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This paper presents an optimized distributed multiple-input multiple-output (OD-MIMO) for cooperative communication in wireless relay networks. The set of cooperating nodes is a priori unknown. In order to avoid the centralized stream and pilot allocation procedure, a fixed signature vector (SV) is assigned for each node in the network. We analyze the constraints of the proposed scheme, and derive an optimization criterion for the decision of the SVs. A gradient-based algorithm for SV design is provided. Simulation results show that the performance loss of OD-MIMO compared to centralized distributed MIMO is small for large number of cooperative relay nodes.