A General Model for MAC Protocol Selection in Wireless Sensor Networks


Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have become relatively common in recent years with application scenarios ranging from low-traffic soil condition sensing to high-traffic video surveillance networks. Each of these applications has its own specific structure, goals, and requirements. Medium access control (MAC) protocols play a significant role in WSNs and should be tuned to the particular application. However, there is no general model that can aid in the selection and tuning of MAC protocols for different applications, imposing a heavy burden on the design engineers of these networks. Having a precise analytical model for each MAC protocol, on the other hand, is almost impossible. Using the intuition that protocols in the same behavioral set perform similarly, our goal in this paper is to introduce a general model that can help select the protocol(s) that satisfy given requirements from a protocol set that performs best for a given context. We define the Combined Performance Function (CPF) to demonstrate the performance of different category protocols for different contexts. Having developed the general model, we then discuss the models scalability in terms of adding new protocols, categories, requirements, and performance criteria. Considering energy consumption and delay as the initial performance criteria of the model, we focus on deriving mathematical models for them. Previous rules of thumb for selecting MAC protocols support the results extracted from CPF, providing a practical verification for our model. We further validate our models with the help of simulation studies.


Computer Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Access control; Energy utilization; Image segmentation; Medium access control; Security systems; Application scenario; General model; MAC protocol; Mathematical analysis; Medium access control protocols; Performance criterion; Performance functions; Wireless sensor networks (WSNs)

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2016 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2016