Cooperative Detection and Network Coding in Wireless Networks

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In cooperative communication systems, multiple terminals in wireless networks share their antennas and resources for information exchange and processing. Recently, cooperative communications have been shown to achieve significant performance improvements in terms of transmission reliability, coverage area extension, and network throughput, with respect to existing classical communication systems. This dissertation is focused on two important applications of cooperative communications, namely: (i) cooperative distributed detection in wireless sensor networks, and (ii) many-to-many communications via cooperative space-time network coding.

The first application of cooperative communications presented in this dissertation is concerned with the analysis and modeling of the deployment of cooperative relay nodes in wireless sensor networks. Particularly, in dense wireless sensor networks, sensor nodes continuously observe and collect measurements of a physical phenomenon. Such observations can be highly correlated, depending on the spatial separation between the sensor nodes as well as how the physical properties of the phenomenon are evolving over time. This unique characteristic of wireless sensor networks can be effectively exploited with cooperative communications and relays deployment such that the distributed detection performance is significantly improved as well as the energy efficiency. In particular, this dissertation studies the Amplify-and-Forward (AF) relays deployment as a function of the correlation of the observations and analyzes the achievable spatial diversity gains as compared with the classical wireless sensor networks. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the gains of cooperation can be further leveraged to alleviate bandwidth utilization inefficiencies in current sensor networks. Specifically, the deployment of cognitive AF cooperative relays to exploit empty/under-utilized time-slots and the resulting energy savings are studied, quantified and compared.

The multiple terminal communication and information exchange form the second application of cooperative communications in this dissertation. Specifically, the novel concept of Space-Time-Network Coding (STNC) that is concerned with formulation of the many-to-many cooperative communications over Decode-and-Forward (DF) nodes is studied and analyzed. Moreover, the exact theoretical analysis as well as upper-bounds on the network symbol error rate performance are derived. In addition, the tradeoff between the number of communicating nodes and the timing synchronization errors is analyzed and provided as a network design guideline. With STNC, it is illustrated that cooperative diversity gains are fully exploited per node and significant performance improvements are achieved. It is concluded that the STNC scheme serves as a potential many-to-many cooperative communications scheme and that its scope goes much further beyond the generic source-relay-destination communications.