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This paper addresses the design and performance of time-recursive receivers for diversity based communication systems with flat Rayleigh or Ricean fading. The paper introduces a general state-space model for such systems, where there is temporal correlation in the channel gain. Such an approach encompasses a wide range of diversity systems such as spatial diversity, frequency diversity, and code diversity systems which are used in practice. The paper describes a number of noncoherent receiver structures derived from both sequence and a posteriori probability-based cost functions and compares their performance using an orthogonal frequency-division multiplex example. In this example, the paper shows how a standard physical delay-Doppler scattering channel model can be approximated by the proposed state-space model. The simulations show that significant performance gains can be made by exploiting temporal, as well as diversity channel correlations. The paper argues that such time-recursive receivers offer some advantages over block processing schemes such as computational and memory requirement reductions and the easier incorporation of adaptivity in the receiver structures.