Massive MIMO Communication with Intelligent Reflecting Surface

Zhaorui Wang, Liang Liu, Shuowen Zhang, Shuguang Cui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper studies the feasibility of deploying intelligent reflecting surfaces (IRSs) in massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) systems to improve the performance of users in the service dead zone. One question of paramount importance is as follows: if the overhead of channel training and the computational complexity of algorithm design arising from the huge number of IRS reflecting elements and base station (BS) antennas have to be controlled, can we provide reasonable performance to the users with weak direct channels? This paper provides an affirm answer to this question. Specifically, to reduce the channel training overhead, we consider an appealing protocol for the uplink communication in the IRS-assisted massive MIMO systems. Under this protocol, the IRS reflection coefficients are optimized based on the channel covariance matrices, which are generally fixed for many coherence blocks, to boost the long-term performance. Then, given the IRS reflecting coefficients, the BS beamforming vectors are designed in each coherence block based on the effective channel of each user, which is the superposition of its direct and reflected user-IRS-BS channels, to improve the instantaneous performance. Since merely the user effective channels are estimated in each coherence block, the training overhead of this protocol is the same as that in the legacy wireless systems without IRSs. Moreover, in the asymptotic regime that the numbers of IRS elements and BS antennas both go to infinity with a fixed ratio, we manage to first characterize the minimum mean-squared error (MMSE) estimators of the user effective channels and then quantify the closed-form user achievable rates as functions of channel covariance matrices with channel training overhead and estimation error taken into account. Interestingly, it is shown that the properties of channel hardening and favorable propagation still hold for the user effective channels, and satisfactory user rates are thus achievable even if simple BS beamforming solutions, e.g., maximal-ratio combining, are employed. Finally, thanks to the rate characterization, we design a low-complexity algorithm to optimize the IRS reflection coefficients based on channel covariance matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9918632
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Antennas
  • Array signal processing
  • Channel estimation
  • Coherence
  • Massive MIMO
  • Protocols
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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