Towards diagnostic simulation in sensor networks

Mohammad Maifi Hasan Khan, Tarek Abdelzaher, Kamal Kant Gupta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


While deployment and practical on-site testing remains the ultimate touchstone for sensor network code, good simulation tools can help curtail in-field troubleshooting time. Unfortunately, current simulators are successful only at evaluating system performance and exposing manifestations of errors. They are not designed to diagnose the root cause of the exposed anomalous behavior. This paper presents a diagnostic simulator, implemented as an extension to TOSSIM [6]. It (i) allows the user to ask questions such as "why is (some specific) bad behavior occurring?", and (ii) conjectures on possible causes of the user-specified behavior when it is encountered during simulation. The simulator works by logging event sequences and states produced in a regular simulation run. It then uses sequence extraction, and frequent pattern analysis techniques to recognize sequences and states that are possible root causes of the user-defined undesirable behavior. To evaluate the effectiveness of the tool, we have implemented the directed diffusion protocol and used our tool during the development process. During this process the tool was able to uncover two design bugs that were not addressed in the original protocol. The manifestation of these two bugs were same but the causes of failure were completely different - one was triggered by node reboot and the other was triggered by an overflow of timestamps generated by the local clock. The case study demonstrates a success scenario for diagnostic simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDistributed Computing in Sensor Systems - 4th IEEE International Conference, DCOSS 2008, Proceedings
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2008
Event4th IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems, DCOSS 2008 - Santorini Island, Greece
Duration: Jun 11 2008Jun 14 2008

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume5067 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other4th IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems, DCOSS 2008
CitySantorini Island


  • Diagnostic simulation
  • Frequent pattern mining
  • Sensor network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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