As we all know the capacity for a AWGN channel with constant noise variance is just given by $$\frac{1}{2}\log(1+SNR)$$

What if the variance of the noise changes with the type (assuming the variance is known for any time index)? Consider the following discrete channel: $$ y[n] = x[n] + w[n], \quad n=1,\dots,N $$ where $w[n]$ is the noise during the $n$-th symbol distributed as $\mathcal{N}(0,\sigma^2_n)$, with known $\{\sigma_n^2\}_{n=1}^N$.

  • What is the capacity defined in such case?
  • It should be related to some dynamic rate control, right?
  • Could anyone give me some reference on related topic?
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know the answer, but I suspect the capacity can be calculated with the same formula, with the smallest SNR in your sequence. $\endgroup$
    – MBaz
    Mar 27 '15 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ The standard capacity calculations are asymptotic results; we need to let $N$ increase without bound, which for your model means that we have to have complete knowledge of the future values of $\sigma^2_n$ for all integers $n$. $\endgroup$ Mar 28 '15 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @DilipSarwate Thanks for the reply. If we have the complete knowledge of the future values of $\sigma_n^2$ for all integers $n$, and the constant signal power $P$, how's the capacity defined? Or it's only meaningful for constant noise power? That's where I'm confusing. $\endgroup$
    – Bo LI
    Mar 29 '15 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ Search the literature for things like "arbitrarily varying channels" for the most general results. $\endgroup$ Mar 29 '15 at 13:29

I think you are looking for the information rate,

$$ I(x_{1},x_{2},\cdots,x_{n}; y_{1}, y_{2}, \cdots, y_{n}) = \frac{1}{n} \sum_{i=1}^{n} I( x_{i};y_{i} ) $$

when input achieves the capacity of the channel $ x \sim N(0,P) $. Then,

$$ C = \frac{1}{2n} \sum_{i=1}^{n} \log \left( 1 + \text{SNR}_{i} \right) $$

I think every time we use the channel we have a new random variable $ y $ since we have a memoryless channel and $ w $ changes. Then, we have a sequence of related random variables $ \left\lbrace x_{i} \right\rbrace $ and $ \left\lbrace y_{i} \right\rbrace $. With the information rate we compute the mutual information between this two sequences.

A good reference about this Elements of Information Theory.

I hope this could help you.


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