CS 263r. Wireless Sensor Networks

Prof. Matt Welsh
Spring 2009

Lectures (Spring 2009): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-4
Location: Maxwell Dworkin Hall, Room 221

Harvard CS263 course blog

Course Description

Instructor: Prof. Matt Welsh
Office Hours: Thursdays 10-12, Maxwell Dworkin 233

Teaching Fellow: Bor-rong Chen
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10-12, Maxwell Dworkin 238

This class surveys the emerging field of wireless sensor networks, which consist of many tiny, low-power devices equipped with sensing, computation, and wireless communication capabilities. The course will cover a broad range of topics, including operating systems, radio communication, networking protocols, time synchronization, localization, energy management, programming abstractions, mobility, and applications.

This is a research seminar course that focuses on reading and discussion of papers from the scientific literature. Students will read 2-4 papers a week and write short summaries of each paper. Two assignments will provide hands-on experience with wireless networking and sensor networks using the MoteLab testbed environment. Students will learn to program TinyOS, an embedded operating system for sensor nets, and will develop protocols and applications in this environment. Finally, students will undertake a significant research project, working in pairs or individually. At the end of the term, students will present projects in class and prepare a written project report.

The class will be based on in-class discussions of the papers driven by the students own observations and questions about the assigned reading. There will be no formal lectures. Students are expected to come to lecture each day and be prepared to discuss the reading in depth.

Grading will be based on a weighted combination of class participation, paper summaries, the final project presentation, and the project report.

This course is intended for graduate students at all levels as well as advanced undergraduates (CS161 or CS143 are required).

Assignment #1 posted -- Due March 10

Project ideas and schedule


This course will involve paper readings, a single programming assignment, and a research project. You are expected to read the papers for each lecture, and send a short summary -- several paragraphs at most -- on each paper to the course e-mail address before the lecture. (Send these as a single email with the current lecture date in the subject line, to cs263-staff@eecs.)

Finally, you will undertake a significant research project during the term. The goal is to design, implement, and evaluate a real system and write a report that could eventually lead to publication. At the end of the course we will have project presentations where each group gives a short talk on their work. You may be able to combine your project with another graduate course, subject to approval by the instructors.

Syllabus and Schedule -- Click on lecture topic for slides

Date Topic Readings Blogger
Th 1/29/09 Course Intro Intro slides here
Tu 2/3/09 Intro to sensor networks TinyOS (ASPLOS'00), Great Duck Island Matt
Th 2/5/09 Understanding low-power wireless B-MAC, Taming the underlying challenges Bor-rong
Tu 2/10/09 Medium Access Control Z-MAC, Component-based MAC architecture Neil
Th 2/12/09 Operating system designs NesC, Networking abstractions in TinyOS Oliver
Tu 2/17/09 Operating system designs t-Kernel, Pixie Atanu
Th 2/19/09 Networking Dozer, IP is Dead Robin
Tu 2/24/09 Broadcast and dissemination Trickle, RBP Daniel
Th 2/26/09 Reliable transport Flush, RCRT Subhash
Tu 3/3/09 Time sync and localization FTSP, Radio interferometric localization CK
Th 3/5/09 No class
Tu 3/10/09 Data aggregation TinyDB, Synopsis diffusion, Beyond Average Matt T.
Th 3/12/09 Storage Capsule, FlashDB Peter
Tu 3/17/09 Tracking Line in the Sand, Tracking using binary sensors Mike
Th 3/19/09 Dealing with sensor data Macroscope in the Redwoods, Volcano monitoring Kevin
Tu 3/24/09 No class - spring break
Th 3/26/09 No class - spring break
Tu 3/31/09 Programming models Tenet, Declarative sensor network Jason
Th 4/2/09 Programming models Regiment, Macrolab Robin
Tu 4/7/09 Energy management Power locks, Triage Oliver
Th 4/9/09 Mobile sensing systems CarTel, Activity classification using cell phones CK
Tu 4/14/09 Acoustic sensor networks VoxNet, Shooter Localization Mike
Th 4/16/09 Camera-based sensor networks Distributed image search, camera-based object tracking Subhash
Tu 4/21/09 Underwater sensor networks Underwater MAC, Underwater optical and acoustical sensor net Jason
Th 4/23/09 No class
Tu 4/28/09 In-class project presentations
Th 4/30/09 In-class project presentations
Mo 5/11/09 Final Project Reports Due

Other papers

These papers are provided here for your reference. Some of them will be discussed in class, but most are supplemental.

Ad hoc networking

Sensor networks general

Sensor network applications

Sensor network operating systems

Sensor networks: communications and routing

Programming abstractions

Distributed data processing

Localization and time synchronization