Applying distributed constraint optimization approach to the user association problem in heterogeneous networks

Peibo Duan, Changsheng Zhang, Guoqiang Mao, Bin Zhang

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7 Citations (Scopus)


User association has emerged as a distributed resource allocation problem in the heterogeneous networks (HetNets). Although an approximate solution is obtainable using the approaches like combinatorial optimization and game theory-based schemes, these techniques can be easily trapped in local optima. Furthermore, the lack of exploring the relation between the quality of the solution and the parameters in the HetNet [e.g., the number of users and base stations (BSs)], at what levels, impairs the practicability of deploying these approaches in a real world environment. To address these issues, this paper investigates how to model the problem as a distributed constraint optimization problem (DCOP) from the point of the view of the multiagent system. More specifically, we develop two models named each connection as variable (ECAV) and each BS and user as variable (EBUAV). Hereinafter, we propose a DCOP solver which not only sets up the model in a distributed way but also enables us to efficiently obtain the solution by means of a complete DCOP algorithm based on distributed message-passing. Naturally, both theoretical analysis and simulation show that different qualitative solutions can be obtained in terms of an introduced parameter η which has a close relation with the parameters in the HetNet. It is also apparent that there is 6% improvement on the throughput by the DCOP solver comparing with other counterparts when η =3. Particularly, it demonstrates up to 18% increase in the ability to make BSs service more users when the number of users is above 200 while the available resource blocks (RBs) are limited. In addition, it appears that the distribution of RBs allocated to users by BSs is better with the variation of the volume of RBs at the macro BS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1696-1707
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cybernetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Distributed constraint optimization problem (DCOP)
  • heterogeneous networks (HetNets)
  • solution quality
  • user association

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