Multiple-access channels with confidential messages

Yingbin Liang, H. Vincent Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


A discrete memoryless multiple-access channel (MAC) with confidential messages is studied, where two users attempt to transmit common information to a destination and each user also has private (confidential) information intended for the destination. This channel generalizes the classical MAC model in that each user also receives channel outputs, and hence may obtain the confidential information sent by the other user from the channel output it receives. However, each user views the other user as a wiretapper or eavesdropper, and wishes to keep its confidential information as secret as possible from the other user. The level of secrecy of the confidential information is measured by the equivocation rate, i.e., the entropy rate of the confidential information conditioned on channel outputs at the wiretapper (the other user). The performance measure is the rate-equivocation tuple that includes the common rate, two private rates, and two equivocation rates as components. The set that includes all achievable rate-equivocation tuples is referred to as the capacity-equivocation region. The case of perfect secrecy is particularly of interest, in which each user's confidential information is perfectly hidden from the other user. The set that includes all achievable rates with perfect secrecy is referred to as the secrecy capacity region. For the MAC with two confidential messages, in which both users have confidential messages for the destination, inner bounds on the capacity-equivocation region, and secrecy capacity region are obtained. It is demonstrated that there is a tradeoff between the two equivocation rates (secrecy levels) achieved for the two confidential messages. For the MAC with one confidential message, in which only one user (user 1) has private (confidential) information for the destination, inner and outer bounds on the capacity-equivocation region are derived. These bounds match partially, and hence the capacity-equivocation region is partially characterized. Furthermore, the outer bound provides a tight converse for the case of perfect secrecy, and hence establishes the secrecy capacity region. A class of degraded MACs with one confidential message is further studied, and the capacity-equivocation region and the secrecy capacity region are established. These results are further explored via two example channels: the binary and Gaussian MACs. For both channels, the capacity-equivocation regions and the secrecy capacity regions are obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-1002
Number of pages27
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Binary multiple-access channel (MAC)
  • Degraded channel
  • Equivocation
  • Gaussian MAC
  • Inner bound
  • Outer bound
  • Secrecy capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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