A hybrid method of CSMA/CA and TDMA for real-time data aggregation in wireless sensor networks

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-278
Journal / PublicationComputer Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


We study the real-time data aggregation in contention-based wireless sensor networks that use CSMA/CA MAC layer protocols as defined in IEEE 802.15.4 or IEEE 802.11 standard. The problem is, for a given data aggregation tree and a delay bound, to maximize the average transmission success probability of all sensor nodes within the delay bound. In CSMA/CA protocols, the success probability and the expected transmission delay are highly sensitive to node interference, while the node interference is often very high in the large scale sensor networks. We propose a hybrid method that combines the CSMA/CA protocol with TDMA scheduling of transmissions. We divide the child nodes of a parent into groups and schedule the groups into different "time-frames" for transmission. Within the group, the nodes still use the CSMA/CA protocol to compete for data transmission. By doing so, we divide a large collision domain (i.e., all child nodes competing to transmit to their parent) into several small collision domains (i.e., a group of nodes competing for transmission), and the success probability can thus be significantly improved. On the other hand, the "time-frame" used in our method is much larger than the timeslot used in pure TDMA protocols. It only requires loose synchronization of clocks, which is suitable for low-cost sensor networks. We transform our objective of maximizing the average success probability into minimizing the average node interference. We then convert our problem to the maximum weight k-cut problem, which is NP-hard. We propose two efficient heuristic algorithms to solve the problem. Simulation results have shown that our proposed method can improve the success probability significantly. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • Data aggregation, Real-time, Wireless sensor networks