On Channel Capacity per Unit Cost

Sergio Verdu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

405 Scopus citations


Memoryless communication channels with arbitrary alphabets where each input symbol is assigned a cost are considered. The maximum number of bits that can be transmitted reliably through the channel per unit cost is studied. It is shown that if the input alphabet contains a zero-cost symbol, then the capacity per unit cost admits a simple expression as the maximum normalized divergence between two conditional output distributions. The direct part of this coding theorem admits a constructive proof via Stein’s lemma on the asymptotic error probability of binary hypothesis tests. Single-user, multiple-access and interference channels are studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1030
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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