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State-Centric Programming for Sensor-Actuator Network Systems
October-December 2003 (vol. 2 no. 4)
pp. 50-62
Jie Liu, Palo Alto Research Center
Maurice Chu, Palo Alto Research Center
Juan Liu, Palo Alto Research Center
James Reich, Palo Alto Research Center
Feng Zhao, Palo Alto Research Center

Networked embedded systems such as wireless sensor and actuator networks require new programming models and software tools to support rapid design and prototyping. Unlike centralized platforms, these distributed sensor/actuator network (DSAN) systems are characterized by a massive number of failure-prone nodes, limited energy and bandwidth resources, and the need to rapidly respond to all kinds of sensing events.

This article describes a state-centric, agent-based design methodology and the companion software environment PIECES, which mediate between a system developer?s mental model of physical phenomena and the distributed DSAN platforms. The authors introduce the notion of collaboration groups, which abstracts common patterns in application-specific communication and resource allocation. An application developer specifies computations as the creation, aggregation, and transformation of states, which naturally map to the vocabulary used by signal processing and control engineers. More specifically, an application program is written as algorithms for state update and retrieval, with input supplied by dynamically created collaboration groups. As a result, programs written in the state-centric framework are more invariant to changes in system configuration, making the resulting software more modular and portable across multiple platforms. While this design methodology is widely applicable to many DSAN applications, the authors use a distributed tracking application with sensor networks to demonstrate how it can raise the abstraction level for application developers.

Index Terms:
sensor networks, embedded system organization, models of collaboration, programming abstractions, object tracking applications
Citation:
Jie Liu, Maurice Chu, Juan Liu, James Reich, Feng Zhao, "State-Centric Programming for Sensor-Actuator Network Systems," IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 50-62, Oct.-Dec. 2003, doi:10.1109/MPRV.2003.1251169
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