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The complete statistical description of a first-order correlative tracking system with periodic nonlinearity is shown to be embedded in a renewal process. The time-dependent probability density function of the phase error, as well as the distribution of the cycle slips, is computed. The use of the renewal process approach makes it possible for the first time to compute the distribution of the positive and negative number of cycle slips within a given time interval. This information is sufficient to determine the probability density function of the absolute phase error.