Diamond networks with bursty traffic: Bounds on the minimum energy-per-bit

Ilan Shomorony, Raul H. Etkin, Farzad Parvaresh, Amir Salman Avestimehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When data traffic in a wireless network is bursty, small amounts of data sporadically become available for transmission, at times that are unknown at the receivers, and an extra amount of energy must be spent at the transmitters to overcome this lack of synchronization between the network nodes. In practice, predefined header sequences are used with the purpose of synchronizing the different network nodes. However, in networks where relays must be used for communication, the overhead required for synchronizing the entire network may be very significant. In this paper, we study the fundamental limits of energy-efficient communication in an asynchronous diamond network with two relays. We formalize the notion of relay synchronization by saying that a relay is synchronized if the conditional entropy of the arrival time of the source message given the received signals at the relay is small. We show that the minimum energy-per-bit for bursty traffic in diamond networks is achieved with a coding scheme where each relay is either synchronized or not used at all. A consequence of this result is the derivation of a lower bound to the minimum energy-per-bit for bursty communication in diamond networks. This bound allows us to show that schemes that perform the tasks of synchronization and communication separately (i.e., with synchronization signals preceding the communication block) can achieve the minimum energy-per-bit to within a constant fraction that ranges from 2 in the synchronous case to 1 in the highly asynchronous regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6648420
Pages (from-to)461-493
Number of pages33
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Asynchronous communication
  • diamond network
  • minimum energy-per-bit
  • relay synchronization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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