Beyond Max-SNR: Joint Encoding for Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces

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A communication link aided by a Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface (RIS) is studied, in which the transmitter can control the state of the RIS via a finite-rate control link. Prior work mostly assumed a fixed RIS configuration irrespective of the transmitted information. In contrast, this work derives information-theoretic limits, and demonstrates that the capacity is achieved by a scheme that jointly encodes information in the transmitted signal as well as in the RIS configuration. In addition, a novel signaling strategy based on layered encoding is proposed that enables practical successive cancellation-type decoding at the receiver. Numerical experiments demonstrate that the standard max-SNR scheme that fixes the configuration of the RIS as to maximize the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) at the receiver is strictly suboptimal, and is outperformed by the proposed strategies at all practical SNR levels.

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Reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs) comprised of tunable unit cells have recently drawn significant attention due to their superior capability in manipulating electromagnetic waves. In particular, RIS-assisted wireless communications have the great potential to achieve significant performance improvement and coverage enhancement in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner, by properly programming the reflection coefficients of the unit cells of RISs. In this paper, free-space path loss models for RIS-assisted wireless communications are developed for different scenarios by studying the physics and electromagnetic nature of RISs. The proposed models, which are first validated through extensive simulation results, reveal the relationships between the free-space path loss of RIS-assisted wireless communications and the distances from the transmitter/receiver to the RIS, the size of the RIS, the near-field/far-field effects of the RIS, and the radiation patterns of antennas and unit cells. In addition, three fabricated RISs (metasurfaces) are utilized to further corroborate the theoretical findings through experimental measurements conducted in a microwave anechoic chamber. The measurement results match well with the modeling results, thus validating the proposed free-space path loss models for RIS, which may pave the way for further theoretical studies and practical applications in this field.
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Transmission through reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs), which control the reflection/scattering characteristics of incident waves in a deliberate manner to enhance the signal quality at the receiver, appears as a promising candidate for future wireless communication systems. In this paper, we bring the concept of RIS-assisted communications to the realm of index modulation (IM) by proposing RIS-space shift keying (RIS-SSK) and RIS-spatial modulation (RIS-SM) schemes. These two schemes are realized through not only intelligent reflection of the incoming signals to improve the reception but also utilization of the IM principle for the indices of multiple receive antennas in a clever way to improve the spectral efficiency. Maximum energy-based suboptimal (greedy) and exhaustive search-based optimal (maximum likelihood) detectors of the proposed RIS-SSK/SM schemes are formulated and a unified framework is presented for the derivation of their theoretical average bit error probability. Extensive computer simulation results are provided to assess the potential of RIS-assisted IM schemes as well as to verify our theoretical derivations. Our findings also reveal that RIS-based IM, which enables high data rates with remarkably low error rates, can become a potential candidate for future wireless communication systems in the context of beyond multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) solutions.
Conference Paper
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As a recently proposed idea for future wireless systems, intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) can assist communications between entities which do not have high-quality direct channels in between. Specifically, an IRS comprises many low-cost passive elements, each of which reflects the incident signal by incurring a phase change so that the reflected signals add coherently at the receiver. In this paper, for an IRS-aided wireless network, we study the problem of power control at the base station (BS) for physical-layer broadcasting under quality of service (QoS) constraints at mobile users, by jointly designing the transmit beamforming at the BS and the phase shifts of the IRS units. Furthermore, we derive a lower bound of the minimum transmit power at the BS to present the performance bound for optimization methods. Simulation results show that, the transmit power at the BS approaches the lower bound with the increase of the number of IRS units, and is much lower than that of the communication system without IRS.
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Intelligent reflecting surfaces can improve the communication between a source and a destination. The surface contains metamaterial that is configured to “reflect” the incident wave from the source towards the destination. Two incompatible pathloss models have been used in prior work. In this letter, we derive the far-field pathloss using physical optics techniques and explain why the surface consists of many elements that individually act as diffuse scatterers but can jointly beamform the signal in a desired direction with a certain beamwidth. We disprove one of the previously conjectured pathloss models.
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The rate and energy efficiency of wireless channels can be improved by deploying software-controlled metasurfaces to reflect signals from the source to destination, especially when the direct path is weak. While previous works mainly optimized the reflections, this letter compares the new technology with classic decode-and-forward (DF) relaying. The main observation is that very high rates and/or large metasurfaces are needed to outperform DF relaying, both in terms of minimizing the total transmit power and maximizing the energy efficiency, which also includes the dissipation in the transceiver hardware.
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Abstract An emerging and promising vision of wireless networks consists of coating the environmental objects with reconfigurable metasurfaces that are capable of modifying the radio waves impinging upon them according to the generalized law of reflection. By relying on tools from point processes, stochastic geometry, and random spatial processes, we model the environmental objects with a modified random line process of fixed length and with random orientations and locations. Based on the proposed modeling approach, we develop the first analytical framework that provides one with the probability that a randomly distributed object that is coated with a reconfigurable metasurface acts as a reflector for a given pair of transmitter and receiver. In contrast to the conventional network setup where the environmental objects are not coated with reconfigurable metasurfaces, we prove that the probability that the typical random object acts as a reflector is independent of the length of the object itself. The proposed analytical approach is validated against Monte Carlo simulations, and numerical illustrations are given and discussed.
Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) is a promising solution to enhance the wireless communication capacity both cost-effectively and energy-efficiently, by properly altering the signal propagation via tuning a large number of passive reflecting units. In this paper, we aim to characterize the fundamental capacity limit of IRS-aided point-to-point multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) communication systems with multi-antenna transmitter and receiver in general, by jointly optimizing the IRS reflection coefficients and the MIMO transmit covariance matrix. First, we consider narrowband transmission under frequency-flat fading channels, and develop an efficient alternating optimization algorithm to find a locally optimal solution by iteratively optimizing the transmit covariance matrix or one of the reflection coefficients with the others being fixed. Next, we consider capacity maximization for broadband transmission in a general MIMO orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) system under frequency-selective fading channels, where transmit covariance matrices are optimized for different subcarriers while only one common set of IRS reflection coefficients is designed to cater to all the subcarriers. To tackle this more challenging problem, we propose a new alternating optimization algorithm based on convex relaxation to find a high-quality suboptimal solution. Numerical results show that our proposed algorithms achieve substantially increased capacity compared to traditional MIMO channels without the IRS, and also outperform various benchmark schemes. In particular, it is shown that with the proposed algorithms, various key parameters of the IRS-aided MIMO channel such as channel total power, rank, and condition number can be significantly improved for capacity enhancement.
With growing security threats to the evolving wireless systems, protecting user privacy becomes progressively challenging. Even if the transmitted information is encrypted and the potential wiretap channel is physically limited, the raw data itself, such as transmitter position and transmission pattern, could expose confidential information. In this context, covert communication that intends to hide the existence of transmission from an observant adversary emerges as a practical solution. However, existing covertness techniques ineluctably consume additional resources such as bandwidth and energy, which burdens system deployment. In view of this concern, we propose an intelligent reflecting surface (IRS)-based approach to enhance communication covertness. The core idea is making use of a smartly controlled metasurface to reshape undesirable propagation conditions which could divulge secret messages. To facilitate the understanding of the proposed idea, we first provide an overview of the state-of-the-art covert communication techniques. Then, we introduce the fundamentals of IRS and elaborate on how an IRS can be integrated to benefit communication covertness. We also demonstrate a case study of the joint configuration of the IRS and the legitimate transmitter, which is of pivotal importance in designing an IRS-enhanced covert communication system. Finally, we shed light on some open research directions.
IRS is a new and revolutionizing technology that is able to significantly improve the performance of wireless communication networks, by smartly reconfiguring the wireless propagation environment with the use of massive low-cost passive reflecting elements integrated on a planar surface. Specifically, different elements of an IRS can independently reflect the incident signal by controlling its amplitude and/or phase and thereby collaboratively achieve fine-grained 3D passive beamforming for directional signal enhancement or nulling. In this article, we first provide an overview of the IRS technology, including its main applications in wireless communication, competitive advantages over existing technologies, hardware architecture as well as the corresponding new signal model. We then address the key challenges in designing and implementing the new IRS-aided hybrid (with both active and passive components) wireless network, as compared to the traditional network comprising active components only. Finally, numerical results are provided to show the great performance enhancement with the use of IRS in typical wireless networks.
Assume the communication between a source and a destination is supported by a large reflecting surface (LRS), which consists of an array of reflector elements with adjustable reflection phases. By knowing the phase shifts induced by the composite propagation channels through the LRS, the phases of the reflectors can be configured such that the signals combine coherently at the destination, which improves the communication performance. However, perfect phase estimation or high-precision configuration of the reflection phases is unfeasible. We study the transmission through an LRS with phase errors that have a generic distribution. We show that the LRS-based composite channel is equivalent to a direct channel with Nakagami scalar fading. This equivalent representation allows for theoretical analysis of the performance and can help the system designer study the interplay between performance, the distribution of phase errors, and the number of reflectors. Numerical evaluation of the error probability for a limited number of reflectors confirms the theoretical prediction and shows that the performance is remarkably robust against the phase errors.
A key enabler for the intelligent information society of 2030, 6G networks are expected to provide performance superior to 5G and satisfy emerging services and applications. In this article, we present our vision of what 6G will be and describe usage scenarios and requirements for multi-terabyte per second (Tb/s) and intelligent 6G networks. We present a large-dimensional and autonomous network architecture that integrates space, air, ground, and underwater networks to provide ubiquitous and unlimited wireless connectivity. We also discuss artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning [1], [2] for autonomous networks and innovative air-interface design. Finally, we identify several promising technologies for the 6G ecosystem, including terahertz (THz) communications, very-large-scale antenna arrays [i.e., supermassive (SM) multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO)], large intelligent surfaces (LISs) and holographic beamforming (HBF), orbital angular momentum (OAM) multiplexing, laser and visible-light communications (VLC), blockchain-based spectrum sharing, quantum communications and computing, molecular communications, and the Internet of Nano-Things.
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It is shown that embedding part or all of the information in the (intentional) variations of the transmission media (end-to-end channel) can offer significant performance gains vs. traditional SISO, SIMO and MIMO systems, at the same time with a lower complexity. This is in contrast with the traditional wireless systems where the information is entirely embedded in the variations of an RF source prior to the antenna to propagate via the channel to the destination. In particular, it is shown that using a single transmit antenna and D receive antennas; significant savings in energy with respect to a D×D traditional MIMO are achieved. Similar energy savings are possible in SISO, and SIMO setups.
We study the constrained capacity of a multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) fading channel with a phase-shift keying (PSK) input alphabet and show a uniform prior distribution is capacity achieving. An expression for the capacity is derived which requires a single expectation and can be evaluated easily through simulation. The simulations are facilitated by analytical expressions for the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a required covariance matrix. The derived expression is used to provide good approximations to the capacity at low signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) as well as to compare the input-constrained MIMO capacity to the unconstrained MIMO capacity.
A coding technique is described which improves error performance of synchronous data links without sacrificing data rate or requiring more bandwidth. This is achieved by channel coding with expanded sets of multilevel/phase signals in a manner which increases free Euclidean distance. Soft maximum--likelihood (ML) decoding using the Viterbi algorithm is assumed. Following a discussion of channel capacity, simple hand-designed trellis codes are presented for 8 phase-shift keying (PSK) and 16 quadrature amplitude-shift keying (QASK) modulation. These simple codes achieve coding gains in the order of 3-4 dB. It is then shown that the codes can be interpreted as binary convolutional codes with a mapping of coded bits into channel signals, which we call "mapping by set partitioning." Based on a new distance measure between binary code sequences which efficiently lower-bounds the Euclidean distance between the corresponding channel signal sequences, a search procedure for more powerful codes is developed. Codes with coding gains up to 6 dB are obtained for a variety of multilevel/phase modulation schemes. Simulation results are presented and an example of carrier-phase tracking is discussed.
We obtain the Shannon capacity of a fading channel with channel side information at the transmitter and receiver, and at the receiver alone. The optimal power adaptation in the former case is “water-pouring” in time, analogous to water-pouring in frequency for time-invariant frequency-selective fading channels. Inverting the channel results in a large capacity penalty in severe fading
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