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Larry Blakeley (May 21, 2007)

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We introduce a new class of problems called network information flow which is inspired by computer network applications. Consider a point-to-point communication network on which a number of information sources are to be mulitcast to certain sets of destinations. We assume that the information sources are mutually independent. The problem is to characterize the admissible coding rate region. This model subsumes all previously studied models along the same line. In this paper, we study the problem with one information source, and we have obtained a simple characterization of the admissible coding rate region. Our result can be regarded as the Max-flow Min-cut Theorem for network information flow. Contrary to one’s intuition, our work reveals that it is in general not optimal to regard the information to be multicast as a “fluid” which can simply be routed or replicated. Rather, by employing coding at the nodes, which we refer to as network coding, bandwidth can in general be saved. This finding may have significant impact on future design of switching systems.

- "Network Information Flow," Rudolf Ahlswede http://www.math.uni-bielefeld.de/ahlswede/homepage/, Ning Cai, Shuo-Yen Robert Li http://www.ie.cuhk.edu.hk/index.php?id=87, Senior Member, IEEE, and Raymond W. Yeung http://www.ie.cuhk.edu.hk/index.php?id=99, Senior Member, IEEE, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume 46, Number 4, July, 2000 Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9448(00)05297-4

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) homepage here http://www.ieee.org/portal/site

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Post Date: March 18, 2005 at 11:15 AM CST; 1715 GMT