An unequal cluster-based routing protocol in wireless sensor networks

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Clustering provides an effective method for prolonging the lifetime of a wireless sensor network. Current clustering algorithms usually utilize two techniques; selecting cluster heads with more residual energy, and rotating cluster heads periodically to distribute the energy consumption among nodes in each cluster and extend the network lifetime. However, they rarely consider the hot spot problem in multihop sensor networks. When cluster heads cooperate with each other to forward their data to the base station, the cluster heads closer to the base station are burdened with heavier relay traffic and tend to die much faster, leaving areas of the network uncovered and causing network partitions. To mitigate the hot spot problem, we propose an Unequal Cluster-based Routing (UCR) protocol. It groups the nodes into clusters of unequal sizes. Cluster heads closer to the base station have smaller cluster sizes than those farther from the base station, thus they can preserve some energy for the inter-cluster data forwarding. A greedy geographic and energy-aware routing protocol is designed for the inter-cluster communication, which considers the tradeoff between the energy cost of relay paths and the residual energy of relay nodes. Simulation results show that UCR mitigates the hot spot problem and achieves an obvious improvement on the network lifetime.

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