Networked Systems

The mathematical modeling of pulse-coupled biological oscillators offers a fully decentralized and scalable approach for time synchronization. There is a broad spectrum of work on pulse-coupled oscillators in physics, biology, neuroscience, and other disciplines. The communications engineering community has been interested to transfer these results to the synchronization of nodes in wireless networks. A one-to-one transfer is infeasible due to the differences between wireless and biological communications. Several extensions and modifications are required with respect to delays, noise, multihop communications, and sync words.

Despite the conceptional and theoretical advances in the design of pulse-coupled oscillator synchronization for wireless networks, real-world performance studies and proofs of concepts are largely missing. There only exist a few implementations on low-cost wireless sensor platforms, whose results are of interest, but their synchronization precision is limited by hardware capabilities.

Günther Brandner, a researcher in Bettstetter’s team, implemented algorithms based on pulse-coupled oscillators on FPGA-based programmable…

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