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Providing reliable group communication is an ever recurring topic in distributed settings. In mobile ad hoc networks, this problem is even more significant since all nodes act as peers, while it becomes more challenging due to highly dynamic and unpredictable topology changes. In order to overcome these difficulties, we deviate from the conventional point of view, i.e., we "fight fire with fire," by exploiting the nondeterministic nature of ad hoc networks. Inspired by the principles of gossip mechanisms and probabilistic quorum systems, we present in this paper PILOT (probabilistic lightweight group communication system) for ad hoc networks, a two-layer system consisting of a set of protocols for reliable multicasting and data sharing in mobile ad hoc networks. The performance of PILOT is predictable and controllable in terms of both reliability (fault tolerance) and efficiency (overhead). We present an analysis of PILOT's performance, which is used to fine-tune protocol parameters to obtain the desired trade off between reliability and efficiency. We confirm the predictability and tunability of PILOT through simulations with ns-2.
Date of Publication: April-June 2004