Publication# Delay and coding in multiple-user communications

Abstract

In multiple-user communications, the bursty nature of the packet arrival times cannot be divorced from the analysis of the transmission process. However, in traditional information theory the random arrival times are smoothed out by appropriated source coding and no consideration is made for the end-to-end delay. In this thesis, using tools from network theory, we investigate simple models that consider the end-to-end delay and/or the variability of the packet arrivals as important parameters, while staying in a information theoretic framework. First, we simplify the problem and focus on the transmission of a bursty source over a single-user channel. We introduce a new measure of channel features that enable us to incorporate the possibility to code among several packets in a scheduling problem. In this setup, we look for policies that minimize the average packet delay. Assuming that the packets are independent and sufficiently large to perform capacity achieving coding, we then consider the problem of allocating rates among a finite number of users communicating through a multiple-user channel. Following the previous work in the context of multiple-access channel, we formulate a scheduling problem in which the rate of each user is chosen from the capacity region of the multiple-user channel. Here, the goal is to find a scheduling policy that minimizes the sum of the transmitter queue lengths, such a policy is called delay optimal. In particular settings, for the additive Gaussian multiple-access channel we show the delay optimality of the Longer Queue Higher Rate policy introduced by Yeh. And, when the users communicate through a symmetric broadcast channel, we propose and show the delay optimality of a Best User Highest Possible Rate policy, among a large class of admissible policies. Finally, in the last part of this thesis, we look at the multiple-user channel coding problem from the perspective of the receivers. By measuring the transmission rates at the receivers, we are able to define variable length codes and to characterize the region of achievable rates when the receivers can decode their intended messages at different instants of time. For the two-user degraded broadcast channel and for the two-user multiple-access channel, we show that the gain in using variable length codes essentially comes from the possibility for the receivers to decode the transmitted messages in non-overlapping periods of time.

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Shannon, in his landmark 1948 paper, developed a framework for characterizing the fundamental limits of information transmission. Among other results, he showed that reliable communication over a channel is possible at any rate below its capacity. In 2008, Arikan discovered polar codes; the only class of explicitly constructed low-complexity codes that achieve the capacity of any binary-input memoryless symmetric-output channel. Arikan's polar transform turns independent copies of a noisy channel into a collection of synthetic almost-noiseless and almost-useless channels. Polar codes are realized by sending data bits over the almost-noiseless channels and recovering them by using a low-complexity successive-cancellation (SC) decoder, at the receiver. In the first part of this thesis, we study polar codes for communications. When the underlying channel is an erasure channel, we show that almost all correlation coefficients between the erasure events of the synthetic channels decay rapidly. Hence, the sum of the erasure probabilities of the information-carrying channels is a tight estimate of the block-error probability of polar codes when used for communication over the erasure channel. We study SC list (SCL) decoding, a method for boosting the performance of short polar codes. We prove that the method has a numerically stable formulation in log-likelihood ratios. In hardware, this formulation increases the decoding throughput by 53% and reduces the decoder's size about 33%. We present empirical results on the trade-off between the length of the CRC and the performance gains in a CRC-aided version of the list decoder. We also make numerical comparisons of the performance of long polar codes under SC decoding with that of short polar codes under SCL decoding. Shannon's framework also quantifies the secrecy of communications. Wyner, in 1975, proposed a model for communications in the presence of an eavesdropper. It was shown that, at rates below the secrecy capacity, there exist reliable communication schemes in which the amount of information leaked to the eavesdropper decays exponentially in the block-length of the code. In the second part of this thesis, we study the rate of this decay. We derive the exact exponential decay rate of the ensemble-average of the information leaked to the eavesdropper in Wyner's model when a randomly constructed code is used for secure communications. For codes sampled from the ensemble of i.i.d. random codes, we show that the previously known lower bound to the exponent is exact. Our ensemble-optimal exponent for random constant-composition codes improves the lower bound extant in the literature. Finally, we show that random linear codes have the same secrecy power as i.i.d. random codes. The key to securing messages against an eavesdropper is to exploit the randomness of her communication channel so that the statistics of her observation resembles that of a pure noise process for any sent message. We study the effect of feedback on this approximation and show that it does not reduce the minimum entropy rate required to approximate a given process. However, we give examples where variable-length schemes achieve much larger exponents in this approximation in the presence of feedback than the exponents in systems without feedback. Upper-bounding the best exponent that block codes attain, we conclude that variable-length coding is necessary for achieving the improved exponents.

For the past 70 years or so, coding theorists have been aiming at designing transmission schemes with efficient encoding and decoding algorithms that achieve the capacity of various noisy channels. It was not until the '90s that graph-based codes, such as low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes, and their associated low-complexity iterative decoding algorithms were discovered and studied in depth. Although these schemes are efficient, they are not, in general, capacity-achieving. More specifically, these codes perform well up to some algorithmic threshold on the channel parameter, which is lower than the optimal threshold. The gap between the algorithmic and optimal thresholds was finally closed by spatial coupling. In the context of coding, the belief propagation algorithm on spatially coupled codes yields capacity-achieving low-complexity transmission schemes. The reason behind the optimal performance of spatially coupled codes is

`seeding'' perfect information on the replicas at the boundaries of the coupling chain. This extra information makes decoding easier near the boundaries, and this effect is then propagated into the coupling chain upon iterations of the decoding algorithm. Spatial coupling was also applied to various other problems that are governed by low-complexity message-passing algorithms, such as random constraint satisfaction problems, compressive sensing, and statistical physics. Each system has an associated algorithmic threshold and an optimal threshold. As with coding, once the underlying graphs are spatially coupled, the algorithms for these systems exhibit optimal performance. In this thesis, we analyze the performance of iterative low-complexity message-passing algorithms on general spatially coupled systems, and we specialize our results in coding theory applications. To do this, we express the evolution of the state of the system (along iterations of the algorithm) in a variational form, in terms of the so-called potential functional, in the continuum limit approximation. This thesis consists of two parts. In the first part, we consider the dynamic phase of the message-passing algorithm, in which iterations of the algorithm modify the state of the spatially coupled system. Assuming that the boundaries of the coupled chain are appropriately `

seeded'', we find a closed-form analytical formula for the velocity with which the extra information propagates into the chain. We apply this result to coupled irregular LDPC code-ensembles with transmission over general BMS channels and to coupled general scalar systems. We perform numerical simulations for several applications and show that our formula gives values that match the empirical, observed velocity. This confirms that the continuum limit is an approximation well-suited to the derivation of the formula. In the second part of this thesis, we consider the static phase of the message-passing algorithm, when it can no longer modify the state of the system. We introduce a novel proof technique that employs displacement convexity, a mathematical tool from optimal transport, to prove that the potential functional is strictly displacement convex under an alternative structure in the space of probability measures. We hence establish the uniqueness of the state to which the spatially coupled system converges, and we characterize it. We apply this result to the (l,r)-regular Gallager ensemble with transmission over the BEC and to coupled general scalar systems.Michael Christoph Gastpar, Sung Hoon Lim, Jingge Zhu

Computation codes in network information theory are designed for scenarios where the decoder is not interested in recovering the information sources themselves, but only a function thereof. Körner and Marton showed for distributed source coding (DSC) that such function decoding can be achieved more efficiently than decoding the full information sources. Compute–forward has shown that function decoding, in combination with network coding ideas, is a useful building block for end-to-end communication over a network. In both cases, good computation codes are the key component in the coding schemes. Could these same codes simultaneously also enable full message decoding over a sufficiently strong multiple-access channel (MAC)? This work establishes a partial negative answer and converse result. Specifically, for any code that is known to be a good computation code for some MAC, we characterize a class of MACs for which that code cannot enable full message decoding (and vice versa). Finally, an analogous duality result is established for a related DSC problem.

2019