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Outage probabilities and single-hop throughput are two important performance metrics that have been evaluated for certain specific types of wireless networks. However, there is a lack of comprehensive results for larger classes of networks, and there is no systematic approach that permits the convenient comparison of the performance of networks with different geometries and levels of randomness. The uncertainty cube is introduced to categorize the uncertainty present in a network. The three axes of the cube represent the three main potential sources of uncertainty in interference-limited networks: the node distribution, the channel gains (fading), and the channel access scheme (set of transmitting nodes). For the performance analysis, a new parameter, the so- called spatial contention, is defined. It measures the slope of the outage probability in an ALOHA network as a function of the transmit probability p at p = 0. Outage is defined as the event that the signal-to-interference ratio (SIR) is below a certain threshold in a given time slot. It is shown that the spatial contention is sufficient to characterize outage and throughput in large classes of wireless networks, corresponding to different positions on the uncertainty cube. Existing results are placed in this framework, and new ones are derived. Further, interpreting the outage probability as the SIR distribution, the ergodic capacity of unit-distance links is determined and compared to the throughput achievable for fixed (yet optimized) transmission rates.