PulseSS: A Pulse-Coupled Synchronization and Scheduling Protocol for Clustered Wireless Sensor Networks

Reinhard Gentz, Anna Scaglione, Lorenzo Ferrari, Y. W Peter Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The pulse-coupled synchronization and scheduling (PulseSS) protocol is proposed in this paper for simultaneous synchronization and scheduling of communication activities in clustered wireless sensor networks (WSNs), by emulating the emergent behavior of pulse-coupled oscillator (PCO) networks in mathematical biology. Different from existing works that address synchronization and scheduling (i.e., desynchronization) separately, PulseSS provides a coordination signaling mechanism that achieves decentralized network synchronization and time division multiple access scheduling simultaneously at different time scales for clustered WSNs. Here, we assume that the nodes are connected only locally via their respective cluster heads. Moreover, PulseSS addresses the issue of propagation delays, that may plague the accuracy of PCO synchronization in practice, by providing ways to estimate and precompensate for these values locally at the sensors (i.e., PCOs). At the same time the protocol retains the adaptivity and light-weight nature of PCO protocols both in terms of signaling and computations. Simulations of both physical and medium access control layers show a synchronization accuracy of factions of microseconds above 15 dB of signal to interference and noise ratio for a five cluster network. A hardware implementation of PulseSS using TinyOS is also provided to corroborate the real world applicability of our protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7484677
Pages (from-to)1222-1234
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Internet of Things Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Clustered networks
  • distributed time scheduling
  • medium access control
  • network synchronization
  • pulse-coupled oscillators (PCOs)
  • wireless sensor networks (WSNs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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