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Publication Title

Mobile Information Systems








The phenomenal advances in MEMS and nanotechnology make it feasible to build small devices, referred to as sensors that are able to sense, compute and communicate over small distances. The massive deployment of these small devices raises the fascinating question of whether or not the sensors, as a collectivity, will display emergent behavior, just as living organisms do. In this work we report on a recent effort intended to observe emerging behavior of large groups of sensor nodes, like living cells demonstrate. Imagine a massive deployment of sensors that can be in two states "red" and "blue". At deployment time individual sensors have an initial color. The goal is to obtain a uniform coloring of the deployment area. Importantly, the sensors can only talk to sensors that are one-hop away from them. The decisions to change colors are local, based on what the sensors can infer from collecting color information from their neighbors. We have performed extensive simulations involving 20,000 sensors in an area of 100 m x 100 m. Our simulation results show that the sensor network converges to a stable uniform coloring extremely fast.

Original Publication Citation

Shurkova, E., Ishak, R., Olariu, S., & Salleh, S. (2008). Emergent behavior in massively-deployed sensor networks. Mobile Information Systems, 4(4), 313-331.