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Recent research in network coding shows that, joint consideration of both coding and routing strategies may lead to higher information transmission rates than routing only. A fundamental question in the field of network coding is: how large can the throughput improvement due to network coding be? In this paper, we prove that in undirected networks, the ratio of achievable multicast throughput with network coding to that without network coding is bounded by a constant ratio of 2, i.e., network coding can at most double the throughput. This result holds for any undirected network topology, any link capacity configuration, any multicast group size, and any source information rate. This constant bound 2 represents the tightest bound that has been proved so far in general undirected settings, and is to be contrasted with the unbounded potential of network coding in improving multicast throughput in directed networks.
Date of Publication: March 2009