To support the fast growth of IoT and cyber physical systems, as well as the advent of 6G, there is a need for communication and networking models that enable more efficient modes for machine-type communications. This calls for a departure from the assumptions of classical communication theoretic problem formulations as well as the traditional network layers. This new communication paradigm is referred to as goal or task oriented communication, or in a broader sense, is part of the emerging area of semantic communications. Over the past decade, there have been a number of approaches towards novel performance metrics, starting from measures of timeliness such as the Age of Information (AoI), Query Age of Information (QAoI), to those that capture goal oriented nature, tracking or control performance such as Quality of Information (QoI), Value of Information (VoI) and Age of Incorrect Information (AoII), moving toward to more sophisticated end-to-end distortion metrics (e.g. MSE), ML performance, or human perception of the reproduced data, and the application of finite-blocklength information theory in the context of the remote monitoring of stochastic processes, and real-time control. We invite original papers that contribute to the fundamentals, as well as the applications of semantic metrics, and protocols that use them, in IoT or automation scenarios.

To support the fast growth of IoT and cyber physical systems, as well as the advent of 6G, there is a need for communication and networking models that enable more efficient modes for machine-type communications. This calls for a departure from the assumptions of classical communication theoretic problem formulations as well as the traditional network layers. This new paradigm is referred to as goal or task-oriented communication, and is relevant also in part of the emerging area of semantic communications.

In this paper, we consider a remote inference system, where a neural network is used to infer a time-varying target (e.g., robot movement), based on features (e.g., video clips) that are progressively received from a sensing node (e.g., a camera). Each feature is a temporal sequence of sensory data. The inference error is determined by (i) the timeliness and (ii) the sequence length of the feature, where we use Age of Information (AoI) as a metric for timeliness. While a longer feature can typically provide better inference performance, it often requires more channel resources for sending the feature. To minimize the time-averaged inference error, we study a learning and communication co-design problem that jointly optimizes feature length selection and transmission scheduling. When there is a single sensor-predictor pair and a single channel, we develop low-complexity optimal co-designs for both the cases of time-invariant and time-variant feature length. When there are multiple sensor-predictor pairs and multiple channels, the co-design problem becomes a restless multi-arm multi-action bandit problem that is PSPACE-hard. For this setting, we design a low-complexity algorithm to solve the problem. Trace-driven evaluations demonstrate the potential of these co-designs to reduce inference error by up to 10000 times.

Finding an optimal/near-optimal scheduling algorithm to minimize the age of information (AoI) in a multi-source G/G/1 system is well-known to be a hard problem, more so if there is a transmission (energy) cost. In this paper, we consider a multi-source G/G/1 system and the goal is to minimize a weighted sum of the AoI of all sources, subject to an energy cost constraint. We propose a novel doubly randomized non-preemptive scheduling algorithm and show that in the non-preemptive setting, where an update under transmission cannot be preempted, the competitive ratio of the proposed algorithm is at most 3 plus the maximum of the ratio of the variance and the mean of the update inter-generation time distribution of sources. Notably, the competitive ratio is independent of the number of sources, or their service time distributions, and is at most 4 for several common update inter-generation time distributions such as exponential, uniform and Rayleigh. For preemptive setting, where an update under transmission can be preempted, we consider a multi-source G/M/1 system and show that the proposed non-preemptive algorithm has competitive ratio at most 5 plus the maximum of the ratio of the variance and the mean of the update inter-generation time distribution of sources.

We consider a node where packets of fixed size (inbits) are generated at arbitrary intervals. The node is required to maintain the peak age of information (AoI) at the monitor below a threshold by transmitting potentially a subset of the generated packets. At any time, depending on the packet availability and the current AoI, the node can choose which packet to transmit, and at what transmission speed (in bits per second). Power consumption is a monotonically increasing convex function of the transmission speed. In this paper, for any given time horizon, the objective is to find a causal policy that minimizes the total energy consumption while satisfying the peak AoI constraint. We consider competitive ratio as the performance metric, that is defined as the ratio of the expected cost of a causal policy, and the expected cost of an optimal offline policy that knows the input (packet generation times) in advance. We first derive a lower bound on the competitive ratio of all causal policies, in terms of the system parameters (such as power function, packet size and peak AoI threshold), and then propose a particular policy for which we show that its competitive ratio has similar order of dependence on the system parameters as the derived lower bound.

This paper contributes tail bounds of the age-of-information of a general class of parallel systems and explores their potential. Parallel systems arise in relevant cases, such as in multi-band mobile networks, multi-technology wireless access, or multi-path protocols, just to name a few. Typically, control over each communication channel is limited and random service outages and congestion cause buffering that impairs the age-of-information. The parallel use of independent channels promises a remedy, since outages on one channel may be compensated for by another. Surprisingly, for the well-known case of $\text{M}\mid \text{M}\mid 1$ queues we find the opposite: pooling capacity in one channel performs better than a parallel system with the same total capacity. A generalization is not possible since there are no solutions for other types of parallel queues at hand. In this work, we prove a dual representation of age-of-information in min-plus algebra that connects to queueing models known from the theory of effective bandwidth/capacity and the stochastic network calculus. Exploiting these methods, we derive tail bounds of the age-of-information of $\text{G}\mid \text{G}\mid 1$ queues. Tail bounds of the age-of-information of independent parallel queues follow readily. In addition to parallel classical queues, we investigate Markov channels where, depending on the memory of the channel, we show the true advantage of parallel systems. We continue to investigate this new finding and provide insight into when capacity should be pooled in one channel or when independent parallel channels perform better. We complement our analysis with simulation results and evaluate different update policies, scheduling policies, and the use of heterogeneous channels that is most relevant for latest multi-band networks.

We consider a multi-process remote estimation system observing $K$ independent Ornstein-Uhlenbeck processes. In this system, a shared sensor samples the $K$ processes in such a way that the long-term average sum mean square error (MSE) is minimized using signal-independent sampling policies, in which sampling instances are chosen independently from the processes’ values. The sensor operates under a total sampling frequency constraint $f_{\max }$ . The samples from all processes consume random processing delays in a shared queue and then are transmitted over an erasure channel with probability $\epsilon $ . We study two variants of the problem: first, when the samples are scheduled according to a Maximum-Age-First (MAF) policy, and the receiver provides an erasure status feedback; and second, when samples are scheduled according to a Round-Robin (RR) policy, when there is no erasure status feedback from the receiver. Aided by optimal structural results, we show that the optimal sampling policy for both settings, under some conditions, is a threshold policy. We characterize the optimal threshold and the corresponding optimal long-term average sum MSE as a function of $K$ , $f_{\max }$ , $\epsilon $ , and the statistical properties of the observed processes. Our results show that, with an exponentially distributed service rate, the optimal threshold $\tau ^{\ast}$ increases as the number of processes $K$ increases, for both settings. Additionally, we show that the optimal threshold is an increasing function of $\epsilon $ in the case of available erasure status feedback, while it exhibits the opposite behavior, i.e., $\tau ^{\ast}$ is a decreasing function of $\epsilon $ , in the case of absent erasure status feedback.

Intelligent real-time applications, such as video surveillance, demand intensive computation to extract status information from raw sensing data. This poses a substantial challenge in orchestrating computation and communication resources to provide fresh status information. In this paper, we consider a scenario where multiple energy-constrained devices served by an edge server. To extract status information, each device can either do the computation locally or offload it to the edge server. A scheduling policy is needed to determine when and where to compute for each device, taking into account communication and computation capabilities, as well as task-specific timeliness requirements. To that end, we first model the timeliness requirements as general penalty functions of Age of Information (AoI). A convex optimization problem is formulated to provide a lower bound of the minimum AoI penalty given system parameters. Using KKT conditions, we proposed a novel scheduling policy which evaluates status update priorities based on communication and computation delays and task-specific timeliness requirements. The proposed policy is applied to an object tracking application and carried out on a large video dataset. Simulation results show that our policy improves tracking accuracy compared with scheduling policies based on video content information.

We study a system in which two-state Markov sources send status updates to a common receiver over a slotted ALOHA random access channel. We characterize the performance of the system in terms of state estimation entropy (SEE), which measures the uncertainty at the receiver about the sources’ state. Two channel access strategies are considered: a reactive policy that depends on the source behaviour and a random one that is independent of it. We prove that the considered policies can be studied using two different hidden Markov models and show through a density evolution analysis that the reactive strategy outperforms the random one in terms of SEE while the opposite is true for age of information. Furthermore, we characterize the probability of error in the state estimation at the receiver, considering a maximum a posteriori and a low-complexity (decode & hold) estimator. Our study provides useful insights on the design trade-offs that emerge when different performance metrics are adopted. Moreover, we show how the source statistics significantly impact the system performance.

In this paper, we study a multi-agent game between $N$ agents, which solve a consensus problem, and receive state information through a wireless network, that is controlled by a Base station (BS). Due to a hard-bandwidth constraint, the BS can concurrently connect at most $R_{d} < N$ agents over the network. This causes an intermittency in the agents’ state information, necessitating state estimation based on each agent’s information history. Under standard assumptions on the information structure, we separate each agent’s estimation and control problems. The BS aims to find the optimum scheduling policy that minimizes a weighted age of information based performance metric, subject to the hard-bandwidth constraint. We first relax the hard constraint to a soft update-rate constraint and compute an optimal policy for the relaxed problem by reformulating it into an MDP. This then inspires a sub-optimal policy for the bandwidth constrained problem, which is shown to approach the optimal policy as $N \rightarrow \infty $ . Next, we solve the consensus problem using the mean-field game framework. By explicitly constructing the mean-field system, we prove the existence of a unique mean-field equilibrium. Consequently, we show that the equilibrium policies obtained constitute an $\epsilon $ –Nash equilibrium for the finite-agent system.

A digital twin (DT) leverages a virtual representation of the physical world, along with communication (e.g., 6G), computing (e.g., edge computing), and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to enable many connected intelligence services. In order to handle the large amounts of network data based on digital twins (DTs), wireless systems can exploit the paradigm of semantic communication (SC) for facilitating informed decision-making under strict communication constraints by utilizing AI techniques such as causal reasoning. In this paper, a novel framework called causal semantic communication (CSC) is proposed for DT-based wireless systems. The CSC system is posed as an imitation learning (IL) problem, where the transmitter, with access to optimal network control policies using a DT, teaches the receiver using SC over a bandwidth-limited wireless channel how to improve its knowledge to perform optimal control actions. The causal structure in the transmitter’s data is extracted using novel approaches from the framework of deep end-to-end causal inference, thereby enabling the creation of a semantic representation that is causally invariant, which in turn helps generalize the learned knowledge of the system to new and unseen situations. The CSC decoder at the receiver is designed to extract and estimate semantic information while ensuring high semantic reliability. The receiver control policies, semantic decoder, and causal inference are formulated as a bi-level optimization problem within a variational inference framework. This problem is solved using a novel concept called network state models, inspired from world models in generative AI, that faithfully represents the environment dynamics leading to data generation. Furthermore, the proposed framework includes an analytical characterization of the performance gap that results from employing a suboptimal policy learned by the receiver that uses the transmitted semantic information to construct a model of the physical environment. The CSC system utilizes two concepts, namely the integrated information theory principle in the theory of consciousness and the abstract cell complex concept in topology, to precisely express the information content conveyed by the causal states and their relationships. Through this analysis, novel formulations of semantic information, semantic reliability, distortion, and similarity metrics are proposed, which extend beyond Shannon’s concept of uncertainty. Simulation results demonstrate that the proposed CSC system outperforms conventional wireless and state-of-the-art SC systems by achieving better semantic reliability with reduced bits and enabling better control policies over time thanks to the generative AI architecture.

In the past decade, the emergence of beyond fifth generation (B5G) wireless networks has necessitated the timely updating of system states in Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems, where Age of Information (AoI) has been a well-concentrated metric. However, the content-agnostic nature of AoI reflects its limitation of characterizing the significance of status update messages, which induces various variants for AoI including Age of Incorrect Information (AoII). AoII is a goal-oriented significance (etymological meaning of “semantics”) metric that could overcome such shortcomings, and thus analyzing AoII performance can be a potential approach of realizing semantic communications. Nevertheless, AoII analysis of practical coded status update system under finite blocklength (FBL) regime is still in its nascent stages. To the best of our knowledge, our study represents the first analysis of AoII for FBL regime. We explicitly obtain the average AoII expressions for different transmission schemes including Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ), Hybrid ARQ (HARQ), and non-ARQ transmission schemes. Moreover, we theoretically prove that non-ARQ scheme outperforms ARQ schemes in terms of AoII, and numerically compare AoII performance between non-ARQ and HARQ schemes by formulating and solving the AoII-optimal block assignment problem. Extensive simulation results show the superiority of AoII-optimal transmission schemes.

In this paper we examine the general problem of determining when to update information that can go out-of-date. Not updating frequently enough results in poor decision making based on stale information. Updating too often results in excessive update costs. We study the tradeoff between having stale information and the cost of updating that information. We use a general model, some versions of which match an idealized version of the Age of Information (AoI) model. We first present the assumptions, and a novel methodology for solving problems of this sort. Then we solve the case where the update cost is fixed and the time-value of the information is well understood. Our results provide simple and powerful insights regarding optimal update times. We further look at cases where there are delays associated with sending a request for an update and receiving the update, cases where the update source may be stale, cases where the information cannot be used during the update process, and cases where update costs can change randomly.

In this paper, we analyze status update systems modeled through the Stochastic Hybrid Systems (SHSs) tool. Contrary to previous works, we allow the system’s transition dynamics to be polynomial functions of the Age of Information (AoI). This dependence allows us to encapsulate many applications and opens the door for more sophisticated systems to be studied. However, this same dependence on the AoI engenders technical and analytical difficulties that we address in this paper. Specifically, we first showcase several characteristics of the age processes modeled through the SHSs tool. Then, we provide a framework to establish the Lagrange stability and positive recurrence of these processes. Building on this, we provide an approach to compute the $m$ -th moment of the age processes. Interestingly, this technique allows us to approximate the average age by solving a simple set of linear equations. Equipped with this approach, we also provide a sequential convex approximation method to optimize the average age by calibrating the parameters of the system. Finally, we consider an age-dependent CSMA environment where the back-off duration depends on the instantaneous age. By leveraging our analysis, we contrast its performance to the age-blind CSMA and showcase the age performance gain provided by the former.

We study a pull-based status update communication model where a source node submits update packets to a channel with random transmission delay, at times requested by a remote destination node. The objective is to minimize the average query-age-of-information (QAoI), defined as the average age-of-information (AoI) measured at query instants that occur at the destination side according to a stochastic arrival process. In reference to a push-based problem formulation defined in the literature where the source decides to update or wait at will, with the objective of minimizing the time average AoI at the destination, we name this problem the Pull-or-Wait (PoW) problem. We identify the PoW problem in the case of a single query as a stochastic shortest path (SSP) problem with uncountable state and action spaces, which has not been solved in previous literature. We derive an optimal solution for this SSP problem and use it as a building block for the solution of the PoW problem under periodic query arrivals.

We consider a semantics-aware communication system, where timeliness is the semantic measure, with a source which maintains the most current version of a file, and a network of $n$ user nodes with the goal to acquire the latest version of the file. The source gets updated with newer file versions as a point process, and forwards them to the user nodes, which further forward them to their neighbors using a memoryless gossip protocol. We study the average version age of the network in the presence of $\tilde {n}$ jammers that disrupt inter-node communications, for the connectivity-constrained ring topology and the connectivity-rich fully connected topology. For the ring topology, we construct an alternate system model of mini-rings and prove that the version age of the original model can be sandwiched between constant multiples of the version age of the alternate model. We show in a ring network that when the number of jammers scales as a fractional power of the network size, i.e., $\tilde n= cn^{\alpha }$ , the version age scales as $\sqrt {n}$ when $\alpha < {}{}\frac {1}{2}$ , and as $n^{\alpha }$ when $\alpha \geq {}{}\frac {1}{2}$ . As the version age of a ring network without any jammers scales as $\sqrt {n}$ , our result implies that the version age with gossiping is robust against up to $\sqrt {n}$ jammers in a ring network. We then study the connectivity-rich fully connected topology, where we derive a greedy approach to place $\tilde {n}$ jammers to maximize the age of the resultant network, which uses the jammers to isolate as many nodes as possible, thereby consolidating all links into a single mini-fully connected network. We show in this network that version age scales as $\log {n}$ when $\tilde {n}=cn\log {n}$ and as $n^{\alpha -1}$ , $1 < \alpha \leq 2$ when $\tilde {n}=cn^{\alpha }$ , implying that the network is robust against $n\log {n}$ jammers, since the age in a fully connected network without jammers scales as $\log {n}$ . Finally, we present simulation results to support our theoretical findings.