Coded unicast downstream traffic in a wireless network: analysis and WiFi implementation Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article, we design, analyze and implement a network coding based scheme for the problem of transmitting multiple unicast streams from a single access point to multiple receivers. In particular, we consider the scenario in which an access point has access to infinite streams of data to be distributed to their intended receivers. After each time slot, the access point receives acknowledgments on previous transmissions. Based on the acknowledgements, it decides on the structure of a coded or uncoded packet to be broadcast to all receivers in the next slot. The goal of the access point is to maximize the cumulative throughput or discounted cumulative throughput in the system. We first rigorously model the relevant coding problem and the information available to the access point and the receivers. We then formulate the problem using a Markov decision process with an infinite horizon, analyze the value function under the uncoded and coded policies and, despite the exponential number of states, devise greedy and semi-greedy policies with a running time which is polynomial with high probability. We then analyze the two users case in more detail and show the optimality of the semi-greedy policy in that case. Finally, we describe a simple implementation of the suggested concepts within a WiFi open-source driver. The implementation performs the network coding such that the enhanced WiFi architecture is transparent above the MAC layer.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013