Capacity of Gaussian channels with duty cycle and power constraints

Lei Zhang, Hui Li, Dongning Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In many wireless communication systems, radios are subject to a duty cycle constraint, that is, a radio can only actively transmit signals over a fraction of the time. For example, it is desirable to have a small duty cycle in some low power systems; a half-duplex radio cannot keep transmitting if it wishes to receive useful signals; and a cognitive radio needs to listen and detect primary users frequently. This paper studies the capacity of point-to-point scalar discrete-time Gaussian channels subject to a duty cycle constraint as well as an average transmit power constraint. An idealized duty cycle constraint is first studied, which can be regarded as a requirement on the minimum fraction of nontransmissions or zero symbols in each codeword. Independent input with a unique discrete distribution is shown to achieve the channel capacity. In many situations, numerically optimized on-off signaling can achieve much higher rate than Gaussian signaling over a deterministic transmission schedule. This is in part because the positions of nontransmissions in a codeword can convey information. A more realistic duty cycle constraint is also studied, where the extra cost of transitions between transmissions and nontransmissions due to pulse shaping is accounted for. The capacity-achieving input is correlated over time and is hard to compute. A lower bound of the achievable rate as a function of the input distribution is shown to be maximized by a first-order Markov input process, whose stationary distribution is also discrete and can be computed efficiently. The results in this paper suggest that, under various duty cycle constraints, departing from the usual paradigm of intermittent packet transmissions may yield substantial gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6690191
Pages (from-to)1615-1629
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Capacity-achieving input
  • Markov process
  • Monte Carlo method
  • channel capacity
  • duty cycle
  • entropy rate
  • hidden Markov process (HMP)
  • mutual information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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