Computer Laboratory

Course pages 2013–14

Mobile and Sensor Systems

Principal lecturer: Dr Cecilia Mascolo
Taken by: Part II
Past exam questions
Information for supervisors (contact lecturer for access permission)

No. of lectures: 8
Suggested hours of supervisions: 2
Prerequisite courses: Operating Systems, Principles of Communications, Concurrent and Distributed Systems


This course will cover topics in the area of mobile systems and communications as well as sensor systems and networking and the mixture of the two. It aims to help students develop and understand the additional complexity introduced by mobility and by energy constraints of modern systems.


  • Wireless propagation and MAC Layer. Differences in transmission in wired and wireless medium. Introduction to MAC layer protocols of wireless and mobile systems.

  • Mobile phones architectures and communication. Introduction to existing mobile phones and operating systems for mobiles.

  • Mobile Infrastructure communication and opportunistic networking protocol. Description of common communication architectures and protocols for mobile phones and introduction to models of opportunistic networking.

  • Introduction to sensor systems architecture. sensor systems challenges and applications.

  • Sensor systems MAC layer protocols. Introduction to concepts related to duty cycling and energy preservation protocols.

  • Sensor systems routing protocols. Communication protocols, data aggregation and dissemination in sensor networks.

  • Sensor systems programming and reprogramming. Motivation of sensor reprogramming and approaches to sensor network management and update.

  • Mobile sensing and participatory sensing. Mobile sensor networks and use of mobile phones as sensors.


On completing the course, students should be able to

  • describe similarities and differences between standard distributed systems and mobile and sensor systems;

  • explain the fundamental tradeoffs related to energy limitations and communication needs in these systems;

  • argue for and against different mobile and sensor systems architectures and protocols.

Recommended reading

* Schiller, J. (2003). Mobile communications. Pearson (2nd ed.).
* Karl, H. & Willig, A. (2005). Protocols and architectures for wireless sensor networks. Wiley.
Agrawal, D. & Zheng, Q. (2006). Introduction to wireless and mobile systems. Thomson.