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The design of space-time codes for wireless communications with relays is investigated by considering a pragmatic approach based on the concatenation of convolutional codes and BPSK/QPSK modulation to obtain cooperative codes. The authors propose a design criterion which aims at optimizing both diversity and coding gain, based on an asymptotic bound for frame error probability. This framework is useful to characterize the behavior of Cooperative Pragmatic Space-Time Codes (CP-STC) and to set up a code search procedure to obtain good CP-STC with overlay construction (COP-STC) which are suitable for cooperative communication with a variable number of relays and have improved performance with respect to cooperative codes in the literature.
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