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Review: Introduction to Space-Time Wireless Communications January 25, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in Research.
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I recently finished Introduction to Space-Time Wireless Communications by A. Paulraj, R. Nabar and D. Gore. I originally used this book for a course taught by my advisor in the Fall 2005 semester. On a (possibly) related note, savvy Internet denizens will discover that Paulraj is my “academic grandfather.”

This book has already been reviewed (some would say “thoroughly castigated”) on Amazon, so I’ll just contribute some of my observations and hope that they provide some additional data points for people who are considering obtaining the book.

I had a conversation regarding this book with one of my former research group-mates that proved to be enlightening. He encouraged me to re-read the preface, where the authors state, “this area of technology has grown so large in the past few years that this book cannot cover all aspects in moderate detail. Rather, our aim has been to provide a coherent overview of the key advances in this field emphasizing basic theory and intuition. We have attempted to keep the presentation as simple as possible without sacrificing accuracy.”

When I viewed the book in this light, I was able to tolerate the first eight chapters, which appear to be (mostly) presented at the stated level of detail. In those first eight chapters, the authors do a reasonable job of presenting (without much in the way of rigorous proofs, as expected) fundamental concepts including space-time channel modeling, space-time channel capacity and space-time coding. They even cover a somewhat advanced topic, transmit-side precoding, at a reasonable level.

In my opinion, the book really “goes off the rails” in the last four chapters, which make a half-hearted attempt at presenting more advanced topics including MIMO-OFDM, the MIMO MAC/BC channels and the (much celebrated) diversity-multiplexing tradeoff. Unfortunately, this degrades the cohesion of the book and even left me with a sour taste in my mouth as I finished the last section. Various results were presented without even a modicum of intuition or insight, including the entire chapter on space-time co-channel interference mitigation, which suffered from lazy and uninspired writing (note that interference is a critical issue in multi-antenna wireless networks).

Overall, I would recommend this book to “graduate students in wireless communications” and “wireless designers in industry” (as noted in the text) with the following caveats. Readers would be advised to focus only on the first eight chapters and become familiar with their basic results. After achieving this goal, they should employ a variety of methods to gain deep intuition and insight on all of the material in the text, including reading through the relevant references, attempting to re-derive the key results, and discussing them with motivated colleagues. For example, I should note that I acquired a much better understanding of the diversity-multiplexing tradeoff after an extensive whiteboard-aided discussion with one of my former research group-mates.

Perhaps a more hard-hitting (and well-written) book on space-time wireless communications is in the works (heh heh).

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