On design criteria and construction of noncoherent space-time constellations

Mohammad Jaber Borran, Ashutosh Sabharwal, Behnaam Aazhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We consider the problem of digital communication in a Rayleigh flat-fading environment using a multiple-antenna system, when the channel state information is available neither at the transmitter nor at the receiver. It is known that at high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), or when the coherence interval is much larger than the number of transmit antennas, a constellation of unitary matrices can achieve the capacity of the noncoherent system. However, at low SNR, high spectral efficiencies, or for small values of coherence interval, the unitary, constellations lose their optimality and fail to provide an acceptable performance. In this work, inspired by the Stein's lemma, we propose to use the Kullback-Leibler (KL) distance between conditional distributions to design space-time constellations for noncoherent communication. In fast fading, i.e., when the coherence interval is equal to one symbol period and the unitary construction provides only one signal point, the new design criterion results in pulse amplitude modulation (PAM)-type constellations with unequal spacing between constellation points. We also show that in this case, the new design criterion is equivalent to design criteria based on the exact pairwise error probability and the Chernoff information. When the coherence interval is larger than the number of transmit antennas, the resulting constellations overlap with the unitary constellations at high SNR, but at low SNR they have a multilevel structure and show significant performance improvement over unitary constellations of the same size. The performance improvement becomes especially more significant when an appropriately designed outer code or multiple receive antennas are used. This property, together with the facts that the proposed constellations eliminate the need for training sequences and are most suitable for low SNR, makes them a good candidate for uplink communication in wireless systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2332-2351
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Fading channels
  • Multiple-antenna systems
  • Non-coherent constellations
  • Space-time modulation
  • Wireless communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'On design criteria and construction of noncoherent space-time constellations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this