Cooperative communication in wireless networks: algorithms, protocols and systems
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Current wireless network solutions are based on a link abstraction where a single co-channel transmitter transmits in any time duration. This model severely limits the performance that can be obtained from the network. Being inherently an extension of a wired network model, this model is also incapable of handling the unique challenges that arise in a wireless medium. The prevailing theme of this research is to explore wireless link abstractions that incorporate the broadcast and space-time varying nature of the wireless channel. Recently, a new paradigm for wireless networks which uses the idea of 'cooperative transmissions' (CT) has garnered significant attention. Unlike current approaches where a single transmitter transmits at a time in any channel, with CT, multiple transmitters transmit concurrently after appropriately encoding their transmissions. While the physical layer mechanisms for CT have been well studied, the higher layer applicability of CT has been relatively unexplored. In this work, we show that when wireless links use CT, several network performance metrics such as aggregate throughput, security and spatial reuse can be improved significantly compared to the current state of the art. In this context, our first contribution is Aegis, a framework for securing wireless networks against eavesdropping which uses CT with intelligent scheduling and coding in Wireless Local Area networks. The second contribution is Symbiotic Coding, an approach to encode information such that successful reception is possible even upon collisions. The third contribution is Proteus, a routing protocol that improves aggregate throughput in multi-hop networks by leveraging CT to adapt the rate and range of links in a flow. Finally, we also explore the practical aspects of realizing CT using real systems.