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We study the throughput of hybrid automatic retransmission request (H-ARQ) schemes based on incremental redundancy (IR) over a block-fading channel. We provide an information-theoretic analysis assuming binary random coding and typical-set decoding. Then, we study the performance of low-density parity-check (LDPC) code ensembles with iterative belief-propagation decoding, and show that, under the hypothesis of infinite-length codes, LDPCs yield almost optimal performance. Unfortunately, standard finite-length LDPC ensembles incur a considerable performance loss with respect to their infinite-length counterpart, because of their poor frame-error rate (FER) performance. In order to recover part of this loss, we propose two simple yet effective methods: using a modified LDPC ensemble designed to improve the FER; and using an outer selective-repeat protocol acting on smaller packets of information bits. Surprisingly, these apparently very different methods yield almost the same performance gain and recover a considerable fraction of the optimal throughput, thus making practical finite-length LDPC codes very attractive for data wireless communications based on IR H-ARQ schemes.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2004