On Maximizing Sensor Network Lifetime by Energy Balancing

Many physical systems, such as water/electricity distribution networks, are monitored by battery-powered Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Since battery replacement of sensor nodes is generally difficult, long-term monitoring can be only achieved if the operation of the WSN nodes contributes to a long WSN lifetime. Two prominent techniques to long WSN lifetime are i) optimal sensor activation and ii) efficient data gathering and forwarding based on compressive sensing. These techniques are feasible only if the activated sensor nodes establish a connected communication network (connectivity constraint), and satisfy a compressive sensing decoding constraint (cardinality constraint). These two constraints make the problem of maximizing network lifetime via sensor node activation and compressive sensing NP-hard. To overcome this difficulty, an alternative approach that iteratively solves energy balancing problems is proposed. However, understanding whether maximizing network lifetime and energy balancing problems are aligned objectives is a fundamental open issue. The analysis reveals that the two optimization problems give different solutions, but the difference between the lifetime achieved by the energy balancing approach and the maximum lifetime is small when the initial energy at sensor nodes is significantly larger than the energy consumed for a single transmission. The lifetime achieved by the energy balancing is asymptotically optimal, and that the achievable network lifetime is at least $50$\% of the optimum. Analysis and numerical simulations quantify the efficiency of the proposed energy balancing approach.


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