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Uplink Scheduling in CDMA Packet-Data Systems
Krishnan Kumaran, Lijun Qian
Abstract\u2014 Uplink scheduling in wireless systems is gaining im-

portance due to arising uplink intensive data services (ftp, image uploads etc.), which could be hampered by the currently in-built asymmetry in favor of the downlink. In this work, we propose and study algorithms for ef\ufb01cient uplink packet-data scheduling in a CDMA cell. The algorithms attempt to maximize system through- put under transmit power limitations on the mobiles assuming in- stantaneous knowledge of user queues and channels. However no channel statistics or traf\ufb01c characterization is necessary. Apart from increasing throughput, the algorithms also improve fairness of service among users, hence reducing chances of buffer over\ufb02ows for poorly located users.

The major observation arising from our analysis is that it is advantageous on the uplink to schedule \u201cstrong\u201d users one-at-a- time, and \u201cweak\u201d users in larger groups. This contrasts with the downlink where one-at-a-time transmission for all users has shown to be the preferred mode in much previous work. Based on the optimal schedules, we propose less complex and more practi- cal approximate methods, both of which offer signi\ufb01cant perfor- mance improvement compared to one-at-a-time transmission, and the widely acclaimedProportional Fair (PF) algorithm, in simu- lations. When queue content cannot be fed back, we propose a simple modi\ufb01cation of PF,Uplink PF (UPF), that offers similar improvement.

Index Terms\u2014 Scheduling, Uplink, Reverse Link, CDMA.

Data scheduling in wireless networks is a widely studied topic due to the impending explosion of high speed wire- less data services in third generation (3G) systems. For nat- ural reasons associated with the expected traf\ufb01c characteris- tics, most of the previous research has focused on the forward- link/downlink, i.e. base to mobile communication (see [1], [2], [3] and references therein for examples, or proceedings of the last several IEEE INFOCOMs!). The traf\ufb01c is expected to be dominated by web browsing and \ufb01le downloads. As a re- sult, current wireless data systems employ highly asymmetric link designs (e.g. HDR) with skinny uplinks and fat downlink pipes [4]. However, it has also often been pointed out that there could be a proportional increase in reverse-link/uplink traf\ufb01c in the form of acknowledgments, feedback etc. along with the growth of other services like ftp, image/data uploads etc. which require high data rates on the uplink. These considera- tions have resulted in some research on the subject of uplink scheduling [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], although small com- pared to the literature on downlink scheduling. There is also some amount of related work from information theoretic point of view, see [11], [12] and references therein, on the subject of wireless multiaccess channels. We discuss the relationship of our work to these approaches in greater detail below.

The authors are from the Math Research at Bell Labs, Lucent Tech., Murray
Hill, NJ. E-mail:{kumaran,ljqian}@research.bell-labs.com.

In this work, we consider the problem of optimal scheduling of uplink user transmissions in a single CDMA cell. We assume that the system operates in a TD/CDMA manner, with time- slotted scheduling of transmissions, assisted by periodic feed- back of channel and/or congestion information through control channels. The base station then controls user transmission rates via downlink signaling. While our general goals are similar to those of the prior work on uplink scheduling, we formulate the problem in a different manner that enables ef\ufb01cient computa- tion of throughput optimal schedules. Moreover, we observe that the optimal schedules are reasonably well approximated by some very simple scheduling rules that may be implemented with modest effort in 3G systems. The optimal schedules, as well as our proposed approximations, seem to possess an in- tuitively appealing property that is consistent with traditional observations about wireless transmission:it is advantageous

for users with weak channels to transmit simultaneously, and
for users with strong channels to transmit one-at-a-time1. The

intuition behind this is that the added interference at the base from simultaneous transmissions of weakly recieved users to each other is small compared to the extraneous interference, and thereby does not affect the user SIRs and data rates signi\ufb01- cantly. On the contrary, for users recieved strongly at the base, the penalty in terms of SIR and data rate with simultaneous transmission can be quite signi\ufb01cant.

As mentioned earlier, there is some previous work on the subject of this paper, scheduling for CDMA uplink [7], [10], [9]. However, the previous work addresses somewhat different problems, and does not offer the solutions that we do below to maximize uplink scheduling gains while meeting rate/QoS re- quirements among competing users. Perhaps the closest work that arrives at roughly similar qualitative conclusion of \u201cOne- strong or many-weak\u201d is [13], which solves a dynamic pro- gramming formulation of a static uplink scheduling problem. Some useful observations regarding the optimality of \u201cbang- bang\u201d control (each user is either silent or transmiting at full power in each slot) were made in [14] and subsequent work, but the authors do not solve the single-cell optimal scheduling problem conclusively. The approach of maximizing rate sum or SIR sum, taken in [10], [9] is often a practically poor option, since it mostly bene\ufb01ts users in favorable locations while ignor- ing the performance seen by the disadvantaged users. As for the information theoretic approaches of [11], [12], these works deal extensively with various issues such as optimal power con- trol, ergodic capacity, delay limited capacity etc., but in all cases with constraints onlong term average transmit power and assuming continuously backlogged users with known channel

1Hereafter, we refer to users with low recieved power at the base even when
transmitting at peak transmit power as \u201cweak\u201d users, and the strongly recieved
users at the base as \u201cstrong\u201d users.
0-7803-7753-2/03/$17.00 (C) 2003 IEEE
statistics. Our work focuses on air interface scheduling with
instantaneous constraints on transmit powerand without these

assumptions, but using feedback-based knowledge of instanta- neous channel conditions and user queue. While the need to eliminate channel statistics assumptions is obvious, the intro- duction of instantaneous power limits re\ufb02ects the limitations of most current mobile devices more accurately than long-term averages. Also, the assumption of continuous backlog for all users is unrealistic, as data traf\ufb01c is typically bursty in nature.

Our main focus is on optimizing user QoS measures (queue lengths/delays) using knowledge about users\u2019 instantaneous queue length (or delay) status and instantaneous channel con- dition. As a by-product, our methods also provide greater de- gree of fairness, in addition to improved throughput, compared to widely used scheduling algorithms (e.g.Proportional Fair (PF), Max C/I, etc.). Furthermore, we also consider the effect of limited orthogonality among the user codes through theorthog-

onality factor, which we show tends to encourage simultaneous

user transmission due to reduced interference. Based on ob- servations from the optimal method, we also propose a simple modi\ufb01cation of the widely used PF algorithm, termedUplink

PF(UPF), that demonstrates substantial performance improve-

ment in simulations. UPF uses the same information as PF, but is designed to encourage simultaneous transmission by \u201cweak\u201d users, which greatly improves performance.

The rest of the presentation begins with the derivation of the feasible SNR region on the uplink in Section II, implicitly withf= 1. This is followed by a formulation of the optimal scheduling problem in terms of the user rates and the feasible SNR region in Section III. We then show how the optimal solu- tion can be obtained with low computational effort later in Sec- tion III. We then discuss the in\ufb02uence of choosing other values forf\u2208[0,1] in Section IV, and give a procedure to solve for the optimal schedule when0< f < 0.5. This is followed by a discussion of approximate scheduling algorithms derived from the optimal solution in Section V, combined with a descrip- tion of related benchmark algorithms. Finally, in Section VI, simulation results are presented to compare all the algorithms discussed before conclusions in Section VIII.


Consider the uplink of a single CDMA cell servingN users. LetPibe the instantaneous received power and\u03b3ithe SIR of theith user. For simplicity, we expressPiin units of the total interferenceI+ \u03c3, where\u03c3 is thermal noise andI is the to- tal instantaneous interference from other sources, such as other cells in the network. In order to meet the SIR requirement of all users, we must then have for eachi


The feasible SIR vectors\u03b3 speci\ufb01ed by (1) above has been de- rived in many previous papers [5], [8], [6], and we recall it be- low to point out the speci\ufb01c aspects utilized later in our schedul- ing algorithm. Given the peak received power of theith user\u00af

computed using the path gainGiand peak transmit power\u00af
iGi, we may change variables to \u03b8i=Pi
Pito rewrite
(1) as

A given SIR vector\u03b3iis feasible if (2) can be satis\ufb01ed with equality with0\u2264\u03b8i\u22641for alli. We hence examine the solution to the set of linear equations

Pj+1which can be further rewritten
Pi(1 +1
\u03b3i) =
It can be seen by inspection that the solution is of the form
Pi(1 +1
\u03b3i) =Cwhere Cis a global parameter. The value of
Ccan be obtained by substituting the postulated solution in (3)
to obtainC= C
\u03b3j+1+1which gives the \ufb01nal solution
Pi(1 +\u03b3i)
1+\u03b3iwe see that

Clearly,0\u2264\u03b1i<1. Since we require 0\u2264 \u03b8i\u22641, equa- tions (5) result in the following feasibility conditions to meet the required SIRs.

Note the simple linear form of the feasible SIRs (6) in terms of
the\u03b1i, about which we make the following observations:
\u2022When there is no power limitation, i.e.\u00af
Piare arbitrar-
ily large for eachi, equations (6) collapse into the sin-
gle condition
j\u03b1j\u22641, which is the simple, single-cell

version of the well-known stability condition for uplink power control. In this case, as we later show, the feasible SIR region has a fully concave boundary which is domi- nated by its convex hull composed by time-sharing single user transmissions.

\u2022When the power limitations are severe, i.e.\u00af
Piare small
for eachi, the constraints (6) approach independent box
Pifor each i, and simultaneous
transmission is favored.
\u2022For intermediate cases, where some\u00af
Piare large and oth-

ers small, the optimal scheduling strategy involves time- sharing over different subsets of simultaneously transmit- ting users. An interesting observation regarding the opti- mal strategy, that we prove below, is that all transmitting users would always transmit at full power, i.e. at\u00af


In the subsequent section, we analyze the last item above, which is the most likely practical scenario, to determine the optimal transmitting sets.

0-7803-7753-2/03/$17.00 (C) 2003 IEEE

Our overall scheduling approach mirrors the downlink scheduling algorithms proposed in [15], [16], [1], [3], where a weighted sum of user rates is maximized for each scheduling interval. This choice has provable stability properties shown in much previous work in various contexts involving data schedul- ing and resource allocation. The weights may be chosen to op- timize one of many possible performance measures, including average queue length, delay, or corresponding percentiles, and other similar criteria. A version of the algorithm that guaran- teesqueue stability, i.e. boundedness of queue lengths when feasible, is speci\ufb01ed as the rate choice that satis\ufb01es

R\u2217= arg max
R\u2208RQ\u00b7 R

whereR,Q are rate and queue vectors of the user set respec- tively, andR is therate region, or the set of feasible rate vec- tors. Minimum/maximum instantaneous rate guarantees may be satis\ufb01ed by restricting the rate regionR appropriately. Thus, the general optimal scheduling problem can be solved if one has a technique to solve forR\u2217in

R\u2217= arg max
R\u2208Rw\u00b7 R.
for arbitrary given weightsw.
To formulate (7) for uplink CDMA scheduling, we require a
relationship between rate and SIR asR\ue001
=f (\u03b3)for each user.

We assume this relationship to beconcave in the argument\u03b3, as is the case for the Shannon formula for the AWGN Gaus- sian channel whereR= \u03b2log(1 + \u03b3). Since (6) are linear

=\u03b3/(1 +\u03b3), it is more convenient to consider theR, \u03b1

relationshipR= g(\u03b1) which is nowconvex for the Shannon formula asg(\u03b1) = \u03b2log[1/(1\u2212 \u03b1)]. (7) then becomes the fol- lowing optimization problem:

subject to
Pi\u22641, \u03b1i \u22650

Typicallygi(\u00b7) =g(\u00b7)\u2200iare identical functions, as is the case for the Shannon formula, but our results remain unaffected even if they were all different, as long as they stayconvex. Before discussing methods to solve (8), (9), we observe some useful properties of the optimal solution.

Theorem 1:The optimal schedule has the property that each
transmitting user transmits at full power, i.e.Pi= 0for some
subsetS of the users andPi=\u00af
Pifor the complementary set\u00af
Proof:Equations (9) specify2N constraints on the feasi-
ble\u03b1i. From standard theorems on convex maximization with
linear constraints, it is easy to see that the optimum occurs at
corner pointof (9) due to the joint-convexity of (8) in the\u03b1i.

Corner points of (9) have exactlyN of the2N constraints bind- ing, i.e., some subset of the\u03b1iare null, while the complemen- tary set saturate their respective constraints in the \ufb01rst equation of (9). Combining this observation with (5) results in\u03b8i= 1 for the complementary set, thus proving the theorem.

Theorem 2:Without power constraints, i.e.\u00af
Pi=\u221e \u2200 i,
the optimal schedule picks a single user at each scheduling in-
Proof:In this case, the \ufb01rst equation of (9) reduces to
the single constraint
j\u03b1j\u22641, reducing the number of con-

straints toN+1 including the non-negativity constraints. From an argument similar to the proof of Theorem 1, we see that ex- actlyN\u22121 of the\u03b1iare 0 and only one is set at unity on any corner point. One of these is the optimal solution, namely

= arg maxiwigi(\u03b1i).
We now present the solution to (8), (9), which determines
the subsetS,\u00af
Sfor each scheduling interval. De\ufb01ning\u039b\ue001
Nj=1\u03b1j, we rewrite (8), (9) as
subject to
= \u039b
Pi(1\u2212 \u039b)
Rate g( )
Fig. 1. Rate vs.\u03b1 forf\u2208[0.5,1] for \ufb01xed\u039b.

For any \ufb01xed value of\u039b, (10) and (11) have a simple greedy solution forgi(\u00b7)convex. The idea behind the procedure is il- lustrated in Figure 1, where the convex rate curve is replaced by a straight line joining the endpoints. This is valid on account of Theorem 1, which implies that the\u03b1ialways take one of the bounding values in the constraints of eqs. (11) if\u039b is appropri- ately chosen. The algorithm to construct the solution is outlined below:

1) Let\u00af
Pi(1\u2212 \u039b)}. Order the users according
to decreasing value of the quantityvi=wi
2) Assign\u03b1i= \u00af
\u03b1ifor the user with the highest value of vi.
3) Update as\u039b\u2192 \u039b\u2212 \u00af
\u03b1iand repeat with remaining users.
The user ordering will not change if\u039b\u2265\u00af
Pi(1\u2212 \u039b)for
0-7803-7753-2/03/$17.00 (C) 2003 IEEE

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