Decentralized Network-level Synchronization in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Spyros Voulgaris, Matthew Dobson, Maarten van Steen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Energy is the scarcest resource in ad hoc wireless networks, particularly in wireless sensor networks requiring a long lifetime. Intermittently switching the radio on and off is widely adopted as the most effective way to keep energy consumption low. This, however, prevents the very goal of communication, unless nodes switch their radios on at synchronized intervals—a rather nontrivial coordination task. In this article, we address the problem of synchronizing node radios to a single universal schedule in wireless mobile ad hoc networks that can potentially consist of thousands of nodes. More specifically, we are interested in operating the network with duty cycles that can be less than 1% of the total cycle time. We identify the fundamental issues that govern cluster merging and provide a detailed comparison of various policies using extensive simulations based on a variety of mobility patterns. We propose a specific scheme that allows a 4,000-node network to stay synchronized with a duty cycle of approximately 0.7%. Our work is based on an existing, experimental MAC protocol that we use for real-world applications and is validated in a real network of around 120 mobile nodes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5
Number of pages42
JournalACM transactions on sensor networks
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Wireless mesh networks
  • Mobile networks
  • Mobile ad hoc networks
  • Self-organizing autonomic computing
  • 2023 OA procedure


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