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The viability of cooperative communications largely depends on the willingness of users to help. However, in future wireless networks where users are rational and pursue different objectives, they will not help relay information for others unless this can improve their own utilities. Therefore, it is very important to study the incentive issues when designing cooperative communication systems. In this paper, we propose a cooperation stimulation scheme for multiuser cooperative communications using indirect reciprocity game. By introducing the notion of reputation and social norm, rational users who care about their future utilities get the incentive to cooperate with others. Different from existing works on reputation based schemes that mainly rely on experimental verifications, we theoretically demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed scheme in two steps. First, we conduct steady state analysis of the game and show that cooperating with users having good reputation can be sustained as an equilibrium when the cost-to-gain ratio is below a certain threshold. Then, by modeling the action spreading at transient states as an evolutionary game, we show that the equilibria we found in the steady state analysis are stable and can be reached with proper initial conditions. Moreover, we introduce energy detection to handle possible cheating behaviors of users and study its impact to the proposed indirect reciprocity game. Finally, simulation results are shown to verify the effectiveness of the proposed scheme.
Date of Publication: December 2012