A Review of Sparse Sensor Arrays for Two-Dimensional Direction-of-Arrival Estimation

Ibrahim Aboumahmoud, Ali Muqaibel*, Mohammad Alhassoun, Saleh Alawsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Two-dimensional (2D) arrays are fundamental to localization applications. Specifically, sparse arrays can provide superior direction-of-arrival (DoA) estimation performance with limited number of sensors. There has been increased interest in the research community in designing 2D sparse arrays with performance improvement and complexity reduction. The research efforts are uncoordinated resulting in some repetitions and sometimes conflicting claims. After introducing 2D sparse arrays and their importance, this paper establishes the 2D-DoA estimation model and consolidates the performance metrics. An extensive literature overview of sparse arrays for 2D-DoA estimation is presented with an attempt to categorize existing works. The examined arrays include parallel arrays, L-shaped, V-shaped, hourglass, thermos, nested planer, and coprime planner, to name a few. Existing designs are compared in terms of required number of sensors, degrees of freedom (DOF), algorithm used, associated complexity and aperture size. The focus is on describing the sparse arrays, yet some specific details on DoA estimation algorithms are provided for selected array geometries. Fundamental problems of 2D-DoA estimation are outlined and existing solutions to alleviate these problems are discussed. This should be useful in predicting the estimation performance and required complexity; thus, aiding the decision of selecting a sensor geometry for DoA estimation. This review serves as a starting point for researchers interested in exploring or designing new 2D sparse arrays. It also helps to identify the gaps in the field and avoids unnecessary minor design modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9465145
Pages (from-to)92999-93017
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 IEEE.


  • 2D-DoA estimation
  • Antenna arrays
  • array signal processing
  • direction-of-arrival estimation
  • planar arrays
  • sensor arrays
  • sparse arrays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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