Workshop on Mathematical Modeling and Analysis of Computer Networks

"Information Acquisition and Exploitation
in Multichannel Wireless Networks"

Saswati Sarkar
University of Pennsylvania

We consider a wireless system with multiple channels where each channel has several transmission states. A user learns about the instantaneous state of an available channel by transmitting a control packet in it. Since probing all channels consumes significant energy and time, a user needs to determine what and how much information it needs to acquire about the instantaneous states of the available channels so that it can maximize its transmission rate. This motivates the study of the trade-off between the cost of information acquisition and its value towards improving the transmission rate. We present a simple model for studying this information acquisition and exploitation trade-off when the channels are multi-state, with different distributions and information acquisition costs. The objective is to maximize a utility function which depends on both the cost and value of information. Solution techniques are presented for computing near-optimal policies with succinct representation in polynomial time. These policies provably achieve at least a fixed constant factor of the optimal utility on any problem instance, and in addition, have natural characterizations. The techniques are based on exploiting the structure of the optimal policy, and by using Lagrangean relaxations to simplify the space of approximately optimal solutions.