20 Scopus citations


Distributed node counting in wireless sensor networks can be important in various applications, such as network maintenance and information aggregation. In this paper, a distributed consensus algorithm for estimating the number of nodes in a wireless sensor network in the presence of communication noise is introduced. In networks with a fusion center, counting the number of nodes can easily be done by letting each node to transmit a fixed constant value to the fusion center. In a network without a fusion center, where nodes do not know the graph structure, estimating the number of nodes is not straightforward. The proposed algorithm is based on distributed average consensus and norm estimation. Different sources of error are explicitly discussed; the Fisher information and the distribution of the final estimate are derived. Several design parameters and how they affect the performance of the algorithm are studied, which provide guidelines toward making the estimation error smaller. Simulation results corroborating the theory are also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7784721
Pages (from-to)1175-1186
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017


  • Node counting
  • average consensus
  • communication noise
  • decentralized
  • l2 norm
  • network size
  • wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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