One-shot capacity of discrete channels

Rui A. Costa, Michael Langberg, João Barros

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Shannon defined channel capacity as the highest rate at which there exists a sequence of codes of block length n such that the error probability goes to zero as n goes to infinity. In this definition, it is implicit that the block length, which can be viewed as the number of available channel uses, is unlimited. This is not the case when the transmission power must be concentrated on a single transmission, most notably in military scenarios with adversarial conditions or delay-tolerant networks with random short encounters. A natural question arises: how much information can we transmit in a single use of the channel? We give a precise characterization of the one-shot capacity of discrete channels, defined as the maximum number of bits that can be transmitted in a single use of a channel with an error probability that does not exceed a prescribed value. This capacity definition is shown to be useful and significantly different from the zero-error problem statement.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2010 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, ISIT 2010 - Proceedings
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, ISIT 2010 - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: 13 Jun 201018 Jun 2010

Publication series

NameIEEE International Symposium on Information Theory - Proceedings
ISSN (Print)2157-8103


Conference2010 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, ISIT 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAustin, TX


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