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This paper develops a distributed algorithm for rate allocation in wireless networks that achieves the same throughput region as optimal centralized algorithms. This cross-layer algorithm jointly performs Medium Access Control (MAC) and physical-layer rate adaptation. The paper establishes that this algorithm is throughput-optimal for general rate regions. In contrast to on-off scheduling, rate allocation enables optimal utilization of physical-layer schemes by scheduling multiple rate levels. The algorithm is based on local queue-length information, and thus the algorithm is of significant practical value. The algorithm requires that each link can determine the global feasibility of increasing its current data-rate. In many classes of networks, any one link's data-rate primarily impacts its neighbors and this impact decays with distance.
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