An Overview of a Class of Clock Synchronization Algorithms for Wireless Sensor Networks: A Statistical Signal Processing Perspective
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2015 by the authors. Recently, wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have drawn great interest due to their outstanding monitoring and management potential in medical, environmental and industrial applications. Most of the applications that employ WSNs demand all of the sensor nodes to run on a common time scale, a requirement that highlights the importance of clock synchronization. The clock synchronization problem in WSNs is inherently related to parameter estimation. The accuracy of clock synchronization algorithms depends essentially on the statistical properties of the parameter estimation algorithms. Recently, studies dedicated to the estimation of synchronization parameters, such as clock offset and skew, have begun to emerge in the literature. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art clock synchronization algorithms for WSNs from a statistical signal processing point of view. This article focuses on describing the key features of the class of clock synchronization algorithms that exploit the traditional two-way message (signal) exchange mechanism. Upon introducing the two-way message exchange mechanism, the main clock offset estimation algorithms for pairwise synchronization of sensor nodes are first reviewed, and their performance is compared. The class of fully-distributed clock offset estimation algorithms for network-wide synchronization is then surveyed. The paper concludes with a list of open research problems pertaining to clock synchronization of WSNs.