Capacity of Time-Slotted ALOHA Packetized Multiple-Access Systems Over the AWGN Channel

Muriel Médard, Jianyi Huang, Andrea J. Goldsmith, Sean P. Meyn, Todd P. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We study different notions of capacity for time-slotted ALOHA systems. In these systems, multiple users synchronously send packets in a bursty manner over a common additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channel. The users do not coordinate their transmissions, which may collide at the receiver. For such a system, we define both single-slot capacity and multiple-slot capacity. We then construct a coding and decoding scheme for single-slot capacity that achieves any rate within this capacity region. This coding and decoding scheme for a single time slot combines aspects of multiple access rate splitting and of broadcast codes for degraded AWGN channels. This design allows some bits to be reliably received even when collisions occur and more bits to be reliably received in the absence of collisions. The exact number of bits reliably received under both of these scenarios is part of the code design process, which we optimize to maximize the expected rate in each slot. Next, we examine the behavior of the system asymptotically over multiple slots. We show that there exist coding and decoding strategies such that regardless of the burstiness of the traffic, the system is stable as long as the average rate of the users is within the multiple access capacity region of the channel. In other words, we show that bursty traffic does not decrease the Cover-Wyner capacity region of the multiple access channel. A vast family of codes, which includes the type of codes we introduce for the single-slot transmission, achieve the capacity region, in a sense we define, for multiple-slot transmissions. These codes are stabilizing, using only local information at each of the individual queues. The use of information regarding other queues or the use of scheduling does not improve the multiple-slot capacity region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-499
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Broadcast
  • Bursty data
  • Capacity
  • Coding
  • Multiple access
  • Rate splitting


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