This month’s column, by Zvi Lotker and David Peleg, describes the signal to interference and noise ratio (SINR) model for communication in wireless networks. The SINR model is in contrast to the popular unit disc graph (UDG) model of communication where two nodes in a wireless network have a communication link if they are within distance one of each other. The SINR model is much more realistic than UDG. It assumes the energy of a signal fades with the distance to the power of some parameter alpha. Then, a message is assumed to be received correctly by a listener if the energy of the signal divided by the energy of other interferences is greater than some parameter beta (where one of the interferences is always regular background radiation, which has a fixed energy level). While the SINR model is more realistic, many (theory) researchers choose to use the UDG model because it is easier to work with algorithmically.
In the column, Lotker and Peleg discuss similarities and differences between the two models, and discuss the types of research problems that need to be solved in order to make it easier to design algorithms for the more realistic SINR model. One of these main problems is the study of SINR “reception diagrams”, a problem that seems to have an interesting computation geometry flavor to it.
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