On the Validity of the Fixed Point Equation and Decoupling Assumption for Analyzing the 802.11 MAC Protocol

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Executive Summary

Performance evaluation of the 802.11 MAC protocol is classically based on the decoupling assumption, which hypothesizes that the backoff processes at different nodes are independent. A necessary condition for the validity of this approach is the existence and uniqueness of a solution to a fixed point equation. However, it was also recently pointed out that this condition is not sufficient; in contrast, a necessary and sufficient condition is a global stability property of the associated ordinary differential equation. Such a property was established only for a specific case, namely for a homogeneous system (all nodes have the same parameters) and when the number of backoff stages is either 1 or infinite and with other restrictive conditions.

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