Potential and Pitfalls of Multi-Armed Bandits for Decentralized Spatial Reuse in WLANs

Published in Journal of Network and Computer Applications (JNCA), 2018

Recommended citation: Wilhelmi, F., Barrachina-Muñoz, S., Bellalta, B., Cano, C., Jonsson, A., & Neu, G. (2019). Potential and pitfalls of multi-armed bandits for decentralized spatial reuse in wlans. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 127, 26-42. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1084804518303655

Abstract: Spatial Reuse (SR) has recently gained attention for performance maximization in IEEE 802.11 Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). Decentralized mechanisms are expected to be key in the development of SR solutions for next-generation WLANs, since many deployments are characterized by being uncoordinated by nature. However, the potential of decentralized mechanisms is limited by the significant lack of knowledge with respect to the overall wireless environment. To shed some light on this subject, we show the main considerations and possibilities of applying online learning to address the SR problem in uncoordinated WLANs. In particular, we provide a solution based on Multi-Armed Bandits (MABs) whereby independent WLANs dynamically adjust their frequency channel, transmit power and sensitivity threshold. To that purpose, we provide two different strategies, which refer to selfish and environment-aware learning. While the former stands for pure individual behavior, the second one aims to consider the performance experienced by surrounding networks, thus taking into account the impact of individual actions on the environment. Through these two strategies we delve into practical issues of applying MABs in wireless networks, such as convergence guarantees or adversarial effects. Our simulation results illustrate the potential of the proposed solutions for enabling SR in future WLANs, showing that substantial improvements on network performance can be achieved regarding throughput and fairness.

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