On the Continuity of the Secrecy Capacity of Compound and Arbitrarily Varying Wiretap Channels

Holger Boche, Rafael F. Schaefer, H. Vincent Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The wiretap channel models secure communication between two users in the presence of an eavesdropper who must be kept ignorant of transmitted messages. The performance of such a system is usually characterized by its secrecy capacity which determines the maximum transmission rate of secure communication. In this paper, the issue of whether or not the secrecy capacity is a continuous function of the system parameters is examined. In particular, this is done for channel uncertainty modeled via compound channels and arbitrarily varying channels, in which the legitimate users know only that the true channel realization is from a prespecified uncertainty set. In the former model, this realization remains constant for the entire duration of transmission, while in the latter the realization varies from channel use to channel use in an unknown and arbitrary manner. These models not only capture the case of channel uncertainty, but are also suitable for modeling scenarios in which a malicious adversary jams or otherwise influences the legitimate transmission. The secrecy capacity of the compound wiretap channel is shown to be robust in the sense that it is a continuous function of the uncertainty set. Thus, small variations in the uncertainty set lead to small variations in secrecy capacity. On the other hand, the deterministic secrecy capacity of the arbitrarily varying wiretap channel is shown to be discontinuous in the uncertainty set meaning that small variations can lead to dramatic losses in capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7182343
Pages (from-to)2531-2546
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Wiretap channel
  • arbitrarily varying channel (AVC)
  • compound channel
  • continuity
  • secrecy capacity


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