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In this paper, we address the problem of the estimation of a spatial field defined over a two-dimensional space with wireless sensor networks. We assume that the field is (spatially) bandlimited and that it is sampled by a set of sensors which are randomly deployed in a given geographical area. Further, we impose a total bandwidth constraint which forces the quantization error in the sensor-to-FC (Fusion Center) channels to depend on the actual number of sensors in the network. With these assumptions, we derive an analytical expression of the mean-square error (MSE) in the reconstructed random field and, on that basis, an approximate closed-form expression of the optimal sensor density which attains the best trade-off in terms of observation, sampling and quantization noises. The analysis is carried out both in Gaussian and Rayleigh-fading scenarios without transmit Channel State Information (CSI). For the latter scenario, we also derive an expression of the common and constant rate at which the observations must be quantized. Computer simulation results illustrate the dependency of the optimal operating point on the variance of the observation noise or the signal-to-noise ratio in the sensor-to-FC channels, as well as the scaling law of the reconstruction MSE (which is also derived analytically) for both scenarios.
Date of Publication: December 2011