Intelligent Reflecting Surface Meets OFDM: Protocol Design and Rate Maximization

Yifei Yang, Beixiong Zheng, Shuowen Zhang, Rui Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

274 Citations (Scopus)


Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) is a promising new technology for achieving both spectrum and energy efficient wireless communication systems in the future. However, existing works on IRS mainly consider frequency-flat channels and assume perfect knowledge of channel state information (CSI) at the transmitter. Motivated by the above, in this paper we study an IRS-enhanced orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) system under frequency-selective channels and propose a practical transmission protocol with channel estimation. First, to reduce the overhead in channel training as well as exploit the channel spatial correlation, we propose a novel IRS elements grouping method, where each group consists of a set of adjacent IRS elements that share a common reflection coefficient. Based on this method, we propose a practical transmission protocol where only the combined channel of each group needs to be estimated, thus substantially reducing the training overhead. Next, with any given grouping and estimated CSI, we formulate the problem to maximize the achievable rate by jointly optimizing the transmit power allocation and the IRS passive array reflection coefficients. Although the formulated problem is non-convex and thus difficult to solve, we propose an efficient algorithm to obtain a high-quality suboptimal solution for it, by alternately optimizing the power allocation and the passive array coefficients in an iterative manner, along with a customized method for the initialization. Simulation results show that the proposed design significantly improves the OFDM link rate performance as compared to the case without using IRS. Moreover, it is shown that there exists an optimal size for IRS elements grouping which achieves the maximum achievable rate due to the practical trade-off between the training overhead and IRS passive beamforming flexibility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9039554
Pages (from-to)4522-4535
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • channel estimation
  • Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS)
  • OFDM
  • passive array optimization
  • power allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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