Collision-minimizing CSMA and its applications to wireless sensor networks

Y. C. Tay, Kyle Jamieson, Hari Balakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Recent research in sensor networks, wireless location systems, and power-saving in ad hoc networks suggests that some applications' wireless traffic be modeled as an event-driven workload: a workload where many nodes send traffic at the time of an event, not all reports of the event are needed by higher level protocols and applications, and events occur infrequently relative to the time needed to deliver all required event reports. We identify several applications that motivate the event-driven workload and propose a protocol that is optimal for this workload. Our proposed protocol, named CSMA/p*, is nonpersistent carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) with a carefully chosen nonuniform probability distribution p* that nodes use to randomly select contention slots. We show that CSMA/p* is optimal in the sense that p* is the unique probability distribution that minimizes collisions between contending stations. CSMA/p* has knowledge of N. We conclude with an exploration of how p* could be used to build a more practical medium access control protocol via a probability distribution with no knowledge of N that approximates p*.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1048-1057
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Carrier sense multiple access (CSMA)
  • Medium access control (MAC)
  • Nonpersistent
  • Performance
  • Poisson process
  • Sensor networks


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