Optimal cognitive access and packet selection under a primary ARQ process via chain decoding

Nicolo Michelusi, Petar Popovski, Michele Zorzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper introduces a novel technique that enables access by a cognitive secondary user (SU) to a spectrum occupied by an incumbent primary user (PU) that employs Type-I hybrid automatic retransmission request (ARQ). The technique allows the SU to perform selective retransmissions of SU data packets, whose transmission previously failed. The temporal redundancy introduced by the PU ARQ protocol and by the selective retransmission process of the SU can be exploited by the SU receiver to perform interference cancellation (IC) over multiple transmission slots, thus creating a 'clean' channel for the decoding of the concurrent SU or PU packets. The chain decoding (CD) technique is initiated by a successful decoding operation of an SU or a PU packet and proceeds by an iterative application of IC as previously buffered packets become decodable and their interference can be removed, thus making it possible to recover the concurrent data packets, and so on, until no more packets are decodable. Based on this scheme, an optimal policy is designed that maximizes the SU throughput under a constraint on the average long-term PU performance. The optimality of the CD protocol is proved, which determines which packet the SU should send at any given time, based on four basic rules. Moreover, a decoupling principle is proved, which establishes the optimality of decoupling the secondary access strategy from the CD protocol. Specifically, first, the SU access policy, optimized via dynamic programming, specifies whether the SU should access the channel or remain idle, based on a compact state representation of the protocol, and second, the CD protocol embeds four basic rules that are used to select the packet transmitted by the SU. It is shown numerically that CD outperforms by up to 35% other schemes considered in the literature, which do not employ retransmissions at the SU pair and thus do not exploit the full potentiality of IC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7582493
Pages (from-to)7324-7357
Number of pages34
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • ARQ
  • Cognitive radios
  • Markov decision processes
  • interference cancellation
  • resource allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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