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Computer Networking Research Laboratory

Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Colorado State University

Virtual-Coordinate-Based Techniques for Sensor Networks


Virtual Coordinate Systems (VCS) provide a compelling alternative for structuring/organizing Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) without the for localization information. While the virtual coordinates do not give the accurate representation of the underlying geography, they characterize nodes using connectivity-based distance. A major advantage of connectivity information based VCS over physical-position-based systems is that they completely avoid the cost, complexity, and uncertainties associated with node localization using GPS or distance estimations. It is not useful for indoor applications. The alternative is to use analog measurement methods, such as Receiver Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) or Time-of-Arrival (TOA) to estimate distances to other nodes, and thereby node positions. These analog measurements encounter uncertainties and complexities due to multipath fading, scattering, interference and poor line-of-sight which are difficult to overcome in many indoor and outdoor applications. VCS thus outcompetes geographical-location-based schemes in large WSNs by facilitating the use of nodes with simpler hardware.

We are currently working on:

  • Routing in VCs
  • Topology preserving maps
  • Anchor placement in a network
  • Topology planarization
  • Tracking in VCs

Project Team


This research is supported in part by NSF Grant CNS-0720889.


Simulators, Utilities, and Datasets


  • VCSIMTOOL - Can be used to create different topologies, generate Virtual Coordinates (VCs) using minimum hop distance and directional VCs, anchor placement, and topology preserving maps.