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Recent research on network coding (NC) shows that the wireless NC can improve the network throughput in multi-hop wireless ad hoc networks since it can exploit not only the broadcast nature of the wireless channel but also the native physical-layer coding ability by mixing simultaneously arriving radio waves at relay nodes. This paper characterizes the throughput gains of two wireless NC schemes, such as the conventional NC and the analog NC, over the traditional transmission scheduling scheme in wireless ad hoc networks. In particular, we first show the aggregate throughput gains of the conventional NC and analog NC are ( 2n ) / ( 2n - 1 ) and n / ( n - 1 ), respectively, for the n-way relay networks where n ges 2. Second, we formulate a general framework to solve the throughput optimization problem for the transmission scheduling schemes with or without wireless NC. Under this framework, we quantitatively analyze the aggregate throughput gain of wireless NC for different wireless ad hoc network topologies.