Degrees of Freedom of MIMO Cellular Networks: Decomposition and Linear Beamforming Design

Gokul Sridharan, Wei Yu

This paper investigates the symmetric degrees of freedom (DoF) of MIMO cellular networks with G cells and K users per cell, having N antennas at each base station and M antennas at each user. In particular, we investigate achievability techniques based on either decomposition with asymptotic interference alignment (IA) or linear beamforming schemes, and show that there are distinct regimes of (G,K,M,N) where one outperforms the other. We first note that both one-sided and two-sided decomposition with asymptotic IA achieve the same degrees of freedom. We then establish specific antenna configurations under which the DoF achieved using decomposition based schemes is optimal by deriving a set of outer bounds on the symmetric DoF. For linear beamforming schemes, we first focus on small networks and propose a structured approach to linear beamforming based on a notion called packing ratios. Packing ratio describes the interference footprint or shadow cast by a set of transmit beamformers and enables us to identify the underlying structures for aligning interference. Such a structured beamforming design can be shown to achieve the optimal spatially normalized DoF (sDoF) of two-cell two-user/cell network and the two-cell three-user/cell network. For larger networks, we develop an unstructured approach to linear interference alignment, where transmit beamformers are designed to satisfy conditions for IA without explicitly identifying the underlying structures for IA. The main numerical insight of this paper is that such an approach appears to be capable of achieving the optimal sDoF for MIMO cellular networks in regimes where linear beamforming dominates asymptotic decomposition, and a significant portion of sDoF elsewhere. Remarkably, polynomial identity test appears to play a key role in identifying the boundary of the achievable sDoF region in the former case.

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