As more people access the global Internet through wireless networks, the limited capacity of wireless networks is becoming a major challenge of our information-based society. Building around the point-to-point architecture, where the basic transmission unit is from a single transmitter to a single receiver, current wireless networks are shown to be severely limited in throughput and do not scale well as they become large and dense. Thus, it is time for a fundamental revisit and change to the wireless network system architecture, in order to explore distributed cooperation and one-to-many encoding/decoding in wireless networks.
The MatrixNet project uses a component-based framework to design implementable, distributed concurrency algorithms and protocols, spanning routing, media access control, and physical layers. It bridges and goes beyond theoretical asymptotic analysis in information theory in order to identify fundamental, algorithmic and system challenges facing the emerging, increasingly important field of system concurrent wireless networks. The project integrates multiple experimental platforms, including Sora, GNU radio, and networked MIMO, and conducts systematic, realistic evaluations. The project team consists of both academic and industrial researchers to facilitate potential technology transfer and cross-institution collaboration.
As more people access the global Internet through wireless networks, the limited capacity of wireless networks is becoming a major challenge of our information-based society. However, the traditional wireless architecture based on the point-to-point abstraction or a small number of concurrent transmissions is approaching its capacity and does achieve optimal scaling in the general case. Consequently, it is time for a fundamental change to the wireless network system architecture, so that to support simultaneous, cooperative transmissions and receptions, which are shown in communication theory to achieve optimal scaling. In this project, we propose MatrixNet, a new component-based framework for a systematic design and realistic evaluation of concurrency control in wireless networks. The MatrixNet project is very challenging, involving substantial challenges in network architecture, algorithms, protocols, and interaction with communication theory. We believe we have exceeded expectations with the following results. We designed the first scalable platform, Argos which exploits hierarchical and modular design principles, properly partitions baseband processing, and holistically considers real-time requirements of concurrent transmissions. Argos is capable of concurrent transmissions between a 64 antenna array and 15 terminal nodes. We experimentally demonstrate that by scaling from 1 to 64 antennas the prototype can achieve up to 6.7 fold capacity gains while using a mere 1/64th of the transmission power. We feel this is a truly remarkable achievement! Such a platform has not even been attempted by industry due to many technical hurdles. To our knowledge, the largest platform in industry is only equipped with a dozen or so transceivers. We demonstrated that our architecture is very scalable. We solved clock synchronization problem, transmission synchronization problem and scalable channel estimation problem. We proposed SoftRAN, a fundamental rethink of the radio access layer. SoftRAN is a software defined centralized control plane for radio access networks that abstracts all base stations in a local geographical area as a virtual bigbase station comprised of a central controller and radio elements (individual physical base stations). In designing such an architecture, we create a framework through which a local geographical network can effectively perform load balancing and interference management, as well as maximize throughput, global utility, or any other objective. Our key finding in Argos enables access capacity of wireless networks to improve orders of magnitude cost effectively. Our key finding in SoftRAN makes it easy to coordinate and control dense and chaotically deployed small cell base stations. Both are fundamental and challenging problems facing our mobile Internet infrastructure. In developing the breakthrough technologies, we have trained graduate student interns in top US academic institutions and our knowledge gained and testbed developed will be useful in training other graduate students and engineers in the field of wireless networking and communications.