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Syed Ali Irtaza, Jin Hyeok Yoo, Jun Won Choi
Electrical Engineering Department, Hanyang University
In this paper, we propose the technique for FDD-based massive MIMO that can reduce pilot overhead significantly
without degrading the channel estimation performance much by exploiting the joint temporal sparsity of the channel
impulse response (CIR).

. Introduction
The massive multi-input multi-output (M-MIMO)
technique deploys hundreds of transmit antennas in base
station to accommodate a large number of users over
spatial domain. In frequency division duplexed (FDD)
M-MIMO systems, channel reciprocity cannot be
exploited and hence the downlink pilots should be
transmitted, thereby leading to substantial pilot overhead
in downlink.
In this paper, we introduce a new downlink pilot
reduction method that exploits the common sparsity
structure of the channel impulse response (CIR) over a
local period of time. Our simulation results show that
we achieve significant reduction in pilot overhead while
maintaining good channel estimation performance.

,1 , , , , = [1 , , ] and
is the k th coordinate vector. Note that
represents the system matrix connecting the time
domain CIR vector and the received pilot vector .
Therefore, the channel estimation can be considered as
the recovery of the CIR vector, , from the linear
noisy observation model in (3). Note that due to the
randomly located pilots, the matrix in (3)
corresponds to the random sensing matrix constructed
by taking randomly selected rows of the DFT matrix
via .

. Main subject
The proposed pilot allocation is depicted by Fig. 1,
where a small number of pilots are randomly located in
frequency domain. As compared to the conventional
pilot allocation where pilots are uniformly allocated, the
proposed strategy avoids uniform allocation to ensure
good performance in channel estimation.
A vector of the frequency-domain received pilot
symbols, 1 for the nth pilot-containing OFDM
symbol can be expressed as
= ( ) +

where is the N 1 vector of pilot sequence, is

the N 1 vector of the frequency-domain response of
channels at the pilot subcarriers, and is the N 1
noise vector distributed as CN(0, w 2 N ). Let the set of
pilot subcarrier indices be = {,1 , ,2 , , , } for the
nth pilot-containing OFDM symbol. Due to random
pilot allocation, the set of indices changes for each
value of n. If we denote the length- time domain CIR
as = [,1 , , , ] , the received symbol vector in
(1) can be expressed as

= ( )

= (
) +

where is

the size



matrix, =



In this section, we first describe the model for
Fig. 1 The proposed low density pilot allocation strategy in the
example of the OFDM system with N = 24 and B = 4. Each
box represents one resource element, and the number inside the
box indicates an antenna index.

channels with locally common support, and then derive

the proposed sparse channel recovery scheme. In
channel impulse responses, a small number of channel
taps tend to contain most of energy. In addition, the
delay prole of the CIR tends to remain constant for
a long period of time. To exploit such channel
characteristics, we derive the sparse channel estimation
that exploits the common support of the CIR in time.
Specifically, we collect the L(= + ) consecutive
measurement vectors { , , + } and derive greedy
sparse recovery algorithm based on the linear minimum
mean square error (MMSE) criterion. From (3), the
[+ ] can be expressed as

= + , ,

We rearrange the channel vectors + , , such
that the ith entry for each of + , , form a
new vector , . We also rearrange the columns of the
(+ , , ) accordingly.
Denoting the sensing matrix corresponding to , as
, , (4) can be rewritten by
1 ,1
= ,1 , +

where a deterministic binary vector = [1 , , ] is
defined as

Note that for the channels with locally common support,

we assume that the vector is constant over <
< + .

Now, we derive joint estimation of the binary vector

b and the CIR amplitudes {,1 , , , } from the linear
measurement model in (5). We employ the greedy
search strategy [2], which finds a position of CIR tap
with the largest energy in each step of the searching
process as

1 ||,

(1) 2


where || ||2 denotes 2 norm. Whenever the index of

the strongest CIR tap is found, we update the binary
vector band compute the LMMSE estimate of the
channel amplitudes {,1 , , , } . Note that temporal
correlations of the channel gains are incorporated into
the coefficients of the LMMSE estimate. Then, we
obtain the residual vector by subtracting the current
CIR estimate from the received vector and search for
the next strongest CIR tap. Though this process seems
similar to that of the greedy pursuit in [2], our recovery
scheme is different in that our method can exploit the
statistical temporal correlations underlying in the signal
vectors via statistical LMMSE estimation.
In this subsection, we describe the simulation setup.
Consider the OFDM system with = 2048 where
adjacent subcarriers are spaced by 15 kHz. We consider
a 128 BS antennas system as an example, which
requires huge amount of pilots for conventional pilot
allocation scheme. We use the CP length of 4.762 s,
which corresponds to an OFDM symbol duration of
71.43 s. We assume that the largest delay spread of
the CIR is 4.88 s, which yields the length of the CIR,
M = 150. For each antenna, the time interval between
adjacent pilot containing OFDM symbols is = 0.5
ms. We assume that only 10% of the CIR taps are
nonzero, which indicate that the number of the
dominant CIR taps is 15 (i.e., K = 15). We also assume
that the power is equally distributed over nonzero CIR
taps. The Doppler frequency is set to 70 Hz. Every 10
ms, we randomly change the locations of the K nonzero
CIR taps. Mean square error (MSE) performance of the
proposed scheme is compared with that of the Oracle
based channel estimator (CE) that performs channel
estimation with the perfect knowledge on the CIR


Fig. 2 The MSE performance as a function of pilot overhead

(%) for several channel estimation schemes.

support. Comparison is also made with the existing

channel estimators such as the
conventional LMMSE CE [3] and OMP based CE [4].
3-2. Simulation Results
Fig. 2 shows the MSE performances of the several
channel estimation schemes when the signal-to-noise
ratio (SNR) for each subcarrier is set to 20 dB. Our
proposed scheme can achieve 10% of pilot overhead
while providing the MSE lower than 25 dB. Note that
the performance of the proposed scheme is close to that
of the Oracle-based CE until it reaches around 10% of
pilot overhead. On the other hand, the reduction in
pilot overhead of the existing CE is much worse than
the proposed scheme at25 dB of the MSE. Fig. 2 also
shows that as more observation vectors are used (i.e.
L increases), the performance of the proposed scheme
. Conclusion
The simulation results show that the proposed
channel estimator achieves substantially low pilot
overhead for 128 antenna massive MIMO systems.
This research was supported by Basic Science
Research Program through the National Research
Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the
Ministry of Education (NRF-2014R1A1A2055805).
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