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Sensor networks are deemed suitable for large-scale deployments in the wild for a variety of applications. In spite of the remarkable efforts the community put to build the sensor systems, an essential question still remains unclear at the system level, motivating us to explore the answer from a point of real-world deployment view. Does the wireless sensor network really scale? We present findings from a large-scale operating sensor network system, GreenOrbs, with up to 330 nodes deployed in the forest. We instrument such an operating network throughout the protocol stack and present observations across layers in the network. Based on our findings from the system measurement, we propose and make initial efforts to validate three conjectures that give potential guidelines for future designs of large-scale sensor networks. (1) A small portion of nodes bottlenecks the entire network, and most of the existing network indicators may not accurately capture them. (2) The network dynamics mainly come from the inherent concurrency of network operations instead of environment changes. (3) The environment, although the dynamics are not as significant as we assumed, has an unpredictable impact on the sensor network. We suggest that an event-based routing structure can be trained optimal and thus better adapted to the wild environment when building a large-scale sensor network.
Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:PP , Issue: 99 )