A little feedback can simplify sensor network cooperation

Anand Sarwate, Michael Gastpar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Shannon's discovery of digital communication has shaped the architecture of virtually all communication systems in use today. The digital communication paradigm is built around the notion of bits and uses careful coding to deliver bits reliably end-to-end. It has been shown that this architectural principle can lead to a very significant performance penalty in wireless sensor networks. For a limited class of network scenarios, it was shown that optimal architectures are analog in nature, simple and scalable. In this paper, we show that more generally, simple analog architectures crucially depend on feedback to the sensors. Interesting questions then concern the amount of feedback needed and the resulting trade-off with performance. This paper provides rules-of-thumb for the selection of the number of feedback bits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5555914
Pages (from-to)1159-1168
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • data fusion
  • fading
  • feedback
  • joint source-channel coding
  • sensor networks

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