COSC418-19S2 (C) Semester Two 2019

Wireless Ad-hoc and Sensor Networks

15 points
15 Jul 2019 - 10 Nov 2019


This course will provide students with an understanding of wireless ad-hoc and sensor networks, enable them to recognise the wide range of applicability of these networks, and provide them with an understanding of the major design issues, including topics such as protocol mechanisms and resource contraints.

In this course we discuss ad hoc networks and wireless sensor networks, with focus on sensor networks. Wireless ad-hoc networks are set up dynamically, for a short time and limited purpose, and without using any fixed networking infrastructure like base stations, access points, etc. Important application areas include the provision of networking facilities to human operators in disaster areas or in areas with no infrastructure. Key design challenges include the need for self-organization and the support for mobility between the involved nodes.

Wireless sensor networks are large-scale networks of relatively small nodes, called sensor nodes. Such a node consists of some sensing circuitry (humidity, pressure, light, ...), a microcontroller, some small amount of memory, a wireless transceiver and a battery. The nodes are expected to collaborate in application tasks ranging from environmental monitoring, surveillance systems, building automation and more. Sensor networks differ from "traditional" wireless networks (ad-hoc networks or wireless LANs) in many respects, including:
•   The nodes do not belong to individual and independent users, but are expected to collaborate closely in monitoring and controlling the physical environment.
•   Sensor networks can have very large numbers of nodes, up to (tens of) thousands.
•   The sensor nodes are severely restricted in terms of memory, processing capacity and, most important, energy. Since the nodes are cheap, mostly battery-driven and there may be thousands of them, manually replacing batteries is not an option. These resource constraints call for new approaches and architectures for the design of node software and protocol stacks.

Wireless sensor networks are not only a fascinating research topic, it is expected that they also find more and more applications in the real world. The emergence of standards (and compliant commercial products) like IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, Wireless-HART etc. is a case in point.
In this course students get an introduction to the theory and practice of wireless sensor networks. The theoretical part consists of classical lectures plus own readings. A tentative list of topics covered in the lecture is:
•   Introduction to wireless ad-hoc and sensor networks
•   Network architectures
•   Single-node architectures
•   Physical layer
•   Medium access control (including IEEE 802.15.4), link layer issues
•   Routing in ad-hoc and sensor networks, topology control
•   End-to-End Quality-of-Service (QoS)

You will additionally be given scientific papers which complement or expand on the parts covered in the lecture.

In the practical part you will work on a small project involving the modeling and simulation of wireless networking protocols. We will use the OMNet++ discrete-simulation framework which uses the C++ programming language.

This course will give you an excellent preparation for own research work (honours projects, master or PhD theses) in this lively and exciting research area of wireless sensor networks!!!

Learning Outcomes

  • After attending this course, students:
  • are able to understand and explain the concept of ad-hoc and sensor networks, their applications and typical node and network architectures.
  • are able to understand and explain protocol design issues (especially energy-efficiency) and protocol designs for wireless sensor networks
  • are able to critique protocol designs in terms of their energy-efficiency
  • are able to design and implement sensor network protocols.
  • are able to set up and evaluate measurements of protocol performance in wireless sensor networks.
  • are able to read and summarize in writing recent research papers.


(COSC364 or COSC 331), ENCE260. RP: ENCE361

Recommended Preparation

Timetable 2019

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 13:00 - 15:00 Jack Erskine 241 15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Course Coordinator

Andreas Willig


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Project 45% Report due in the final week of term 4, with an in-class presentation component.
Readings of Papers 9%
Final Exam 46%


There are several important documents available online about departmental regulations, policies and guidelines at the following site. We expect all students to be familiar with these.
Notices about this class will be posted to the class forum in the Learn system.

Additional Course Outline Information

Grade moderation

The Computer Science department's grading policy states that in order to pass a course you must meet two requirements:
1. You must achieve an average grade of at least 50% over all assessment items.
2. You must achieve an average mark of at least 45% on invigilated assessment items.
If you satisfy both these criteria, your grade will be determined by the following University- wide scale for converting marks to grades: an average mark of 50% is sufficient for a C- grade, an average mark of 55% earns a C grade, 60% earns a B- grade and so forth. However if you do not satisfy both the passing criteria you will be given either a D or E grade depending on marks. Marks are sometimes scaled to achieve consistency between courses from year to year.

Students may apply for special consideration if their performance in an assessment is affected by extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Applications for special consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website within five days of the assessment.

Where an extension may be granted for an assessment, this will be decided by direct application to the Department and an application to the Examinations Office may not be required.

Special consideration is not available for items worth less than 10% of the course.

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for special consideration for late discontinuation of the course. Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,002.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering.

All COSC418 Occurrences

  • COSC418-19S2 (C) Semester Two 2019