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Abstract:We consider the problem of recovering the superposition of $R$ distinct complex exponential functions from compressed non-uniform time-domain samples. Total Variation (TV) minimization or atomic norm minimization was proposed in the literature to recover the $R$ frequencies or the missing data. However, it is known that in order for TV minimization and atomic norm minimization to recover the missing data or the frequencies, the underlying $R$ frequencies are required to be well-separated, even when the measurements are noiseless. This paper shows that the Hankel matrix recovery approach can super-resolve the $R$ complex exponentials and their frequencies from compressed non-uniform measurements, regardless of how close their frequencies are to each other. We propose a new concept of orthonormal atomic norm minimization (OANM), and demonstrate that the success of Hankel matrix recovery in separation-free super-resolution comes from the fact that the nuclear norm of a Hankel matrix is an orthonormal atomic norm. More specifically, we show that, in traditional atomic norm minimization, the underlying parameter values $\textbf{must}$ be well separated to achieve successful signal recovery, if the atoms are changing continuously with respect to the continuously-valued parameter. In contrast, for the OANM, it is possible the OANM is successful even though the original atoms can be arbitrarily close. As a byproduct of this research, we provide one matrix-theoretic inequality of nuclear norm, and give its proof from the theory of compressed sensing.