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Clock synchronization is a critical component in the operation of wireless sensor networks (WSNs), as it provides a common time frame to different nodes. It supports functions such as fusing voice and video data from different sensor nodes, time-based channel sharing, and coordinated sleep wake-up node scheduling mechanisms. Early studies on clock synchronization for WSNs mainly focused on protocol design. However, the clock synchronization problem is inherently related to parameter estimation, and, recently, studies on clock synchronization began to emerge by adopting a statistical signal processing framework. In this article, a survey on the latest advances in the field of clock synchronization of WSNs is provided by following a signal processing viewpoint. This article illustrates that many of the proposed clock synchronization protocols can be interpreted and their performance assessed using common statistical signal processing methods. It is also shown that advanced signal processing techniques enable the derivation of optimal clock synchronization algorithms under challenging scenarios.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2011