Diversity analysis, code design, and tight error rate lower bound for binary joint network-channel coding
1 Department of Telecommunications and Information processing, Ghent University, St-Pietersnieuwstraat 41, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
2 Technische Universität München, München, Germany
3 Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy
EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking 2012, 2012:350 doi:10.1186/1687-1499-2012-350Published: 21 November 2012
Joint network-channel codes (JNCC) can improve the performance of communication in wireless networks, by combining, at the physical layer, the channel codes and the network code as an overall error-correcting code. JNCC is increasingly proposed as an alternative to a standard layered construction, such as the OSI-model. The main performance metrics for JNCCs are scalability to larger networks and error rate. The diversity order is one of the most important parameters determining the error rate. The literature on JNCC is growing, but a rigorous diversity analysis is lacking, mainly because of the many degrees of freedom in wireless networks, which makes it very hard to prove general statements on the diversity order. In this article, we consider a network with slowly varying fading point-to-point links, where all sources also act as relay and additional non-source relays may be present. We propose a general structure for JNCCs to be applied in such network. In the relay phase, each relay transmits a linear transform of a set of source codewords. Our main contributions are the proposition of an upper and lower bound on the diversity order, a scalable code design and a new lower bound on the word error rate to assess the performance of the network code. The lower bound on the diversity order is only valid for JNCCs where the relays transform only two source codewords. We then validate this analysis with an example which compares the JNCC performance to that of a standard layered construction. Our numerical results suggest that as networks grow, it is difficult to perform significantly better than a standard layered construction, both on a fundamental level, expressed by the outage probability, as on a practical level, expressed by the word error rate.