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International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks
Volume 1 (2005), Issue 3-4, Pages 305-327
Original Article

An Architecture for Robust Sensor Network Communications

1Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Arizona, USA
2Department of Computer Science, Purdue University, USA
3Instituto di Informatica e Telematica, CNR, Pisa, Italy

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Node clustering in sensor networks increases scalability, robustness, and energy-efficiency. In hostile environments, unexpected failures or attacks on cluster heads (through which communication takes place) may partition the network or degrade application performance. We propose REED (Robust Energy-Efficient Distributed clustering), for clustering sensors deployed in hostile environments in an interleaved manner with low complexity. Our primary objective is to construct a k-fault-tolerant (i.e., k-connected) clustered network, where k is a constant determined by the application. Fault tolerance is achieved by selecting k independent sets of cluster heads (i.e., cluster head overlays) on top of the physical network, so that each node can quickly switch to other cluster heads in case of failures. The independent cluster head overlays also give multiple vertex-disjoint routing paths for load balancing and security. Network lifetime is prolonged by selecting cluster heads with high residual energy and low communication cost, and periodically re-clustering the network. We prove that REED asymptotically achieves k-connectivity if certain conditions on node density are met. We also discuss inter-cluster routing and MAC layer considerations, and investigate REED clustering properties via extensive simulations.