Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Mudumbai, Raghu

First Committee Member

Dasgupta, Soura

Second Committee Member

Bai, Er-Wei

Third Committee Member

Kruger, Anton

Fourth Committee Member

Chipara, Octav


We describe a set of fundamental contributions to the design, analysis and implementation of distributed MIMO techniques in wireless networks. The main idea behind distributed MIMO is to organize groups of wireless transmitters and receivers into distributed antenna arrays to cooperatively achieve beamforming and spatial multiplexing gains in ad-hoc wireless networks. This technique promises orders-of-magnitude increases in wireless data rates, however it presupposes very stringent timing, carrier frequency and phase synchronization of the RF signals between the cooperating nodes in the array.

Specifically in this dissertation, we consider a sub-class of distributed MIMO systems called distributed MISO systems. In other words, we focus on distributed transmit arrays, wherein a group of N transmitters organize themselves into a virtual antenna array (VAA) to talk to a single-antenna receiver. While distributed MIMO involves virtual arrays on both transmit and receive ends, transmit arrays require real-time coordination, and therefore present unique challenges as compared to receive arrays.

We explore two specific MISO techniques: i) distributed beamforming and ii) distributed nullforming in this work. Beamforming involves focusing transmitted energy selectively in the direction of an intended receiver, and nullforming involves forming a "null" i.e. having the transmissions of the different array nodes cancel each other completely at a desired location. Beamforming has the potential of substantially increasing the energy efficiency of wireless communications, while nullforming allows multiple nodes to communicate simultaneously over the same frequency band by carefully canceling the resulting interference. Beamforming and nullforming can also be thought of as basic building blocks for more sophisticated MIMO techniques.

In this work, we present a set of frequency synchronization and phase control algorithms to establish and maintain a VAA for distributed beamforming and nullforming. For frequency-locking, we propose a novel distributed consensus-based algorithm. For a VAA with two nodes, we show that our algorithm achieves frequency lock globally and exponentially with a residual phase disparity that is either 0 or pi. This is in contrast to PLL-like algorithms that only achieve lock locally.

Next, we describe in detail the key ideas behind an implementation of distributed beamforming on a GNU-radio/USRP based software-defined radio (SDR) platform. We introduce a novel DSP-centric Master-Slave (MS) architecture that enables the use of low-rate DSP algorithms for synchronization of high frequency RF signals. We describe the evolution of our implementation from initially using analog signaling with Costas loops/PLLs for frequency offset estimation and compensation, to a digital signaling scheme that uses extended Kalman filters (EKF) to track and compensate for frequency offsets. The EKF-based frequency locking scheme is well-suited for packet wireless networks, e.g., WiFi, ZigBee.

We next consider phase control algorithms for forming beams and nulls with a VAA. In our experimental implementation, we have used several variants of classical 1-bit feedback control algorithm during different stages of our work. 1-bit feedback algorithm is an iterative gradient-ascent algorithm which causes the VAA nodes' signals to add constructively at a designated receiver. We present results to demonstrate the gains in the RSS at the receiver due to beamforming in the real-time settings. We also describe a distributed gradient-descent based algorithm that causes VAA nodes to achieve a null at a designated null target. We provide detailed convergence analysis for the proposed null-steering algorithm. This analysis shows that the algorithm always achieves practical null at null-target; moreover, all the spurious stationary points are locally unstable. Finally, we conclude by providing suggestions for future work.


beamforming, frequency synchronization, nullforming, phase control, virtual antenna arrays


x, 98 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 92-98).


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Copyright 2013 Muhammad Mahboob Ur Rahman