Phase Transition Analysis for Covariance-Based Massive Random Access With Massive MIMO (Ya-Feng Liu)


This paper considers a massive random access problem in which a large number of sporadically active devices wish to communicate with a base station (BS) equipped with massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas. Each device is preassigned a unique signature sequence, and the BS identifies the active devices by detecting which sequences are transmitted. This device activity detection problem can be formulated as a maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) problem for which the sample covariance matrix of the received signal is a sufficient statistic. The goal of this paper is to characterize the feasible set of problem parameters under which this covariance based approach is able to successfully recover the device activities in the massive MIMO regime. Through an analysis of the asymptotic behaviors of MLE via its associated Fisher information matrix, this paper derives a necessary and sufficient condition on the Fisher information matrix to ensure a vanishing probability of detection error as the number of antennas goes to infinity, based on which a numerical phase transition analysis is obtained. This condition is also examined from a perspective of covariance matching, which relates the phase transition analysis to a recently derived scaling law. Further, we provide a characterization of the distribution of the estimation error in MLE, based on which the error probabilities in device activity detection can be accurately predicted. Finally, this paper studies a random access scheme with joint device activity and data detection and analyzes its performance in a similar way.


IEEE Transactions on Information Theory ( Volume: 68, Issue: 3, March 2022)


Zhilin Chen

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Foad Sohrabi

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Ya-Feng Liu

State Key Laboratory of Scientific and Engineering Computing, Institute of Computational Mathematics and Scientific/ Engineering Computing, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science (AMSS), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing, China


Wei Yu

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada