Coalitional games with overlapping coalitions for interference management in small cell networks

Zengfeng Zhang, Lingyang Song, Zhu Han, Walid Saad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


In this paper, we study the problem of cooperative interference management in an OFDMA two-tier small cell network. In particular, we propose a novel approach for allowing the small cells to cooperate, so as to optimize their sum-rate, while cooperatively satisfying their maximum transmit power constraints. Unlike existing work which assumes that only disjoint groups of cooperative small cells can emerge, we formulate the small cells' cooperation problem as a coalition formation game with overlapping coalitions. In this game, each small cell base station can choose to participate in one or more cooperative groups (or coalitions) simultaneously, so as to optimize the tradeoff between the benefits and costs associated with cooperation. We study the properties of the proposed overlapping coalition formation game and we show that it exhibits negative externalities due to interference. Then, we propose a novel decentralized algorithm that allows the small cell base stations to interact and self-organize into a stable overlapping coalitional structure. Simulation results show that the proposed algorithm results in a notable performance advantage in terms of the total system sum-rate, relative to the noncooperative case and the classical algorithms for coalitional games with non-overlapping coalitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6783663
Pages (from-to)2659-2669
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • cooperative games
  • game theory
  • interference management
  • Small cell networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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