Programming a Sensor Network as an Amorphous Medium

Unknown author (2006-06)

In many sensor network applications, the network is deployedto approximate a physical space. The network itself is not ofinterest: rather, we are interested in measuring the propertiesof the space it fills, and of establishing control over thebehavior of that space.The spatial nature of sensor network applications meansthat many can be expressed naturally and succinctly in termsof the global behavior of an amorphous medium---a continuouscomputational material filling the space of interest. Althoughwe cannot construct such a material, we can approximateit using a sensor network.Using this amorphous medium abstraction separates sensornetwork problems into two largely independent domains.Above the abstraction barrier we are concerned with longrangecoordination and concise description of applications,while below the barrier we are concerned with fast, efficient,and robust communication between neighboring devices.We apply the amorphous medium abstraction with Proto,a high-level language for programming sensor/actuator networks.Existing applications, such as target tracking andthreat avoidance, can be expressed in only a few lines of Protocode. The applications are then compiled for execution on akernel that approximates an amorphous medium. Programswritten using our Proto implementation have been verified insimulation on over ten thousand nodes, as well as on a networkof Berkeley Motes.