On feedback-based rateless codes for data collection in vehicular networks
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The ability to transfer data reliably and with low delay over an unreliable service is intrinsic to a number of emerging technologies, including digital video broadcasting, over-the-air software updates, public/private cloud storage, and, recently, wireless vehicular networks. In particular, modern vehicles incorporate tens of sensors to provide vital sensor information to electronic control units (ECUs). In the current architecture, vehicle sensors are connected to ECUs via physical wires, which increase the cost, weight and maintenance effort of the car, especially as the number of electronic components keeps increasing. To mitigate the issues with physical wires, wireless sensor networks (WSN) have been contemplated for replacing the current wires with wireless links, making modern cars cheaper, lighter, and more efficient. However, the ability to reliably communicate with the ECUs is complicated by the dynamic channel properties that the car experiences as it travels through areas with different radio interference patterns, such as urban versus highway driving, or even different road quality, which may physically perturb the wireless sensors. This thesis develops a suite of reliable and efficient communication schemes built upon feedback-based rateless codes, and with a target application of vehicular networks. In particular, we first investigate the feasibility of multi-hop networking for intra-car WSN, and illustrate the potential gains of using the Collection Tree Protocol (CTP), the current state of the art in multi-hop data aggregation. Our results demonstrate, for example, that the packet delivery rate of a node using a single-hop topology protocol can be below 80% in practical scenarios, whereas CTP improves reliability performance beyond 95% across all nodes while simultaneously reducing radio energy consumption. Next, in order to migrate from a wired intra-car network to a wireless system, we consider an intermediate step to deploy a hybrid communication structure, wherein wired and wireless networks coexist. Towards this goal, we design a hybrid link scheduling algorithm that guarantees reliability and robustness under harsh vehicular environments. We further enhance the hybrid link scheduler with the rateless codes such that information leakage to an eavesdropper is almost zero for finite block lengths. In addition to reliability, one key requirement for coded communication schemes is to achieve a fast decoding rate. This feature is vital in a wide spectrum of communication systems, including multimedia and streaming applications (possibly inside vehicles) with real-time playback requirements, and delay-sensitive services, where the receiver needs to recover some data symbols before the recovery of entire frame. To address this issue, we develop feedback-based rateless codes with dynamically-adjusted nonuniform symbol selection distributions. Our simulation results, backed by analysis, show that feedback information paired with a nonuniform distribution significantly improves the decoding rate compared with the state of the art algorithms. We further demonstrate that amount of feedback sent can be tuned to the specific transmission properties of a given feedback channel.