(Under Construction)

CSCI 7143-002: Wireless Sensor Networks

Fall 2006

Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado at Boulder

Abstract:  Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have become one of the hottest areas of research in computer science.  WSNs consist of many small distributed wireless computers that sense their environments and self-organize to form multi-hop wireless networks capable of relaying their data to a backbone server.  Exciting applications of WSNs have been demonstrated thus far, some of which will be studied in this course, and include a WSN to monitor wildland forest fires, a volcano WSN, a habitat monitoring application for seabirds off the coast of Maine, and an application that localizes snipers by their acoustic footprint. FireWxNet
Night view of the wildland fire where we deployed our wireless sensor network for weather monitoring.

Carl helicoptering into the fire
Helicoptering in to deploy the sensor nodes.

In this graduate seminar, we will

  • explore the state-of-the-art in WSN research by reading, presenting and discussing selected papers, and 

  • design innovative research projects in sensor networks, covering such topics as:

    • wireless duty-cycled MAC networking protocols

    • outdoor application deployments, e.g. at Niwot Ridge in the mountains west of Boulder, an airborne sensor network, a search-and-rescue WSN, etc.

    • embedded operating systems design for resource-constrained sensor nodes

    •  secure WSNs

    • and much more...
  • learn to program on sensor nodes using the MANTIS OS (http://mantis.cs.colorado.edu) and our SWARMS indoor testbed of 50+ motes

  • you will have a unique opportunity to attend the premier research conference in WSNs, namely ACM SenSys, which will be held in our own backyard of Boulder in 2006!


Deployed sensor node on the wildfire.

MANTIS sensor nodes (nymphs) with GPS.

We will study how the unique constraints of sensor networks - wireless, low power, small form factor, limited memory/CPU - affect the design of networking protocols, operating systems, applications, middleware.   We will construct real sensor networks using standard commercial sensor nodes and develop hands-on familiarity with sensor systems.  A thorough understanding of TCP/IP networking, wireless networking, and operating system concepts is a prerequisite.


Schedule & Location: TTH 2-3:15 pm, ECEE 265 (may change to ECOT 831)
Course number CSCI 7143-002, Call # 85084.  See also the CS Web site and select Courses.
Prerequisites: Graduate standing, and strong understanding of TCP/IP and wireless networking.  Interested undergrads should contact the instructor.
Instructor:   Professor Rick Han, http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~rhan
Office: ECCR 1B05F
Office Hours:   Monday 11-12 noon, Wednesday 2-3 pm, in ECCR 1B06 - note that this is different (and across the hallway) from my office
Email: rhan@cs.colorado.edu
Phone:   303-492-0914
Readings selected papers, TBD.
Class Web site: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~rhan/CSCI_7143_001_Fall_2006/home.htm


Students will be asked to:

25% Final project presentation to class
25% Final project report
20% Class presentation of papers
15% Paper reviews and participation in discussion
15% Programming projects on sensors

Plagiarism policy.
Religious observances policy.
Disability policy.
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment policy.
Classroom Behavior policy.

Research Projects

Students will be asked to build/create an innovative research project for presentation at the end of the semester.  Students will form teams of 2-3 members and work on projects as a team.  Teams and projects will be decided according to the timeline below.  Read ahead to topics that you'd be interested to do a project in.  A list of suggested project ideas will be available later.  Students are welcome to formulate their own project ideas.

Each team will be required to present their project to the class at the end of the course.  A final project report written in the style of a conference paper will be handed in following the presentation.  If the final project is sufficiently innovative, and is accepted as a paper at a conference, then I'll pay for your trip to that conference (Past projects have led to publications at conferences in Monterrey, California, and Athens, Greece).

Timeline for Project Presentations:

  • September 4-26: Project teams formed and topics discussed with professor.

  • September 28: Final project proposal (abstract) due via email and approved by professor.

  • Weeks of October 2, 16 and 30, and November 13: Bi-weekly progress meetings of each group with professor.

  • December 7-14: Final project presentations. 40 minutes for each team.

  • December 18: Final project reports due.

Paper Reviews and Presentations

Students are required to read, present, and discuss graduate-level research papers throughout the semester.  An average of 2-3 papers per week will be read.  Written reviews of each paper to be discussed in class are due prior to the start of that class, and should be emailed to the instructor rhan@cs.colorado.edu.  Late reviews will not be accepted.   For each paper, students should write a review answering each of the following questions:

  1. What problems (with prior work or the lack thereof) were addressed or surveyed by the authors?

  2. What solutions were proposed or surveyed by the authors?

  3. What are the technical strengths and main contributions of the paper's proposed solutions?

  4. What are the technical weaknesses of the paper's proposed solutions?  What suggestions do you have to improve upon the paper's ideas?

Each paper to be discussed in class will be assigned to a student to present in class.  Assignments will rotate thoughout the class.  Papers will be assigned approximately one week in advance of the presentation date.  The presenter of a given paper must email their Powerpoint slides to the instructor rhan@cs.colorado.edu by midnight of the night before the presentation.  The in-class presenter of a particular paper does not have to submit written reviews for any of the papers reviewed that same day in class.  The paper schedule may vary over the course of the semester, e.g. as new papers become published at the most recent conferences.

Programming Projects

There will be one or two software programming projects in which students will build applications on actual physical sensor nodes, deployed outdoors and/or indoors.  Some examples of such projects could be:

We will likely be programming in C on MANTIS OS on TELOSB motes.  The late policy on programs is 10% off the grade if late within one day, 20% off the grade for two days late.  Programs that are submitted more than two days late will no longer be accepted.  Programs should be emailed to the instructor.  More information will be available on the Announcements web page.  


As the class progresses, announcements will be posted on the Announcements Web page of the class Web site.