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The Multiport Communication Theory

Information theory serves well as the mathematical theory of communication. However, it contains no provision that makes sure its theorems are consistent with the physical laws that govern any existing realization of a communication system. Therefore, it may not be surprising that applications of information theory or signal processing, as currently practiced, easily turn out to be inconsistent with fundamental principles of physics, such as the law of conservation of energy. It is the purpose of multiport communication theory to provide the necessary framework ensuring that applications of signal processing and information theory actually do comply with physical law. This framework involves a circuit theoretic approach where the inputs and outputs of the communication system are associated with ports of a multiport black-box. Thanks to each port being described by a pair of two instead of just one variable, consistency with physics can be maintained. The connection to information theory and signal processing is then obtained by means of isomorphisms between mathematical (formal) symbols of the latter and the physical quantities of the multiport model. In this article, the principles of the multiport communication theory are presented and accompanied by a discussion of a number of interesting results of its application to single and multi-antenna radio communications in single- and multi-user contexts.



Josef A. Nossek
Technische Universität München

Josef A. Nossek earned the Dipl.-Ing. degree and the Dr. techn. degree, both in electrical engineering, from University of Technology in Vienna, Austria in 1974 and 1980, respectively. He joined SIEMENS AG, Munich, Germany, in 1974, where he was engaged in the design of both passive and active filters for communication systems. In 1978, he became Supervisor, and in 1980, Head of a group of labs engaged in designing monolithic filters (analog and digital). Since 1982, he has been the Head of a group of labs designing digital radio systems within the Transmission Systems Department of SIEMENS AG. In 1984, he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Capetown. From 1987 till 1989, Josef A. Nossek was Head of the Radio Systems Design Department, where he was instrumental in introducing high speed VLSI signal processing into digital microwave radio. Since April 1989, he has been a Professor of Circuit Theory and Design at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the field of circuit and system theory, and he leads research on signal processing algorithms in communications, especially multiantenna communication systems. Josef A. Nossek was President Elect, President and Past President of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society in the years 2001, 2002, and 2003, respectively. He was vicepresident of VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik e.V.) 2005, and 2006, and was President of VDE in 2007, and 2008. His awards include the ITG Best Paper Award 1988, the Mannesmann Mobilfunk (now Vodafone) Innovationsaward 1998, the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Bavarian Ministry for Science, Research and Art in1988. From the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society he received the Golden Jubilee Medal for "Outstanding Contributions to the Society" in 1999, and the Education Award in 2008. Josef A. Nossek was awarded the "Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande", in 2008. In 2009, he became elected member of acatech, the German National Academy of Engineering. In 2012 he received the Guillemin-Cauer Best Paper Award for the publication "Towards a Circuit Theory of Communication".


Michel T. Ivrlac
Technische Universität München

Michel T. Ivrlac received his first Dipl.- Ing. degree in electrical engineering from the Munich University of Applied Sciences, in 1994. He earned the second Dipl.-Ing. degree and the Dr.-Ing. degree in electrical engineering and information technology from the Technische Universität München (TUM) in 1998 and 2005, respectively. He presently holds the position of a senior researcher with the Institute for Circuit Theory and Signal Processing at TUM, where he is teaching couRses on circuit theory and communication. His main research interests are the physics of communications, signal processing for cellular networks, and coding for ultra high speed communications. He lives with his wife and children in Munich, Germany.