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On the Ability of Mobile Sensor Networks to Diffuse Information

Ian Downes
Omprakash Gnawali
Leonidas Guibas
17th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (CPS Week - IPSN), Porto, Portugal (2018)


We examine the ability of networks formed by mobile sensor nodes to diffuse information in the case when communication is only possible during opportunistic encounters. Our setting assumes that mobile nodes are continuously sensing the world and acquiring new information. We form an abstract model of this situation and show by theoretical analysis, simulation, and real mobility data that the diffusion of information in this setting cannot be as efficient as when we allow arbitrary contact patterns between the nodes with the same overall contact statistics. This establishes a fundamental asymptotic limitation on the information diffusion capacity of such opportunistic mobile sensor networks --- the encounter patterns arising out of physical motions in a geometric space are not ideal for information diffusion.