18-452 / 18-750 Wireless Networks and Applications

Spring 2017

This course introduces fundamental concepts of wireless networks. The design of wireless networks is influenced heavily by how signals travel through space, so the course starts with an introduction to the wireless physical layer, presented in a way that is accessible to a broad range of students. The focus of the course is wireless MAC concepts including CSMA, TDMA/FDMA, and CDMA. It also covers a broad range of wireless networking standards, and reviews important wireless network application areas (e.g., sensor networks, vehicular) and other applications of wireless technologies (e.g., GPS, RFID, sensing, etc.). Finally, we will touch on public policy issues, e.g., as related to spectrum use.

The course will specifically cover:

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: 18-213, 15-213, or 15-513 or evidence that you have the equivalent background. 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, 1:30-2:30

Teaching Assistant

Niranjini Rajagopal
E-mail: niranjir AT andrew.cmu.edu
Office hour location: CIC 2214
Office Hours: Tuesday, 3:30-5:00pm

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

Course Secretary

Angela Malloy
E-mail: amalloy AT cs.cmu.edu
Office: Gates 9006


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, 2:30-4:20pm, in PH A19C. Recitations are Friday 10:30am-11:50am in PH 125B. We will only have recitations some weeks - check the schedule.

The lecture schedule listed that of a previous offering of the course, so it is very tentative. It will be updated as the semester progresses.

Week of Monday Wednesday Friday
Jan 16 MLK holiday 1. Introduction, wireless history No class
Jan 23 2. Wireless challenges versus OSI 3. Physical layer No class
Jan 30 4. Physical layer 5. Physical layer No class
Feb 6 6. Physical layer 7. Physical layer No class
Feb 13 8. Random Access in wireless 9. WiFi -
Feb 20 10. WLAN 11. Ad Hoc networking -
Feb 27 12. Ad Hoc networking 13. WiFi management 14. WiFi versions - paper
Optional: FAQ 802.11 futures
Mar 6 No lecture Midterm Spring break
Mar 13 Spring break Spring break Spring break
Mar 20 15. WiFi deployments no class no class
Mar 27 16. Wireless in the Internet, DTN 17. Cellular 18. Cellular
Apr 3 No class 19. Cellular No class
Apr 10 20. PAN 21. Sensor networks 22. Surveys: mmWave (Diana), slides, paper;
low power wireless (Ashwin), slides, paper;
channel aware optimization (Artur), slides, paper.
Apr 17 no class no class Carnival
Apr 24 23. RFID
24. Surveys: network coding (Sarah), slides, paper;
cellular handsets (Fatema), slides, paper;
spectrum auctions (Madhumitha), slides, paper ((sections I-III only);
25. Localization
May 1 26. Surveys: localization (Tyler), slides, paper;
backscatter/ambient (Yifei), slides, paper;
wireless security (Evi), slides, paper;
27. Project reviews 28. 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. Homeworks will be posted on piazza.

The course will also include a midterm and a final. The midterm will be on Monday, March 8, during class time. It is closed book and will cover the material in lectures 1-13. The date and location for the final will be posted by the registrar.


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.

This will be achieved using two hands-on projects that are executed by small teams of students. The first project will be a small measurement project to gain a better understanding of the properties of wireless channels. The second project involves the design, implementation, and evaluation of a wireless system. Details on the projects will be discussed in class and summerized on piazza.

Survey presentations

Survey schedule and updated list of papers.

A block of lectures in the course will be dedicated to more advanced topics. 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 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 Academic Integrity. 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 (12%), projects (8% and 25%), survey talk (10%), and 2 exams (15% midterm and 30% final).