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In many military applications, communication messages must be multicast to a group of receivers. When these transmissions are broadcast over a wireless channel, fading can result in the messages only being received by a subset of the intended receivers on any given transmission. The conventional approach of retransmission via Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ) results in the performance being dominated by the single receiver that experiences the worst propagation conditions for each broadcast packet. Recently, it has been shown that linear network coding can be used to reduce the average number of transmissions required to deliver the multicast message by making it possible for a receiver to recover B packets that are coded together after correctly receiving any B transmissions.
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