Sensor Networks

Professor: Katia Obraczka
Office: E2 323
Office Hours: TBD and by appointment

TA: Bruno Nunes

Location: JBE 156 and Lockheed-Martin
Time: MW 5:00-6:45 pm

Course Description

The focus of this class is on the networking aspects of wireless sensor networks, including: protocols at the various layers and how they answer the specific requirements posed by these networks (e.g., data driven, energy efficient, etc.) and their applications (monitoring, tracking, etc.). Explore how physical layer and hardware issues may influence protocol design. This year we will also cover some recent topics in novel networking architectures and technologies.

Course Goals

This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to sensor networks, including the understanding of their unique characteristics and research challenges. It will focus on the communication and computation challenges raised by sensor networks; to this end, it will cover protocols at the various layers and how they answer the specific requirements posed by these networks which are typically data driven, energy constrained, emergency response, surveillance, etc.) and their applications (monitoring, tracking, etc).

The course will survey the state-of-the-art on sensor networks research through a reading list consisting of technical papers on the various topics covered in the class. A very important goal of the class is to train students to read research papers with a critical perspective.

IMPORTANT info about Class Projects: There will be a significant project component to the class. The project can be either simulation-based or implementation-based, e.g., using TinyOS 2. Although we do not assume student familiarity with TinyOS (or TinyOS 2), it is assumed that students are profficient C  programmers. More details soon.

NEW IN FALL 2011: We will also cover topics related to novel architectures and technologies. These topics will likely be covered in the second half of the course.

Course Prerequisites

Pre-requisite: CMPE 252A
Recommended: CMPE 257


The bulk of the readings for this class will be based on recent technical papers on the topics we will cover. The books listed below can be used as references.

  • "Wireless Sensor Networks: An Information Processing Approach", Zhao and Guibas
  • "Networking Wireless Sensors", B. Krishnamachari
  • "Principles of Embedded Networked Systems Design", Pottie and Kaiser
  • "Wireless Sensor Networks, Principles and Practice", Hu and Cao


Class attendance is mandatory. Because this is a graduate class, students are expected to participate actively in class, and that's hard to do if you're not actually there. Students cannot pass if they miss too many classes. If you need to miss a class for a good reason, such as a conference or other research-oriented commitment, please inform the instructor.

Student Responsibilities

Students enrolled in this class are agreeing to the following:

  • All work turned in as reports, projects, and exams MUST be individual. If any work claimed by a student to be his/her own is found to be shared with other students, that will be considered a violation of academic integrity and will be handled accordingly. Academic integrity violations will NOT be tolerated.
  • Students are responsible for reading the papers that will be covered in a specific lecture BEFORE the lecture. All papers must be read in detail even though not all details will be covered in class.
  • Students are also responsible for checking the class Web page frequently for updates, schedule changes, etc.
  • Much of the course material, including assignments and lecture notes, will be posted on the class Web page. However, you're responsible for all material covered in class, whether or not it appeared on the Web site.
  • The course pre-requisite is CMPE 252A or equivalent. CMPE 257 (or equivalent) is recommended. If a student has not taken CMPE 257 (or equivalent), it is the student's responsibility to acquire the corresponding background material.
  • Programming profficiency is assumed for students to be able to complete the class project.

Academic Honesty and Integrity

In this course students are encouraged to get involved in discussions about the class material in- and outside class. However, all work submitted for the class is to be done individually. Some examples of what is NOT allowed by the conduct code include: copying all or part of someone else's work (by hand or by looking at others' files, either secretly or if shown), and submitting it as your own; giving another student in the class a copy of your assignment solution; consulting with another student during an exam, etc. If you have questions about what is allowed, please discuss it with the instructor.

Students should be familiar with the University Academic Intergity Policies, violations of which will not be tolerated. Students who violate University standards of academic integrity are subject to disciplinary sanctions, including failure in the course accompanied by a report which will be part of the student's file, and suspension from the University.

If you have questions or doubts about the UCSC Academic Integrity policies, please see the instructor.


  • Reading assignments
  • Class Participation
  • In-class Presentations¬†
  • Project
  • Exam

Reading Assignments

Each student is expected to write a summary of each paper before it is covered in class. Summaries are due before the start of the class when the paper will be covered. Summarues are to be submitted as a e-mail attachment (plain text or pdf) to

The summary of each paper should include brief answers to the following: what is the problem the authors are trying to solve? why is the problem interesting, relevant, and/or important? what other approaches or solutions existed at the time that this work was done? how the proposed approach contributed to the state-of-the-art, i.e., why existing approaches were not adequate? what is the proposed approach and how does it compare to earlier approaches? what are the main strengths and weaknesses of the paper/proposed approach?

Having a copy of your reports handy in class can help guide your participation.

Instructors and Assistants