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Having an ID being unique within the application domain for each sensor node is the basic assumption in many WSN applications. In traditional assignments, fixed-length ID schemes, which are severely limited by scalability, flexibility and energy efficiency, are adopted. To solve these problems, we propose a novel variable-length ID scheme that allows different nodes to have different ID lengths. To realize this idea, we propose a fully localized ID assignment algorithm called emphself-organized ID assignment (SIDA). SIDA presents great potential on scalability, flexibility and energy efficiency by enabling online ID assignment and various optimizations according to different communication paradigms. Analytical and simulation results show that SIDA has a comparable static ID length while the accumulated communication overhead for multi-hop transmissions can be saved by 20%; the control overhead of the new deployment assignment can be reduced to about 30% compared with fixed-length schemes.