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One important application of cooperative communications is to extend coverage area in wireless networks without increasing infrastructure. However, a crucial challenge in implementing cooperation protocols is how to select relay-source pairs. In this paper, we address this problem based on the knowledge of the users' spatial distribution which determines the channel statistics. We consider two scenarios at the destination node, when the receiver uses MRC and when no-MRC is used. First, we characterize the optimal relay location to minimize the outage probability. Then, we propose and analyze the performance of two schemes: a distributed nearest neighbor relay assignment in which users can act as relays, and an infrastructure-based relay-assignment protocol in which fixed relay nodes are deployed in the network to help the users forward their data. The outage probabilities of these two schemes are derived. We also derive universal lower bounds on the performance of relay-assignment protocols to serve as a benchmark for our proposed protocols. Numerical results reveal significant gains when applying the proposed simple distributed algorithms over direct transmission in terms of coverage area, transmit power, and spectral efficiency. At 1 percent outage probability, more than 200 percent increase in coverage area can be achieved, 7 dBW savings in the transmitted power, and the system can operate at 2 b/s/Hz higher spectral efficiency.
Date of Publication: April 2010