Quality-of-service provisioning for dynamic heterogeneous wireless sensor networks

M. Steine

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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A Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) consists of a large collection of spatially dis- tributed autonomous devices with sensors to monitor physical or environmental conditions, such as air-pollution, temperature and traffic flow. By cooperatively processing and communicating information to central locations, appropriate ac- tions can be performed in response. WSNs perform a large variety of applications, such as the monitoring of elderly persons or conditions in a greenhouse. To correctly and efficiently perform a task, the behaviour of the WSN should be such that sufficient Quality-of-Service (QoS) is provided. QoS is defined by constraints and objectives on network quality metrics, such as a maximum end- to-end packet loss or minimum network lifetime. After defining the application we want the WSN to perform, many steps are involved in designing the WSN such that sufficient QoS is provided. First, a (heterogeneous) set of sensor nodes and protocols need to be selected. Furthermore, a suitable deployment has to be found and the network should be configured for its first use. This configuration involves setting all controllable parameters that influence its behaviour, such as selecting the neighbouring node(s) to communicate to and setting the transmission power of its radio, to ensure that the WSN provides the required QoS. Configuring the network is a complex task as the number of parameters and their possible values are large and trade-offs between multiple quality metrics exist. High transmission power may result in a low packet loss to a neighbouring node, but also in a high power consumption and low lifetime. Heterogeneity in the network causes the impact of parameters to be different between nodes, requiring parameters of nodes to be set individually. Moreover, a static configuration is typically not sufficient to make the most efficient trade-off between the quality metrics at all times in a dynamic environment. Run-time mechanisms are needed to maintain the required level of QoS under changing circumstances, such as changing external interference, mobility of nodes or fluctuating traffic load. This thesis deals with run-time reconfiguration of dynamic heterogeneous wire- less sensor networks to maintain a required QoS, given a deployed network with selected communication protocols and their controllable parameters. The main contribution of this thesis is an efficient QoS provisioning strategy. It consists of three parts: a re-active reconfiguration method, a generic distributed service to estimate network metrics and a pro-active reconfiguration method. In the re-active method, nodes collaboratively respond to discrepancies be- tween the current and required QoS. Nodes use feedback control which, at a given speed, adapts parameters of the node to continuously reduce any error between the locally estimated network QoS and QoS requirements. A dynamic predictive model is used and updated at run-time, to predict how different parameter adap- tations influence the QoS. Setting the speed of adaptation allows us to influence the trade-off between responsiveness and overhead of the approach, and to tune it to the characteristics of the application scenario. Simulations and experiments with an actual deployment show the successful integration in practical scenar- ios. Compared to existing configuration strategies, we are able to extend network lifetime significantly, while maintaining required packet delivery ratios. To solve the non-trivial problem of efficiently estimating network quality met- rics, we introduce a generic distributed service to distributively compute various network metrics. This service takes into account the possible presence of links with asymmetric quality that may vary over time, by repeated forwarding of informa- tion over multiple hops combined with explicit information validity management. The generic service is instantiated from the definition of a recursive local update function that converges to a fixed point representing the desired metric. We show the convergence and stability of various instantiations. Parameters can be set in accordance with the characteristics of the deployment and influence the trade-off between accuracy and overhead. Simulations and experiments show a significant increase in estimation accuracy, and efficiency of a protocol using the estimates, compared to today’s current approaches. This service is integrated in various protocol stacks providing different kinds of network metric estimates. The pro-active reconfiguration method reconfigures in response to predefined run-time detectable events that may cause the network QoS to change signifi- cantly. While the re-active method is generally applicable and independent of the application scenario, the, complementary, pro-active method exploits any a-priori knowledge of the application scenario to adapt more efficiently. A simple example is that as soon as a person with a body sensor node starts walking we know that several aspects, including the network topology, will change. To avoid degradation of network QoS, we pro-actively adapt parameters, in this case, for instance, the frequency of updating the set of neighbouring nodes, as soon as we observe that a person starts to walk. At design time, different modes of operation are selected to be distinguished at run-time. Analysis techniques, such as simulations, are used to determine a suitable configuration for each of these modes. At run time, the approach ensures that nodes can detect the mode in which they should operate. We describe the integration of the pro-active method for two practical monitoring applications. Simulations and experiments show the feasibility of an implementa- tion on resource constrained nodes. The pro-active reconfiguration allows for an efficient QoS provisioning in combination with the re-active approach.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Basten, A.A. (Twan), Promotor
  • Geilen, Marc C.W., Copromotor
Award date31 Oct 2013
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-3468-5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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