DIP: Density Inference Protocol for wireless sensor networks and its application to density-unbiased statistics
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Wireless sensor networks have recently emerged as enablers of important applications such as environmental, chemical and nuclear sensing systems. Such applications have sophisticated spatial-temporal semantics that set them aside from traditional wireless networks. For example, the computation of temperature averaged over the sensor field must take into account local densities. This is crucial since otherwise the estimated average temperature can be biased by over-sampling areas where a lot more sensors exist. Thus, we envision that a fundamental service that a wireless sensor network should provide is that of estimating local densities. In this paper, we propose a lightweight probabilistic density inference protocol, we call DIP, which allows each sensor node to implicitly estimate its neighborhood size without the explicit exchange of node identifiers as in existing density discovery schemes. The theoretical basis of DIP is a probabilistic analysis which gives the relationship between the number of sensor nodes contending in the neighborhood of a node and the level of contention measured by that node. Extensive simulations confirm the premise of DIP: it can provide statistically reliable and accurate estimates of local density at a very low energy cost and constant running time. We demonstrate how applications could be built on top of our DIP-based service by computing density-unbiased statistics from estimated local densities.