Author: Kfir Cohen

How to Turn an Unreliable Predictor into a Reliable Scheduler


Servicing ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) traffic typically calls for a pre-emptive allocation of resources in order to meet stringent delay constraints. A conservative static allocation of resources for URLLC may guarantee desired levels of reliability and latency, but this comes at the expense of other services, most notably enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which cannot use the resources reserved for URLLC. A dynamic allocation of resources, while potentially more efficient, is made challenging by the stochastic nature of URLLC data packet generation. A promising solution is the adoption of predictors of URLLC data packet generation. Concretely, with reference to Fig. 1, a base station can deploy a predictor of URLLC data packet generation for the following frame, so as to guide the adaptive allocation of slots for URLLC packets, leaving the other slots available for eMBB users.



URLLC traffic

A URLLC traffic must hold two restrictions:

  1. Ultra-Reliability – a portion of at least 1-α of all generated packets must be scheduled for transmission.
  2. Low-Latency – Each packet should have a unique schedule resource, no later than a predefined acceptable latency.

Fig 1 (a) URLLC traffic ground true generation patterns; (b) using a predictor that underestimates the traffic dynamics leads to unreliable URLLC allocation. CP-based is able to compensate successfully; (c) using a predictor that overestimates the traffic dynamics leads to overreliable URLLC allocation, i.e., low eMBB efficiency. CP-based is able to compensate successfully this as well. 

Online Conformal Prediction

CP is a class of post-hoc calibration methods that transform standard probabilistic model into a set predictor that is guaranteed to contain the true target with probability no smaller than a predetermined coverage level [1]. Online CP alleviates the limitation of conventional CP of requiring a separate calibration data at the cost of providing time-averaged, rather than ensemble, reliability guarantees [2,3]. The adoption of CP in communication engineering was proposed in [Cohen2023ICASSP], which focused on wireless applications such as symbol demodulation, modulation classification, and received signal strength prediction.

Guaranteed Dynamic Scheduling

In our new work [4], accepted at IEEE Signal Processing Letters, we introduce a novel scheduler for URLLC packets that provides formal guarantees on reliability and latency irrespective of the quality of the URLLC traffic predictor.

Fig. 2(a) illustrates the frame-based segmentation. Fig. 2(b) shows 4 URLLC generated packets and 6 pre-emptively allocated URLLC resources, yet the latest packet is not allocated a resource within the allowed latency. In contrast, Fig. 2(c) show an allocation that meets the constraints, even though the number of URLLC resources are smaller. This leaves a better portion for eMBB traffic.

Fig. 2 (a) Frame-based timelinel; (b) miscovered allocation; (c) well-covered allocation.



The proposed method leverages recent advances in online CP, and follows the principle of dynamically adjusting the amount of allocated resources so as to meet reliability and latency requirements set by the designer. To this end, we adjust a threshold that changes between frames on the basis of a reliability condition, that controls how conservative the predictor of the next frame is.



We consider two mismatched predictors: the first underestimates the dynamic of changes the URLLC traffic, while the second overestimates.


Fig. 3 investigates of the impact of such mismatches between URLLC model parameter and ground-truth model parameter. For some parameters values of mismatch, the conventional scheduler does not hold reliability to the desired level, while for the other it may result in over reliability. The conventional scheduler is significantly affected by a mismatch between predictor and ground-truth packet generation mechanism, yielding either ill empirical coverage (below 1-α) or over coverage. In contrast, the CP-based predictor is able to flatten the coverage to asymptotically reach the long-term target 1-α.



Fig. 3 Empirical URLLC reliability rate and eMBB efficiency. CP-based scheduler flattens out the coverage


Full details can be found at this SPL preprint [4].


[1] Vovk, Vladimir, Alexander Gammerman, and Glenn Shafer. “Algorithmic learning in a random world,” Vol. 29. New York: Springer, 2005.

[2] Gibbs, Isaac, and Emmanuel Candes. “Adaptive conformal inference under distribution shift.” Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (2021): 1660-1672.

[3] Feldman, Shai, Stephen Bates, and Yaniv Romano. “Conformalized Online Learning: Online Calibration Without a Holdout Set.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2205.09095 (2022).

[4] Cohen, Kfir M., Sangwoo Park, Osvaldo Simeone, Petar Popovski, and Shlomo Shamai. “Guaranteed Dynamic Scheduling of Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Traffic via Conformal Prediction.” To appear in Signal Processing Letters, [online] arXiv preprint arXiv:2302.07675 (2023).

Making a Demodulator Trustworthy via Conformal Prediction


Artificial intelligence (AI) models typically report a confidence measure associated with each prediction, which reflects the model’s self evaluation of the accuracy of a decision. Notably, neural networks implement probabilistic predictors that produce a probability distribution across all possible values of the output variable. As an example, Fig. 1 illustrates the operation of a neural network-based demodulator, which outputs a probability distribution on the constellation points given the corresponding received baseband sample. The self-reported model confidence, however, may not be a reliable measure of the true, unknown, accuracy of the prediction, in which case we say that the AI model is poorly calibrated. Poor calibration may be a substantial problem when AI-based decisions are processed within a larger system such as a communication network.


Fig. 1 Accuracy and calibration are different properties of probabilistic predictiors.

Set Predictors

A set predictor is defined as a set-valued function that maps an input to a subset of the output domain based on a data set. As illustrated in the example of Fig. 1, it depends in general on an input, and can be taken as a measure of the uncertainty of the predictor. The performance of a set predictor is evaluated in terms of coverage and inefficiency. Coverage refers to the probability that the true label is included in the predicted set; while inefficiency refers to the average size of the predicted set. There is a clear a trade-off between two metrics.

Given a probabilistic predictor, one can construct a set predictor by relying on the confidence levels reported by the model. To this end, one can construct the smallest subset of the output domain that covers a fraction 1 − α of the probability designed by the trained model given an input. For poorly calibrated predictors, this approach cannot satisfy the coverage condition for the given desired miscoverage level α.


Conformal Prediction

In our new work [3], presented at ICASSP2023, we applied three different conformal prediction schemes for a demodulation problem:

  1. Validation-based (VB) [1] – which partitions the available data set into training and validation sets. Uses the first set to train a model, and the second for calibration purpose.
  2. Cross-Validation-based (CV) [2] – which trains multiple models, each using all the available data set excluding one data point, that acts as a validation example. While increasing computational complexity, in general it reduces the inefficiency of the predictive sets.
  3. K-fold CV-based (K-CV) [2] – which cross-validates using a fold rather than a single point. K different models are trained using a leave-fold-out approach. This is a generalization of CV-CP set predictors that strike a balance between complexity and inefficiency by reducing the total number of model training phases to K.



Fig. 2 shows the empirical coverage level and Fig. 3 shows the empirical inefficiency as a function of the size N of the available data set D. From Fig. 2, we first observe that the naïve set predictor, with both frequentist and Bayesian learning, does not meet the desired coverage level in the regime of a small number N of available samples. In contrast, all CP methods provide coverage guarantees, achieving coverage rates at least 1 − α. From Fig. 3, we observe that the size of the predicted sets, and hence the inefficiency, decreases as the data set size increases. Furthermore, due to their efficient use of the available data, CV and K-CV predictors have a lower inefficiency as compared to VB predictors. Finally, Bayesian NC scores are generally seen to yield set predictors with lower inefficiency, confirming the merits of Bayesian learning in terms of calibration.

Overall, the experiments confirm that all the CP-based predictors are all well-calibrated with small average set prediction size, unlike naïve set predictors that built directly on the self-reported confidence levels of conventional probabilistic predictors.

Fig. 2 Empirical coverage as function of data set size

Fig. 3 Empirical inefficiency as function of data set size



Please see preprint of the ICASSP23 paper for full details.


[1] Vovk, Vladimir, Alexander Gammerman, and Glenn Shafer. “Algorithmic learning in a random world,” Vol. 29. New York: Springer, 2005.

[2] Barber, Rina Foygel, Emmanuel J. Candes, Aaditya Ramdas, and Ryan J. Tibshirani. “Predictive inference with the jackknife+.” (2021): 486-507.

[3] Cohen, Kfir M., Park, Sangwoo,  Simeone, Osvlado, and Shamai, Shlomo (Shitz). “Calibrating AI Models for Wireless Communications via Conformal Prediction,” to appear in ICASSP 2023 [Online]. Available:


Is Accuracy Sufficient for AI in 6G? (No, Calibration is Equally Important)

AI modules are being considered as native components of future wireless communication systems that can be fine-tuned to meet the requirements of specific deployments [1]. While conventional training solutions target the accuracy as the only design criterion, the pursuit of “perfect accuracy” is generally neither a feasible nor a desirable goal. In Alan Turing’s words, “if a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent”. Rather than seeking an optimized accuracy level, a well-designed AI should be able to quantify its uncertainty: It should “know when it knows”, offering high confidence for decisions that are likely to be correct, and it should “know when it does not know”, providing a low confidence level for decisions are that are unlikely to be correct. An AI module that can provide reliable measures of uncertainty is said to be well-calibrated.

Importantly, accuracy and calibration are two distinct criteria. As an example, Fig. 1 illustrates  a QPSK demodulator trained using limited number of pilots. Depending on the input, the trained probabilistic model may result in either accurate or inaccurate demodulation decisions, whose uncertainty is either correctly or incorrectly characterized.

Fig. 1. The hard decision regions of an optimal demodulator (dashed lines) and of a data-driven demodulator trained on few pilots (solid lines) are displayed in panel (a), while the corresponding probabilistic predictions for some outputs are shown in panel (b).


The property of “knowing what the AI knows/ does not know” is very useful when the AI module is used as part of a larger engineering system. In fact, well-calibrated decisions should be treated differently depending on their confidence level. Furthermore, well-calibrated models enable monitoring – by tracking the confidence of the decisions made by an AI – and other functionalities, such as anomaly detection [2].

In a recent paper from our group published on the IEEE Transaction on Signal Processing [3], we proposed a methodology to develop well-calibrated and efficient AI modules that are capable of fast adaptation. The methodology builds on Bayesian meta-learning.

To start, we summarize the main techniques under consideration.

  1. Conventional, frequentist, learning ignores epistemic uncertainty – uncertainty caused by limited data – and tends to be overconfident in the presence of limited training samples.
  2. Bayesian learning captures epistemic uncertainty by optimizing a distribution in the model parameter space, rather than finding a single deterministic value as in frequentist learning. By obtaining decisions via ensembling, Bayesian predictors can account for the “opinions” of multiple models, hence providing more reliable decisions. Note that this approach is routinely used to quantify uncertainty in established fields like weather prediction [4].
  3. Frequentist meta-learning [5], also known as learning to learn, optimizes a shared training strategy across multiple tasks, so that it can easily adapt to new tasks. This is done by transferring knowledge from different learning tasks. As a communication system example, see Fig. 2 in which the demodulator adapts quickly with only few pilots for a new frame. While frequentist meta-learning is well-suited for adaptation purpose, its decisions tend to be overconfident, hence not improving monitoring in general.
  4. Bayesian meta-learning [6,7] integrates meta-learning with Bayesian learning in order to facilitate adaptation to new tasks for Bayesian learning.
  5. Bayesian active meta-learning [8] Active meta-learning can reduce the number of meta-training tasks. By considering streaming-fashion of availability of meta-training tasks, e.g., sequential supply of new frames from which we can online meta-learn the AI modules, we were able to effectively reduce the time required for satisfiable meta-learning via active meta-learning.


Fig. 2. Through meta-learning, a learner (e.g., demodulator) can be adapted quickly using few pilots to new environment, using hyperparameter vector optimized over related learning tasks (e.g., frames with different channel conditions).


Some Results

We first show the benefits of Bayesian meta-learning for monitoring purpose by examining the reliability of its decisions in terms of calibration. In Fig. 3, reliability diagrams for frequentist and Bayesian meta-learning are compared. For an ideal calibrated predictor, the accuracy level should match the self-reported confidence (dashed line in the plots). In can be easily checked that AI modules designed by Bayesian meta-learning (right part) are more reliable than the ones with Frequentist meta-learning (left part), validating the suitability of Bayesian meta-learning for monitoring purpose. Experimental results are obtained by considering a demodulation problem.



Fig. 3. Bayesian meta-learning (right) yields reliable decisions as compared to frequentist meta-learning (left) which can be captured via reliability diagrams [9].

Fig. 4 demonstrates the impact of Bayesian active meta-learning that successfully reduces the number of required meta-training tasks. The results are obtained by considering an equalization problem.

Fig. 4. Bayesian active meta-learning actively searches for meta-training tasks that are most surprising (left), hence increasing the task efficiency as compared to Bayesian meta-learning which randomly chooses tasks to be meta-trained.



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