Modeling and analysis of fault detection and fault tolerance in wireless sensor networks

Arslan Munir, Joseph Antoon, Ann Gordon-Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological advancements in communications and embedded systems have led to the proliferation of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) in a wide variety of application domains. These application domains include but are not limited to mission-critical (e.g., security, defense, space, satellite) or safety-related (e.g., health care, active volcano monitoring) systems. One commonality across all WSN application domains is the need to meet application requirements (e.g., lifetime, reliability). Many application domains require that sensor nodes be deployed in harsh environments, such as on the ocean floor or in an active volcano, making these nodes more prone to failures. Sensor node failures can be catastrophic for critical or safetyrelated systems. This article models and analyzes fault detection and fault tolerance in WSNs. To determine the effectiveness and accuracy of fault detection algorithms, we simulate these algorithms using ns-2. We investigate the synergy between fault detection and fault tolerance and use the fault detection algorithms' accuracies in our modeling of Fault-Tolerant (FT) WSNs.We develop Markov models for characterizingWSN reliability and Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) to facilitate WSN application-specific design. Results obtained from our FT modeling reveal that an FT WSN composed of duplex sensor nodes can result in as high as a 100% MTTF increase and approximately a 350% improvement in reliability over a Non-Fault-Tolerant (NFT) WSN. The article also highlights future research directions for the design and deployment of reliable and trustworthy WSNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Fault detection
  • Fault-tolerance
  • Markov modeling
  • Reliability
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture


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