A wave of digitalization is sweeping over the world, but not everything benefits from a transformation from analog to digital methods. In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson discuss the fundamentals of analog modulation techniques to pinpoint their key advantages. Particular attention is given to how analog modulation enables over-the-air aggregation of data, which can be used for computations, efficient federated training of machine learning models, and distributed hypothesis testing. The conversation covers the need for coherent operation and power control and outlines the challenges that researchers are now facing when extending the methods to multi-antenna systems. Towards the end, the following paper is mentioned: “Optimal MIMO Combining for Blind Federated Edge Learning with Gradient Sparsification” (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2203.12957.pdf). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

Many assumptions must be made when simulating a communication link, including the modulation format, channel coding, multi-antenna transmission scheme, receiver processing, and channel modeling. In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson are visited by Jakob Hoydis, Principal Research Scientist at NVIDIA, to discuss the fundamentals of link-level simulations. Jakob has led the development of the new open-source simulator Sionna, which is particularly well suited for machine learning research. The conversation covers the needs and means for making accurate simulations, channel modeling, reproducibility, and how machine learning can be used to improve standard algorithms. Other topics that are discussed are MIMO decoding and technical debt. Sionna can be downloaded from https://nvlabs.github.io/sionna/ and the white paper that is mentioned in the episode is found here: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2203.11854.pdf Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

The research towards 6G is intense and many new technology components are being proposed by academia and industry. In this episode, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson identify the key selling points of six of these 6G technologies. They discuss the potential for major breakthroughs and what the main challenges are. The episode covers: 1) Semantic communications; 2) Distributed/cell-free Massive MIMO; 3) Reconfigurable intelligent surfaces; 4) Full-duplex radios; 5) Joint communication and sensing; and 6) Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM). The following paper is mentioned: “Is Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) Based Radio Communication an Unexploited Area?” by Edfors and Johansson (https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/4023050/2339120.pdf). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

The reliability of an application is determined by its weakest link, which often is the wireless link. Channel coding and retransmissions are traditionally used to enhance reliability but at the cost of extra latency. 5G promises to enhance both reliability and latency in a new operational mode called ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC). In this episode, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson discuss URLLC with Petar Popovski, Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. The conversation pinpoints the physical reasons for latency and unreliability, and viable solutions related to network deployment, diversity, digital vs. analog communications, non-orthogonal network slicing, and machine learning. Further details can be found in the article “Wireless Access in Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC)” (https://doi.org/10.1109/TCOMM.2019.2914652) and its companion video (https://youtu.be/XGbe_ckKKpE). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

Mobile network technology builds on open standards, but it is nevertheless a major effort to implement the required software protocols and interface them with actual hardware. Many algorithmic choices must also be made in the implementation, leading to each vendor having its proprietary solution. The OpenAirInterface Alliance wants to change the game by providing open-source software implementations of the wireless air interface and core network. In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson are discussing these prospects with a Board Member of the Alliance: Florian Kaltenberger, Associate Professor at EURECOM, France. The conversation covers the fundamentals of air interfaces, how anyone can build a 5G network using their open-source software and off-the-shelf hardware, and the pros and cons of implementing everything in software. The connections to Open RAN, functional splits, and patent licenses are also discussed. Further details can be found at https://openairinterface.org and in the paper “OpenAirInterface: Democratizing innovation in the 5G Era” (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comnet.2020.107284). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

February 2, 2022

26. Network Slicing

In the near future, we will be able to deploy new wireless networks without installing new physical infrastructure. The networks will instead be virtualized on shared hardware using the new concept of network slicing. This will enable tailored wireless services for businesses, entertainment, and devices with special demands. In this episode, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson discuss why we need multiple virtual networks, what the practical services might be, who will pay for it, and whether the concept might break net neutrality. The episode starts with a continued discussion on the usefulness of models, based on feedback from listeners regarding Episode 25. The network slicing topic starts after 10 minutes. Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

January 19, 2022

25. What Models are Useful?

The statistician George Box famously said that “All models are wrong, but some are useful”. In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson discuss what models are useful in the context of wireless communications, and for what purposes. The conversation covers modeling of wireless propagation, noise, hardware, and wireless traffic. A key message is that the modeling requirements are different for algorithmic development and for performance evaluation. Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson answer ten questions from the listeners. The common theme is predictions of how 5G will evolve and which technologies will be important in 6G. The specific questions: Will Moore’s law or Edholm’s law break down first? How important will integrated communication and sensing become? When will private 5G networks start to appear? Will reconfigurable intelligent surfaces be a key enabler of 6G? How can we manage the computational complexity in large-aperture Massive MIMO? Will machine learning be the game-changer in 6G? What is 5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing? What does the convergence of the Shannon and Maxwell theories imply? What happened to device-to-device communications, is it an upcoming 5G feature? Will full-duplex radios be adopted in the future? If you have a question or idea for a future topic, please share it as a comment to the YouTube version of this episode. Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

For each wireless generation, we are using more bandwidth and more antennas. While the primary reason is to increase the communication capacity, it also increases the network’s ability to localize objects and sense changes in the wireless environment. The localization and sensing applications impose entirely different requirements on the desired signal and channel properties than communications. To learn more about this, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson have invited Henk Wymeersch, Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. The conversation covers the fundamentals of wireless localization, the historical evolution, and future developments that might involve machine learning, terahertz bands, and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. Further details can be found in the articles “Collaborative sensor network localization” (https://doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2018.2829439) and “Integration of communication and sensing in 6G” (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2106.13023). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

Wireless signals look different when observed near to versus far from the transmitter. The notions of near and far also depend on the physical size of the transmitter and receiver, as well as on the wavelength. In this episode, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson discuss these fundamental phenomena and how they can be utilized when designing future communication systems. Concept such as near-field communications, finite-depth beamforming, mutual coupling, and new spatial multiplexing methods such as orbital angular momentum (OAM) are covered. To get more technical details, you can read the paper “A Primer on Near-Field Beamforming for Arrays and Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces” (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2110.06661.pdf). Music: On the Verge by Joseph McDade. Visit Erik’s website https://liu.se/en/employee/erila39 and Emil’s website https://ebjornson.com/

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