Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Welcome to 6.452

This is a graduate-level introduction to the fundamentals of digital wireless communications. Our focus is on the design, the analysis, and the fundamental limits of wireless transmission systems, and to develop the foundation for research in this field. To provide the longest term value, our emphasis will be on the basic principles that apply to all such systems, rather than the details of any particular current system or standard. The subject builds naturally on 6.450 (Principles of Digital Communications - I), and complements other follow-on subjects, such as 6.451 (Principles of Digital Communications - II), 6.441 (Transmission of Information), and 6.263 (Data Networks).


The prerequisite is 6.450, or permission of the instructors. We rely on 6.450 to build the connection between a real-life communication channel and its digitized models, so that we can focus almost exclusively on the digital designs in the current course. We also require fluency in the main structures and concepts of digital communication systems, as well as the associated probabilistic analysis.

We expect students to have some experience in linear algebra and probability. You are recommended to review and evaluate yourself on your fluency using the following textbooks.

Bertsekas, Dimitri P., and John N. Tsitsiklis. Introduction to Probability. Belmont, MA: Athena Scientific Press, June 2002. ISBN: 188652940X.

Strang, Gilbert. Linear Algebra and Its Applications. 3rd ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole, 1998. ISBN: 0155510053.

We do not require the knowledge of information theory. Although a large portion of the course has information theoretic flavor, we will develop the necessary concepts as we encounter them. However, it is certainly helpful if you have already taken, or are currently taking, 6.441.


The required textbook is the new and very nice book,

Tse, David, and Pramod Viswanath. Fundamentals of Wireless Communication. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0521845270. Online version.

Note: I personally believe this book is one of the best technical books, and a hard copy is worth having. It is fine to go through this course with only the on-line version, for the assigned readings and problem sets. Printing out the whole book is however considered a waste of resource and strongly discouraged.

Tentative Topics

We expect to introduce the following topics during the term.

  • Wireless Channel Models, Noise and Interference
  • Capacity and Outage
  • Diversity and Space-Time Coding
  • Diversity-Multiplexing Tradeoffs
  • Wireless Networks and Resource Management
  • Advanced Topics

Problem Sets, Project, Quizzes

There will be 3 problem sets, one short project, and two quizzes, scheduled as follows:

5 Problem set 1 out

Problem set 1 due

Problem set 2 out

13 Quiz 1
15 Problem set 2 due
17 Problem set 3 out

Problem set 3 due

Project out

24 Project due
26 Quiz 2


Quiz 1 will be a take-home exam, although we expect students to finish it in around 2 hours. This is part of our effort towards time-pressure-free exams.

Course Grade

The final grade in the course is based upon our best assessment of your understanding of the material during the semester. Roughly, the weights used in grade assignments will be:

Quiz 1 35%
Quiz 2 35%
Project 20%
Homework 10%


However, other factors such as interaction with the staff and participation in lecture can make a significant difference in the final grade. In general, the process of assigning a final grade involves a lot of discussion among the staff and a careful review of the quizzes and project. Although the focus of the course is obviously learning, not grades, we know the final grade is important to you, and we want you to know that we take the process seriously.