Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio


The Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio is an international and dynamic research group with components coming from around the world. For a number of years this was the Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio website.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages.

The new owners of the site's domain have chosen to keep a number of the archived content as a historical reference of the collaboration among Supelec and Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) the research and teaching Alcatel - Lucent Chair.


The Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio

Ecole supérieure d'électricité (Supélec - has a very worldwide renowned experience in the broad field of wireless communications. The need to create an innovative research-through-training center able to develop innovative wireless systems brought Supélec to establish in June 2007 in collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) the research and teaching Alcatel - Lucent Chair in the area of Flexible Radio ( for mobile communications. The Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio is an international and dynamic research group with components coming from around the world (specifically from 15 countries and 5 continents). Its expertise includes (see for more details) small-cell and massive MIMO technologies but also a) cognitive radio and game theory; b) random matrix theory and free probability theory; c) statistical inference; and d) security. The research activities in these fields have been published in several leading journals and in most of the prestigious international conferences (see The research activity of the chair is either theoretical or more practical-oriented to the development of software tools. In particular, the chair has been working on software implementation of random matrix theory tools (, and has been developing a software defined radio platform (known as sdr4all to build a network MIMO small-cell platform with sdr4all prototypes acting as base stations and terminals.

The chair takes also advantage of the expertise of the related Supélec telecommunication teams on the campus of Gif-sur-Yvette and Rennes. For example, it works in close collaboration with the Telecommunications Department ( whose staff has also a long experience in wireless communications.  In addition, the chair is primarily involved in joint research activities with the Laboratoire des Signaux et Systèmes (L2S -  The chair is also part of the new RTRA Digiteo Labs (Réseau Thématique de Recherche Avancée pour la recherche en sciences et technologies de l'information) of the "plateau de Saclay" and takes advantage of the strong connections with different industrial bodies involved in the development of energy-efficient cellular networks. Among them, the chair works closely with Bell-Labs in Stuttgart and in New Jersey.

The head of the chair ( is Prof. Mérouane Debbah. Mérouane Debbah entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France) in 1996 where he received his M.Sc and Ph.D. degrees respectively. He worked for Motorola Labs (Saclay, France) from 1999-2002 and the Vienna Research Center for Telecommunications (Vienna, Austria) until 2003. He then joined the Mobile Communications department of the Institut Eurecom (Sophia Antipolis, France) as an Assistant Professor until 2007. He is now a Full Professor at Supélec and holder of the Alcatel-Lucent Chair on Flexible Radio.  In the field of wireless communications and signal processing, Prof. Mérouane Debbah has published 1 book – Random Matrix Methods for Wireless Communications, Cambridge University Press – more than 100 journal papers and 240 peer-reviewed conference papers, and holds 7 patents. A full list of these publications can be found at He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Fellow of the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF). He is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious 2011 IEEE Glavieux Award. 

His research topics are in information theory, signal processing, complex systems and random matrix theory. As recognition of his fruitful results in these fields, Mérouane Debbah has been recently selected as the recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) starting grant 2012-2017 MORE “Advanced Mathematical Tools for Complex Network Engineering”. The main objective of this project is to show how tools borrowed from physical and mathematical frameworks – random matrix theory, percolation theory, continuum models, game theory, mean field theory, stochastic geometry, just to a name a few – can capture most of the complexity of random dense wireless networks in order to unveil some relevant features on network-wide behavior.  Game theory applied to wireless communications has been also one of the major research topics of Meroune Debbah and his group. The main theme has been to use game theoretical tools to analyze distributed Resource allocation problems. Various methods and approaches have been adopted to study these problems: a) non-cooperative game-theory; b) cooperative game theory; c) learning algorithms in games and recently d)matching game theory.



About Supelec

A French “grande ecole” of engineering, sets standards of excellence in the areas of electrical engineering, information, energy and control systems. The quality of the 450 engineering degrees it awards every year is recognized all over the world.

SUPELEC pursues the triple goals of basic training, research and continuing education. A century-old institution, located in France in the Paris region at Gif-sur-Yvette since 1975, in Brittany at Rennes since 1972, and in Lorraine at Metz since 1985, Supélec is a three-campus institution organized as a network. This organization is a pedagogical model for teamwork from each respective site. The campuses make permanent use of the national work of learning, the Renater, and the Internet.

Supélec has a three fold mission: degree courses, research & development, continuing education. The organization of the Institute enables the teams focusing in specific fields within the three sectors of activity to work together in close synergy. Highly sophisticated equipment is made available to them. An essential feature of research at Supélec, whether fundamental or applied, is that it is based on the actual needs encountered in industry. It is carried out in close cooperation with industrial partners, in particular through research contracts, by the departments of education and research and by the research laboratories associated with Supélec. The close links between research and teaching make it possible to incorporate the latest scientific and technological advances into the student lectures, tutorials and practices. Research thus guarantees top quality education. Continuing education, on the other hand, allows engineers engaged in professional activities to adapt to new techniques or to increase their overall competence. The programs offered have been drawn up with and for industry. The involvement of faculty members and research personnel in these programs ensures real technology transfer between the Institute and its industrial partners.

*KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:* 2085 students, 460 engineering degrees, 186 non-degree training programs, 6 specialized Master programs, 135 full-time faculty, 660 part-time teachers, 180 administrators and staff, 7 laboratories and research departments, 264 doctoral students.



MORE (Advanced Mathematical Tools for Complex Network Engineering)

One of the most challenging problems in the engineering of complex  networks (Small Cell Networks, Smart Grid Networks or Wireless Sensor Networks among others) is to manage complexity. The key is to develop :

  1. the right abstractions to reason about the spatial and temporal dynamics of complex systems.
  2. understand how information and energy can be processed, stored, and transferred in the system with bounded delay.

The theoretical foundations of complex networks pose very challenging theoretical and practical problems which are the focus of the European Research Council Starting Grant sponsored project MORE (Advanced Mathematical Tools for Complex Network Engineering). The theoretical research is highly interdisciplinary and is a blend of many tools such as Random Matrix Theory, Mean Field Games or Decentralized Stochastic Optimization just to name a few. The goal of the team of the project MORE led by the Principal Investigator Prof. Mérouane DEBBAH is to provide a unified framework to address specific problems of Large Dimensional Stochastic Networks.

Cybernetics and Theory of Communications (1948)

  • ”A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, Bell System Technical Journal, 1948, C. E. Shannon
  • ”Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine”, Herman et Cie/The Technology Press, 1948, N. Wiener


Unlike the works of 1948, The path towards engineering complex networks requires to deal with new constraints:

  • Heterogeneity: The various inputs and outputs of the systems can be of different nature
  • Limited information: there may be limited or no communication between different systems and decisions have to be made based on such distributed information.
  • Temporal requirements: systems change rapidly and the system needs to adapt fast.

The Theory of MIMO Large Dimensional Stochastic Networks will be addressed by developping a unifying framework of new mathematical tools:

  • Random matrix theory: Historically used to analyze the performance of large point-to-point communication systems, RMT has recently been identified as a new means to characterize the performance of communication networks and a new tool to address signal processing problems in large sensor arrays (array processing, failure detection in networks, etc.). The mathematical foundations of RMT will be further developed within the scope of MORE to tackle the question of performance, optimization, and algorithm development for large dimensional networks.
  • Decentralized stochastic optimization: This tool, initiated in the area of decentralized computing, allows for the development and the analysis of decentralized algorithms and techniques in stochastic environments. In MORE, the decentralized stochastic optimization methods will be further developed to tackle the problem of delay-limited or communication-limited computation in large networks.
  • Game theory and mean field games: Game theory techniques have recently developed to study the performance and equilibria of stochastic decentralized systems with individual objectives. In large network conditions, mean field games are prevalent as they turn large but finite dimensional games into infinite-size games easier to characterize. In MORE, the strong mathematical limitations associated with these techniques will be explored and moved towards more practical system configurations.
  • Stochastic geometry: Stochastic geometry has developed in the scope of large communication networks to analyze the performance of individual nodes in homogeneous but random environments. Our objective in MORE is to extend and connect these methods with other tools to tackle the problem of inhomogeneous environments and cooperative network nodes.
  • Network information theory and coding: Network information theory analyzes the performance of communication networks with more than two nodes. In MORE, these techniques will be explored focusing on the problem of stochastic fast-changing environments.
  • Statistical mechanics: Statistical mechanics have historically known a large success in the physical study of large dimensional systems. These tools are often necessary to provide intuitive rather than accurate tools to tackle difficult large dimensional problems. In MORE, these approaches will be explored in the objective of connecting large dimensional systems to large physical systems well-known in classical physics.
  • Advanced signal processing methods: Classical signal processing methods used in networks and usually assuming large quantities of observations will be explored in the scope of large, fast-evolving environments, with limited number of observations.

The application scope browses a large palette of engineering areas:

  • Communication networks: Communication networks become increasingly complex as the legacy point-to-point interference limited approach (single large cell viewpoint) is being sequentially replaced by multipoint cooperative schemes (multiple small cells network). The mathematical tools developed in MORE will allow for a better understanding of the performance of such involved networks and for the development of optimization methods for these schemes.
  • Energy distribution networks: Power networks, formerly static and hierarchical, are also being increasingly replaced by decentralized autonomous nodes of a very large inter-dependent network. The understanding of the limitations and the development of new signal processing algorithms for these power networks (failure identification) is a goal of the project MORE.
  • Sensor arrays: The performance of sensor arrays with limited individual node capabilities (both in terms of storage and processing) in stochastic environment can be analyzed through distributed optimization. This is one goal of the MORE project aiming at developing tools for their analysis.




Imagine a highway which dynamically switches the number of dedicated downstream and upstream lanes according to the observed car traffic. The highway would go from two to three lanes if the traffic is dense. It would also signal to the different car drivers, depending on their needs, changes in their directions in order to ease the traffic process. It could also transform the road material (from smooth to harsh), to force the users to reduce their speed depending on the weather conditions for security reasons. In other words, it would flexibly adapt according to the external circumstances in order to absorb the traffic without the need of additional expensive infrastructures. Change now the highway into a telecommunication network and the car users into terminals and you will get what is known as flexible networks or radios. 

In the wireless arena, the increase of capacity to satisfy the users has been limited by the usual degrees of freedom namely, energy and bandwidth. Recently, a third resource known as intelligence (with its learning and flexible adaptation part) at all the layers of the network stack has been proposed to increase the performance of multi-user systems. With the multiplicity of standards that are appearing (LTE, UMTS, Wi-Max, Wi-fi..), intelligent networks will be designed to sense the different technologies and reconfigure (changing from a LTE to UMTS base station if UMTS terminals are present) to adapt to the standards which are present at a given time. They will also learn the behaviour of users and adapt accordingly to their past preferences. These are very simple examples of the subset of all the possibilities afforded by a flexible network.

Bell-labs (the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent) has a long standing history in the field of learning networks which dates back to Shannon in [1] and [2]. In these papers, Shannon describes the first learning devices and discusses theoretical developments of self-reproducing machines. In particular, he is known for his mechanical maze-solving mouse Theseus considered as the first simple intelligent device. Nowadays, flexible networks face much broader and complex problems due to three facts:     

Heterogeneity: systems are heterogeneous in transmit power, frequencies, range, QoS requirements, spectral efficiency and systems.

Limited information: there may be limited or no communication between different systems and decisions have to be made based on such distributed information.

Temporal requirements: systems change rapidly and the flexible radio needs to adapt fast.

One of the most challenging problems in the development of intelligent networks is to manage complexity. The key is to develop :

  1. the right abstractions to reason about the spatial and temporal dynamics of complex systems.
  2. understand how information can be processed, stored, and transferred in the system with bounded delay.

The foundations of flexible radio pose very challenging theoretical and practical problems which are the focus of this chair. The theoretical research is highly interdisciplinary and is a blend of:

Statistical inference methods to build devices which would carry plausible reasoning (Maximum Entropy methods,..).

Game theoretic techniques (based on rational players) to promote distributed resource allocation schemes.

Control theory to understand the use of feedback/signalling mechanisms.

Random matrix and free probability theory to reduce the dimensionality of the problem i.e find the parameters of interest in a network rather than optimizing through simulations with 1 billion parameters.

Physics to study how information can be processed, stored, and transferred in the network.

Network Information theory to understand the fundamental limits achievable with intelligent devices.

For more information, contact: merouane.debbah (at)

[1] "Programming a Computer for Playing Chess", C. Shannon, Philosophical Magazine, Series 7, Vol. 41 (No. 314, March 1950), pp. 256-275
[2] "Computers and Automata", C. Shannon, Proceedings of the IRE, Volume 41, Issue 10, Oct. 1953 Page(s):1234 - 1241



DigiCosme Spring School 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014 - 12:30 to Friday, May 16, 2014 - 14:30
Supélec, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
The second DigiCosme Spring School will take place from May 12th until May 16th 2014 at the Supélec campus of Gif which is located on the Plateau de Saclay, France (around 25 km in the south of Paris).
The school's theme for the spring is: Mathematical tools for data storage and coding in networks.

Signal Processing and Optimization for Wireless Communications: In Memory of Are Hjorungnes
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 08:30 to Friday, May 24, 2013 - 17:00

4G and Beyond Workshop
Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 09:00 to 17:00

Workshop on Wireless Communications
Monday, June 27, 2011 - 09:00 to Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 15:00
Beijing, China
This workshop is a first event organized by Tsinghua Universityand SUPELEC towards a wider research cooperation between the twoinstitutions in the future. The program covers a wide range of topics in the fieldof wireless communications including IMT Advanced and 4G networks, greencommunications, cognitive radio, MIMO systems, cooperative communicationsand relaying, fundamental technologies and mathematical tools, and videoapplications. The presentations included in the program are not only fromTsinghua University and SUPELEC, but also from several industrial partnersactive in these fields.

Workshop on Flexible Networks
Fundamentals of Communications and Networking Workshop

Next Generation Wireless Green Networks Workshop
Thursday, November 5, 2009 - 09:00 to Friday, November 6, 2009 - 17:00
Amphithéâtre Janet, Supélec, campus of Gif-sur-Yvette, Supélec.
The Next Generation Wireless Green Networks (NGWGN) workshop gathers world class speakers coming from various academic, consulting and industrial institutions.The aim of the workshop is to discuss the futur of wireless technologies providing high data rate transmissions under environnemental and power consumption constraints. The workshop focuses on inter-disciplinary research ranging from energy efficiency issues (power consumptions and carbon-footprint) to the design of photo-voltaic green antennas and self-organized intelligent and flexible infrastructures which will make Green Radio a reality. Green economics will also be discussed to understand the business opportunities provided by these technologies. The workshop organized by the Large Networks and Systems Group (LANEAS) together with SEE, will take place at Supélec on the 5th and 6th November 2009 on the Campus of Gif-sur-Yvette.

Workshop On Wireless Communications and Networks
Workshop on Information, Energy and Environment
Monday, June 23, 2008 - 09:00 to Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - 15:15