The Practical Challenges of Interference Alignment

Omar El Ayach, Steven W. Peters, Robert W. Heath, Jr.


submitted to IEEE Wireless Communications Magazine, June 2012


Interference alignment (IA) is a revolutionary wireless transmission strategy that reduces the impact of interference. The idea of interference alignment is to coordinate multiple transmitters so that their mutual interference aligns at the receivers, facilitating simple interference cancellation techniques. Since IA's inception, researchers have investigated its performance and proposed improvements, verifying IA's ability to achieve the maximum degrees of freedom (an approximation of sum capacity) in a variety of settings, developing algorithms for determining alignment solutions, and generalizing transmission strategies that relax the need for perfect alignment but yield better performance. This article provides an overview of the concept of interference alignment as well as an assessment of practical issues including performance in realistic propagation environments, the role of channel state information at the transmitter, and the practicality of interference alignment in large networks.