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To exploit the strengths of both the physical and the protocol interference models and to understand the varying observations on the relative goodness of scheduling based on the two models in literature, we analyze how network traffic, link length, and wireless signal attenuation affect the optimal instantiation of the protocol model. We also identify the inherent tradeoff between reliability and throughput in the model instantiation. Our analysis explains the seemingly inconsistent observations in literature and sheds light on the open problem of efficiently optimizing the protocol model instantiation. Based on the analytical results, we propose the physical-ratio-K (PRK) interference model as a reliability-oriented instantiation of the protocol model. Via analysis, simulation, and testbed-based measurement, we show that PRK-based scheduling achieves a network throughput very close to (e.g., 95%) what is enabled by physical-model-based scheduling while ensuring the required packet delivery reliability. The PRK model inherits both the high fidelity of the physical model and the locality of the protocol model, thus it is expected to be suitable for distributed protocol design. These findings shed new light on wireless interference models; they also suggest new approaches to MAC protocol design in the presence of uncertainties in traffic and application properties.