show that in such case our method It can be noticed that, from Table IV, also for that case
yields very good agreement with measurements and can also the Millington et al. method remains in very good agreement
be suitable for land mobile radio communications frequencies. with the experimental data. Furthermore, the prediction by the
Furthermore, frequency is assumed to be a fixed value since Epstein–Peterson method gives the worst value, which is quite
the purpose is to compare the validity of our computation expectable because of its limited range of validity. Besides,
method on the basis of one tested frequency value at a time. prediction by means of the Deygout procedure reveals that the
Results are reported in Tables I–III. propagation loss is slightly pessimistic in view of the obtained
Since the second obstacle lies in the line of sight of the first value.
one, its height is accordingly taken as (see Table II)

Referring once again to Millington’s work, the attenuation The computation of the SFI is indeed analytically intractable
in this case is given by unless one could use numerical two-dimensional (2-D) im-
proper integration which is well known as a time-consuming
procedure. However, Millington et al. [5] solved this problem
in some conditions using series expansion and appropriate
where the dimensionless parameter is given by approximations for a limiting set of conditions. Besides, the
method we have proposed in this investigation, which has been
(22) tested in several diffracting conditions, has been proved to be
accurate enough to be taken as a comprehensive method for

the double knife-edge diffraction calculation using the Fresnel [5] G. Millington, R. Hewitt, and F. S. Immirzi, “Double knife-edge
scalar approach derived by Millington et al. analyses. diffraction in field-strength prediction,” in IEE Monograph 507E, Mar.
1962, pp. 419–429.
However, since the novel proposed approach gives very [6] G. Millington, R. Hewitt, and F. S. Immirzi, “The Fresnel surface
good results with the asymptotic Epstein–Peterson method integral,” in IEE Monograph 508E, Mar. 1962, pp. 430–437.
[7] J. Esptein and D. W. Peterson, “An experimental study of wave
[7], where the diffracting conditions are very severe, for propagation at 830 Mc,” Proc. IRE, vol 41, no. 5, pp. 595–611, 1953.
computation time reasons, one could use this approximation [8] I. S. Gradshteyn and I. M. Ryzhik, Table of Integrals, Series and
rather than the series approach as it has been studied in this Products. New York: Academic, 1980.
[9] C. L. Giovanelli, “An analysis of simplified solutions for multiple knife-
paper. However, in intermediate diffracting conditions, our edge diffraction,” IEEE Trans. Antennas Propagat., vol. AP-32, pp.
method becomes more suitable in view of its accuracy as 297–301, Mar. 1984.
mentioned by the comparisons. [10] L. E. Vogler, “The attenuation of electromagnetic waves by multiple
knife-edge diffraction,” NTIA Rep. 20, Boulder, CO, Oct. 1981.
Furthermore, the implemented series expansion and iter-
ations method can be extended to the multiple knife-edge
problem which has been studied by Vogler [10] whose diffrac-
tion model is limited to up to ten obstacles. However, our Hattem Mokhtari was born on September 18, 1964 in Constantine, Algeria.
series expansion approach requires, for the multiple diffracting He received the B.S. degree in physics electronics from the University
of Constantine, Constantine, in 1986, the M.S. degree in electronics from
edges, a rigorous study of convergence since the integration the University of Nancy, Nancy, France, in 1987, and the Ph.D. degree in
domain becomes a hypervolume rather than a 2-D surface as electronics from the University of Metz, France, in 1992, where he worked
it has been previously demonstrated. on guided multiwire propagation phenomena such as in-circular lossy tunnels.
In September 1992, he joined TDF-C2R, the research center of
TéléDiffusion de France, where he was involved in several projects dealing
with frequency planning in radio communications and broadcasting networks,
REFERENCES radio-wave propagation modeling, planning tools design, and antenna pattern
synthesis and theoretical modeling. Since September 1997, he has been with
[1] R. J. Luebbers, “Finite conductivity uniform GTD versus knife-edge Mobistar, Brussels, Belgium, the second Belgian GSM operator, where he
diffraction in prediction of propagation path loss,” IEEE Trans. Antennas is in charge of radio parameters optimization and implementation of modern
Propagat., vol. AP-32, pp. 70–75, Jan. 1984. features such as microcellular concepts and slow-frequency hopping in view
[2] C. A. Balanis, Advanced Engineering Electromagnetics. New York: of reducing the effect of interferences in dense urban environments and,
Wiley, 1989. hence, improving the overall speech quality and geographical coverage. He is
[3] K. Bullington, “Radio propagation at frequencies about 30 Mc,” Proc. the author of several technical papers, most of them dedicated to theoretical
IRE, vol. 35, no. 10, pp. 1122–1136, 1947. upstream research topics. He was designated as a potential evaluator within the
[4] J. Deygout, “Multiple knife-edge diffraction of microwaves,” IEEE European Commission for the behalf of “Telematics Applications Programme”
Trans. Antennas Propagat., vol. AP-14, no. 4, pp. 480–489, 1966. projects from 1997 to 1998.