Rethinking information theory for mobile ad hoc networks

Jeffrey Andrews*, Sanjay Shakkottai, Robert Heath, Nihar Jindal, Martin Haenggi, Randy Berry, Dongning Guo, Michael Neely, Steven Weber, Syed Jafar, Aylin Yener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations

Abstract

The subject of this article is the long standing open problem of developing a general capacity theory for wireless networks, particularly a theory capable of describing the fundamental performance limits of mobile ad hoc networks. A MANET is a peer-to-peer network with no preexisting infrastructure. MANETs are the most general wireless networks, with single-hop, relay, interference, mesh, and star networks comprising special cases. The lack of a MANET capacity theory has stunted the development and commercialization of many types of wireless networks, including emergency, military, sensor, and community mesh networks. Information theory, which has been vital for links and centralized networks, has not been successfully applied to decentralized wireless networks. Even if this was accomplished, for such a theory to truly characterize the limits of deployed MANETs it must overcome three key roadblocks. First, most current capacity results rely on the allowance of unbounded delay and reliability. Second, spatial and timescale decompositions have not yet been developed for optimally modeling the spatial and temporal dynamics of wireless networks. Third, a useful network capacity theory must integrate rather than ignore the important role of overhead messaging and feedback. This article describes some of the shifts in thinking that may be needed to overcome these roadblocks and develop a more general theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-101
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Volume46
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Ad hoc networks
  • Delay
  • Information theory
  • Mobile ad hoc networks
  • Robustness
  • Routing
  • Wireless networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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