Software-Defined Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces: From Theory to End-to-End Implementation

Christos Liaskos, Lefteris Mamatas, Arash Pourdamghani, Ageliki Tsioliaridou, Sotiris Ioannidis, Andreas Pitsillides, Stefan Schmid, Ian F. Akyildiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Programmable wireless environments (PWEs) utilize internetworked intelligent metasurfaces to transform wireless propagation into a software-controlled resource. In this article, the interplay is explored between the user devices, the metasurfaces, and the PWE control system from the theory to the end-to-end implementation. This article first discusses the metasurface hardware and software, covering the complete workflow from the user device initialization to its final service via the PWE. Furthermore, to be compatible with the 5G and 6G wireless systems, the software-defined networking (SDN) paradigm is extended to achieve scalable internetworking and central control in PWE deployments with multiple metasurfaces and multihop communication. Subsequently, the set of SDN foundations is exploited in order to abstract the physics behind PWEs and a theoretical framework is established to describe and manipulate them in an algorithmic form. This can lead to smart radio environments that are readily accessible from various engineering disciplines, facilitating their integration into existing networks, wireless systems, and applications. This article is concluded by outlining strategies for the optimal placement of metasurfaces within a PWE-controlled space, open challenges in PWE security, specialized SDN integration issues, and theoretical problems toward the graph-driven modeling of PWEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • 6G
  • HyperSurfaces
  • Metasurfaces
  • Optimization
  • Physics
  • Real-time systems
  • Surface waves
  • Wireless communication
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • deployment optimization
  • intelligent metasurfaces
  • internetworking
  • multihop
  • programmable wireless environments (PWEs)
  • protocol stack
  • reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs)
  • security
  • smart radio environments (SREs)
  • software-defined networking (SDN)
  • theoretical foundations.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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