Delay-sensitive Communications Code-Rates, Strategies, and Distributed Control
An ever increasing demand for instant and reliable information on modern communication networks forces codewords to operate in a non-asymptotic regime. To achieve reliability for imperfect channels in this regime, codewords need to be retransmitted from receiver to the transmit buffer, aided by a fast feedback mechanism. Large occupancy of this buffer results in longer communication delays. Therefore, codewords need to be designed carefully to reduce transmit queue-length and thus the delay experienced in this buffer. We first study the consequences of physical layer decisions on the transmit buffer occupancy. We develop an analytical framework to relate physical layer channel to the transmit buffer occupancy. We compute the optimal code-rate for finite-length codewords operating over a correlated channel, under certain communication service guarantees. We show that channel memory has a significant impact on this optimal code-rate.
Next, we study the delay in small ad-hoc networks. In particular, we find out what rates can be supported on a small network, when each flow has a certain end-to-end service guarantee. To this end, service guarantee at each intermediate link is characterized. These results are applied to study the potential benefits of setting up a network suitable for network coding in multicast. In particular, we quantify the gains of network coding over classic routing for service provisioned multicast communication over butterfly networks. In the wireless setting, we study the trade-off between communications gains achieved by network coding and the cost to set-up a network enabling network coding. In particular, we show existence of scenarios where one should not attempt to create a network suitable for coding.
Insights obtained from these studies are applied to design a distributed rate control algorithm in a large network. This algorithm maximizes sum-utility of all flows, while satisfying per-flow end-to-end service guarantees. We introduce a notion of effective-capacity per communication link that captures the service requirements of flows sharing this link. Each link maintains a price and effective-capacity, and each flow maintains rate and dissatisfaction. Flows and links update their respective variables locally, and we show that their decisions drive the system to an optimal point. We implemented our algorithm on a network simulator and studied its convergence behavior on few networks of practical interest.