18-759: Wireless Networks

Spring 2016

This course introduces fundamental concepts of wireless networks. The provides an introduction to the wireless physical layer, presented in a way that is accessible for students with only a computer systems background), discuss used wireless MAC mechanisms, and describe commonly used wireless data communication standards and applications. The second half of the semester coveres advanced topics based on research papers. Specifically, we will cover the following topics:

The course will not only address the technical aspects of wireless networking, but will also contribute to the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.

All information regarding this course will be posted on this web page so please check the page regularly. We will also make announcements in class. This course does not use Blackboard.

Prerequisites: 18-345 and 15-213 (or 15-441 as a substitute); 18-396; and 36-217 (36-225 or 36-325 as substitutes). Graduate students can use equivalent courses taken at another institutions. C/C++ and/or Java programming skills are also needed for the project. We have created a reading list for students who need to build up their networking background.



Prof. Peter Steenkiste
E-mail: prs AT cs.cmu.edu
Office: Gates 9107
Office Hours: Friday, 10:30-11:30

Teaching Assistant

Hsu-Chieh Hu
E-mail: hsuchieh AT andrew.cmu.edu
Office: NSH 1604A
Office Hours: Thursday 10:30-11:30 NSH 1604A

E-mail: TBD
Office: TBD
Office Hours: TBD

Course Secretary

Angela Malloy
E-mail: amalloy AT cs.cmu.edu
Office: Gates 9114


The textbook for the course is "Wireless Communication Networks and Systems", Cory Beard and William Stallings, Pearson, first edition, 2015. It does not cover all the course material, but it is the "best fit".

Course schedule

Lectures will be held Monday and Wednesday, 4:30-6:30pm, in Scaife Hall room 219. Recitations are on Friday, 10:30-11:20, in the same room. We will only have recitations some weeks - check the schedule.

The lecture schedule listed below is tentative. It will be updated as the semester progresses.

Week from Monday Wednesday Friday
Jan 11 1. Introduction, wireless history 2. Wireless challenges versus OSI No class
Jan 18 MLK holiday 3. Physical layer No class
Jan 25 4. Physical layer 5. Physical layer 6. Physical layer
Feb 1 No class No class 7. Physical layer
Feb 8 8. Random Access in wireless 9. WiFi -
Feb 15 10. WLAN 11. Wifi variants -
Feb 22 12. MIMO and UWB
paper - Optional: FAQ 802.11 futures
13. PAN (HS) -
Feb 29 14. Sensor networks Midterm Midterm Solutions ; sample midterm Spring break
Mar 7 Spring break Spring break Spring break
Mar 14 No class 15. Wireless in the Internet 16. Cellular
Mar 21 17. Cellular 18. Cellular No class
Mar 28 19. Cellular 20. RFID
21. Localization -
Apr 4 22. Survey: Localization - paper
23. Challenged networks: DTN and vehicular TBD
Apr 11 no class 24. Surveys: Rate adaptation - paper
Cellular infrastructure - paper
Apr 18 25. DSA, WhiteFi paper No class -
Apr 25 25. Surveys: Spectrum auctions - paper
Mesh networking - paper
26. Survey: Low power wireless - paper
Course review


Four homeworks will be assigned throughout the course. Homeworks must be handed in (hardcopy) during class, or with the course secretary before class (by 2:30pm) by the due date. Homeworks cannot be submitted electronically through e-mail or blackboard. Late homeworks will be assessed a 30% penalty. No homeworks will be accepted more than one day late.

The homework schedule below is for Spring 2012.

Homeworks Description Out Due Solution
HW1 Physical layer Feb 5 Feb 15, class time solution1
HW2 MAC Feb 24 Feb 29, class time solution2
HW3 Erlang table Cellular and GPS Apr 6 Apr 13,class time solution3
HW4 Survey Talks Apr 25 May 1, class time solution4

The course will also include a midterm and a final. The midterm will be on Wednesday, February 29, during class time - the grade distribution for the midterm can be found here. It is closed book and will cover the material in lectures 1-14.


The course includes a hands-on projects that are executed by small teams of students. More details on the projects can be found here.

The educational objectives of the course project include the ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering; to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data; to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within real-world constraints; the ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams; and to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. The projects will also help clarify some aspects of professional behavior.

The project deadlines are summarized below for your convenience:

Milestone Comment
Wed, Feb 1 Project proposal E-mail
Fr, Feb 19 Project design E-mail a PDF
Th, Mar 17 Checkpoint 1 E-mail
Th, Apr 7 Checkpoint 2 E-mail
Last week of classes Final presentation Class room

Survey presentations

About one quarter of the course will be dedicated to to more advanced topics. This part of the course will consist of presentations by both the instructor and by the students. Each student will prepare and present one survey. More details on the survey assignment, including list of topics, can be found in the Survey Handout. That page also includes a list of papers for each topic. The papers for this year can be found on the The schedule for the student talks can be found on the Survey Papers page.

The survey deadlines are summarized below for your convenience:

Milestone Comment
Wed, Feb 17 List of topic due E-mail
Fr, Feb 19 Instructors announce topics Web page
March - April In class presentations Schedule on web page
7 days before presentation Submit draft slides to instructors Earlier is always better

The survey lectures are part of the course, and the material presented in the presentations will be covered in the homeworks and final. Specifically, the slides used in the survey presentation and one of the papers on the reading list, should be studied to prepare for the final. Both the slides and the selected paper can be found in the table with the course schedule.

The education goals for the survey presentations include a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning; and an ability to communicate effectively.

Academic Integrity

Students at Carnegie Mellon are engaged in preparation for professional activity of the highest standards. Each profession constrains its members with both ethical responsibilities and disciplinary limits. To assure the validity of the learning experience a university establishes clear standards for student work, as described in the document on Cheating and Plagiarism. These rules will be strictly enforced in this course.

If you drop the course it is your responsibility to notify the instructor and your team member(s) in your project and survey team as soon as possible. Losing a team member is very disruptive to the rest of the team, so it is important that we can adjust the team as quickly as possible.


Grades will be determined based on homeworks (10%), project (30%), survey talk (10%), and 2 exams (20% midterm and 30% final).