First Advisor

Nirupama Bulusu

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science


Computer Science




Sensor networks, Embedded computer systems, Wireless sensor networks



Physical Description

1 online resource (xviii, 116 p.) : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.)


Sensor networks including opportunistic networks of sensor-equipped smartphones as well as networks of embedded sensors can enable a wide range of applications including environmental monitoring, smart grids, intelligent transportation, and healthcare. In most real-world applications, to meet end-user requirements, the network operator needs to define and update the sensors' tasks dynamically, such as updating the parameters for sensor data collection or updating the sensors' code. Tasking sensor networks is necessary to reduce the effort in programming sensor networks. However, it is challenging due to dynamics and scale in terms of number of nodes, number of tasks, and sensing regions of the networks. In addition, tasking sensor networks must also be efficient in terms of bandwidth, latency, energy consumption, and memory usage. This dissertation identifies and addresses the problems of scalability and efficiency in tasking sensor networks. The first challenge in tasking sensor networks is to define a mechanism that represents multiple tasks and sensor groups efficiently taking into account the heterogeneity and mobility of sensors deployed over a large geographical region. Another challenge in tasking sensor networks in general, and embedded sensor networks in particular, is to design protocols that can not only efficiently disseminate tasks but also maintain a consistent view of the task to be performed among inherently unreliable and resource-limited sensors. We believe that a scalable and efficient tasking framework can greatly benefit the development and deployment of sensor network applications. Our thesis is that decoupling the task specification from task implementation using a spatial two-dimensional (2D) representation of a tasking region such as maps enables scalable, efficient, and resource-adaptive tasking over heterogeneous mobile sensor networks. In addition, reducing overhead in detecting inconsistencies across nodes enables scalable and efficient task dissemination and maintenance. We present the design, implementation, and evaluation of Zoom, a multiresolution tasking framework that efficiently encapsulates multiple tasks and sensor groups for sensor networks deployed in a large geographical region. The key ideas in Zoom are (i) decoupling task specification and task implementation to support heterogeneity, (ii) using maps for representing spatial sensor groups and tasks to scale with the number of sensor groups and sensing regions, and (iii) using image encoding techniques to reduce the map size and provide adaptation to sensor platforms with different resource capabilities. We present the design, implementation, and evaluation of our protocol, DHV, which efficiently disseminates task content and ensures that all nodes have up-to-date task content in sensor networks. It achieves this by minimizing both the redundant information in each message and the number of transmitted messages in the networks. DHV has been included in the official distribution of TinyOS, a popular operating system for embedded sensor networks. As sensor networks continue to develop, they will evolve from dedicated and single-purpose systems to open and multi-purpose large scale systems. Nodes in the network will be retasked frequently to support multiple applications and multiple users. We believe that this work is an important step in enabling seamless interaction between users and sensor networks and to make sensor networks more widely adopted.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Computer Science

Persistent Identifier