The Role of Feedback in the Choice Between Routing and Coding for Wireless Unicast

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Executive Summary

The authors consider the benefits of coding in wireless networks, specifically its role in exploiting the local broadcast property of the wireless medium. They first provide a natural argument that for unicast, the throughput achieved with network coding is the same as that achieved without any coding. This argument highlights the role of a general max-flow min-cut duality in such a result, and is more explicit than previous proofs. This maximum throughput can be achieved either by a flow scheduler with knowledge of the network topology, or by a blind back-pressure algorithm, however all such policies require dynamic routing decisions which depend critically on rich feedback signaling information.

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