The synchronous flashing of fireflies is a spectacular example for self-organization in nature: Thousands of fireflies gather in trees and flash in unison using a distributed mechanism that can be understood using the theory of coupled oscillators. This theory has been used successfully for modeling many synchronized and coordinated phenomena, such as sleep cycles, the firing of neurons, and the vibration of bridges.
Our researchers aim at advancing this field of science and transferring it to technological applications, in particular to wireless communication networks. “Synchronization is an important building block in large networks of embedded systems,” says Christian Bettstetter. “Synchrony should emerge in a distributed manner without having to rely on central entities.” The team has developed a solution that seems to work well in wireless systems. It is now being implemented in a programmable hardware platform for field tests. Johannes Klinglmayr is already very excited about the outcome. “Let’s see whether measurements in a real-world environment will confirm our promising simulation results.”
Lakeside Labs also investigates the robustness aspects of self-organization against faulty devices. What happens if one or more devices malfunction in some way? The idea is to use an approach from neuroscience and combine it with the results already produced. “We have mathematically proven that the resulting algorithm converges,” Klinglmayr concludes.
Heterogeneity in Self-Organizing Network Synchronization