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SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




                      Simulation Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks: A Survey

        Abdelrahman Abuarqoub, Fayez Al-Fayez, Tariq Alsboui, Mohammad Hammoudeh, Andrew Nisbet
                                 School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology
                                            Manchester Metropolitan University
                                                    Manchester, UK
                   f.a.alfayez@gmail.com{A.Abuarqoub, M.Hammoudeh, T.Alsboui, A.Nisbet}@mmu.ac.uk


 Abstract—This paper presents a survey of simulation tools            Kurkowski et al. [4]. Yet, 53% of the authors used
 and systems for wireless sensor networks. Wireless sensor            simulation in their research. Apart from the self-developed
 network modelling and simulation methodologies are                   simulators, there are a few widely used network simulators
 presented for each system alongside judgments concerning             including NS-2 [5] , OPNET [6], MATLAB [7], IFAS [8],
 their relative ease of use and accuracy. Finally, we propose
 a mixed-mode simulation methodology that integrates a
                                                                      and OMNet++ [9]. Figure 1 shows the simulator usage
 simulated environment with real wireless sensor network              following a survey of simulation based papers in
 testbed hardware in order to improve both the accuracy and           SENSORCOMM 2011 conference. Simulation of ad hoc
 scalability of results when evaluating different prototype           wireless capabilities for WSNs have been addressed by
 designs and systems.                                                 extending existing simulators, or specifically building new
                                                                      ones, such as NS-3 [10]. The latter class of simulators
    Keywords-Wireless Sensor Networks; Simulation tools;              mostly focus on protocols and algorithms for layers of the
 Survey; Testbeds; Mix-mode simulation.                               network stack, but they do not directly support WSNs.
                     I.      INTRODUCTION
      A successful large-scale Wireless Sensor Network
 (WSN) deployment necessitates that the design concepts
 are checked before they are optimised for a specific
 hardware platform. Developing, testing, and evaluating
 network protocols and supporting architectures and
 services for WSNs can be undertaken through test-beds or
 simulation. Whilst test-beds are extremely valuable,
 implementing such test-beds is not always viable because             Figure 1. Simulator usage results from a survey of simulation based
                                                                      papers in SENSORCOMM 2011.
 it is difficult to adapt a large number of nodes in order to
 study the different factors of concern. The substantial cost             Recently, several simulation tools have appeared to
 of deploying and maintaining large-scale WSNs and the                specifically address WSNs, varying from extensions of
 time needed for setting up the network for experimental              existing tools to application specific simulators. Although
 goals makes simulation invaluable in developing reliable             these tools have some collective objectives, they obviously
 and portable WSNs applications.                                      differ in design goals, architecture, and applications
      In WSNs, simulation provides a cost effective method            abstraction level. In the next section, we review some of
 of assessing the appropriateness of systems before                   the important WSNs simulation tools and explore their
 deployment. It can, for example, help assess the scalability         characteristics.
 of algorithms free of the constraints of a hardware                      The rest of the paper is organised as follows: In
 platform. Furthermore, simulators can be used to simplify            Section II, the most popular WSNs simulators are outlined
 the software development process for a particular WSN                and their strengths and weaknesses are discussed.
 application. For instance, TOSSIM [1] utilises the                   Section III, presents our views about the future of WSNs
 component based architecture of TinyOS [2] and provides              testing and evaluation methods. Section IV concludes the
 a hardware resource abstraction layer that enables the               paper.
 simulation of TinyOS applications which can then be
 ported directly to a hardware platform without further                        II.   WSNS NETWORK SIMULATION TOOLS
 modifications.
                                                                      A. SensorSim
      Simulation is hence the research tool of choice for the
 majority of the mobile ad hoc network community. An                      SensorSim [11] builds on the NS-2 simulator providing
 examination of research papers published in                          additional capabilities for modelling WSNs. The main
 SENSORCOMM 2011 [3] reveals a significant increase in                features of this platform are: power and communication
 using real testbeds compared to the study published by               protocol models; sensing channel and sensor models;
                                                                      scenario generation; and support for hybrid simulations.




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                        222
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




 The public release of the SensorSim suite of tools was               simulation of a heterogeneous collection of sensor nodes
 withdrawn due to its unfinished nature and the inability of          and a dynamic network topology. TOSSF suffers from
 authors to provide the needed level of support.                      potentially long test-debug cycles because it does not
     Georgia Tech SensorSimII [12] is written in a modular            provide a scripting framework for experimentation.
 style, where sensor nodes are organised into three                   Although it enables development of custom environmental
 components: application, network, and link. The work in              models, the absence of a scripting framework requires
 SensorSimII may be divided into two areas: the simulator             those models to be compiled into the simulation
 core and the visualisation tools. The simulator core                 framework. Given that both of these simulators are tightly
                                                                      coupled with TinyOS, they may be unsuitable for early
 essentially manages an array of independent sensor nodes
                                                                      prototyping, or developing portable WSN applications.
 throughout time. The visualisation tools provide views of
 both individual node state and communication traffic                 D. GloMoSim
 between nodes.                                                           GloMoSim [16] is a scalable simulation environment
     Both SensorSim projects are open source and free to              for wireless and wired network systems. Its parallel
 use. However, the simulators are limited in their realism            discrete-event design distinguishes it from most other
 because (apart from SensorSim's power modules) neither               sensor network simulators. Though it is a general network
 simulator considers the limited resources of sensor nodes
                                                                      simulator, GloMoSim currently supports protocols
 such as memory, and real-time computational capability.
                                                                      designed purely for wireless networks. GloMoSim is built
 Moreover, it is not always required by the WSN to validate
 the functional correctness and/or, to provide performance            using a layered approach similar to the seven layer
 guarantees. SensorSim simulates the complete WSN                     network architecture of the OSI model. It uses standard
 protocol stack, although this can be regarded as overkill            APIs between different simulation layers to allow rapid
 and adding unnecessary complexity as this is not required            integration of models developed at different layers,
 in order to simulate the expected behaviour. This makes              possibly by different users.
 the SensorSim platform complex and difficult to use.                     As in NS-2, GloMoSim uses an object-oriented
                                                                      approach, however for scalability purposes; each object is
 B. TOSSIM                                                            responsible for running one layer in the protocol stack of
     There are platforms specifically designed to simulate            every node. This design strategy helps to divide the
 WSNs, such as TOSSIM [1] which is a part of the TinyOS               overhead management of a large-scale network.
 development efforts [2]. TOSSIM is a discrete-event                  GloMoSim has been found to be effective for simulating
 simulator for TinyOS applications [13]. It aims to assist            IP networks, but it is not capable of simulating sensor
 TinyOS application development and debugging by                      networks accurately [17]. Moreover, GloMoSim does not
 compiling applications into the TOSSIM framework,                    support phenomena occurring outside of the simulation
 which runs on a PC instead of compiling them for a mote.             environment, all events must be gathered from
 Using the TOSSIM framework, programs can be directly                 neighbouring nodes in the network. Finally, GloMoSim
 targeted to motes without modification. This gives users a           stopped releasing updates in 2000 and released a
 bigger margin to debug, test, and analyse algorithms in a            commercial product called QualNet.
 controlled and repeatable environment. In TOSSIM, all
                                                                      E. Qualnet
 nodes share the exact same code image, simulated at bit
 granularity, and assuming static node connectivity is                    Qualnet is a commercial network simulator tool
 known in advance. Therefore, TOSSIM is more of a                     released by Scalable Network Technologies [18] that is
 TinyOS emulator than a general WSN simulator. It                     derived from GloMoSim. Qualnet significantly extends the
 focuses on simulating TinyOS rather than simulating the              set of models and protocols supported by GloMoSim. It
 real world. This has the advantage that the developed                also provides a comprehensive set of advanced wireless
 algorithms can be tested on a target platform. However,              modules and user-friendly tools for building scenarios and
 this may place some restrictions of the target platform on           analysing simulation results. Qualnet is a discrete-event
 the simulation. TOSSIM is not always the right simulation            simulator, as such, it is event driven and time aware. It
 solution; like any simulation, it makes several assumptions          uses a layered architecture that is run by each node. When
 about the target hardware platform, focusing on making               a protocol resides in a particular layer at one node, the
 some behaviour accurate while simplifying others [1].                packets are passed down crossing the remaining layers at
 TOSSIM can be used as a tool for absolute evaluation of              the sending node, across the network, and then up to the
 some causes of the behaviour observed in real-world                  protocol stack at the receiving node. Qualnet has a
 network deployments.                                                 modular design and an intuitive GUI that make it easy to
                                                                      use to learn and modify.
 C. TOSSF
                                                                      F. OPNET
    TOSSF [14] is a simulation framework that compiles a
 TinyOS application into the SWAN [15] simulation                         OPNET [19] is a further discrete event, object
 framework. It can be viewed as an improvement over                   oriented, general purpose network simulator. The engine
 TOSSIM with a primary focus on scalability. It allows                of OPNET is a finite state machine model in combination




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                               223
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




 with an analytical model. It uses a hierarchical model to            platforms. The next step in the development cycle
 define each characteristic of the system. The top hierarchy          following the simulation is data replay. In this model,
 level contains the network model, where the topology is              EmStar uses data collected from actual sensors in order to
 designed. The second level defines the data flow models.             run its simulation. Leading directly from this, Emstar uses
 The third level is the process editor, which handles                 the half-simulation methodology similar to SensorSim's,
 control flow models defined in the second level. Finally, a          where the software is running on a host machine and
 parameter editor is included to support the three higher             interfacing with a real physical communication channels.
 levels. The hierarchical models result in event queues for           The final step in the development cycle is deployment.
 a discrete event simulation engine and a set of entities that            EmStar combines many of the features of other WSNs
 handle the events. Each entity represents a node which               simulators. Its component based design allows for fair
 consists of a finite state machine which processes the               scalability. Moreover, each aspect of the network can be
 events during simulation.                                            logically fine-tuned due to its development cycle design.
     Unlike NS-2 and GloMoSim, OPNET supports                         Because it targets a particular platform, many protocols
 modelling sensor-specific hardware, such as physical-link            are already available to be used. At the deployment step
 transceivers and antennas. It also enables users to define           in the development cycle, only the configuration files
 custom packet formats. An attractive feature of OPNET is             have to be designed. This potentially adds constraints on
 its capability of recording a large set of user defined              the user as they must either ensure that the hardware
 results. Furthermore, the GUI (Graphical User Interface),            configuration being used matches the existing
 along with the considerable amount of documentation and              configuration file, or they must write their own files.
 study cases that come along with the license are another                 The main goal of Emstar is to reduce design
 attractive feature of the simulator. This GUI interface can          complexity, enabling work to be shared and reused, and to
 also be used to model, graph, and animate the resulting              simplify and accelerate the design of new sensor network
 output. The network operator is provided with editors that           applications. While not as efficient and fast as other
 are required to simplify the different levels of modelling.          frameworks like TOSSIM, Emstar provides a simple
 Though model parameters can be changed, the simulation               environmental model and network medium in which to
 accuracy is influenced because OPNET is not open source              design, develop and deploy heterogeneous sensor network
 software. Similar to NS-2, the object-oriented design of             applications. When used as a migration platform from
 OPNET causes scalability problems. It does not have a                code to real sensor environment, the environment model
                                                                      may be sufficient for most developers. Another drawback
 high number of protocols publicly available possibly
                                                                      of Emstar is that the simulator supports only the code for
 because of source code licensing constraints. Finally,               the types of nodes that it is designed to work with.
 OPNET is only available in commercial form.
     The second class of simulators are application-oriented          H. SENS
 simulators, including EmStar [20], SENS [21], J-Sim [22],                SENS [21] is a customisable component-based
 Shawn [23], and Dingo [24].                                          simulator for WSN applications. It consists of
 G. EmStar                                                            interchangeable and extensible components for
                                                                      applications, network communication, and the physical
     EmStar [20] is a component based, discrete-event
                                                                      environment. In SENS, each node is partitioned into four
 framework that offers a range of run-time environments,
                                                                      main components: application, simulates the software
 from pure simulation, distributed deployment on
                                                                      application of the sensor node; network, handles incoming
 iPAQs [25], to a hybrid simulation mode similar to
                                                                      and outgoing packets; physical, reads sensed information;
 SensorSim. Emstar supports the use of simulation in the
                                                                      and environment, network propagation characteristics.
 early stages of design and development by providing a
                                                                      Multiple different component implementations offer
 range of simulated sensor network components, including
                                                                      varying degrees of realism. For example, users can choose
 radios, which provide the same interfaces as actual
                                                                      between various application-specific environments with
 components. It supports hybrid mode with some actual
                                                                      different signal propagation characteristics. As in
 components and some simulated components, and full
                                                                      TOSSIM, SENS source code can be ported directly into
 native mode with no simulated components. As in
                                                                      actual sensor nodes, enabling application portability.
 TOSSIM, EmStar uses the same source code that runs at
                                                                      Moreover, it provides a power module for development of
 each of these levels to run on actual sensors. Amongst
                                                                      dependable applications.
 other simulators, such as TOSSIM, EmStar provides an
                                                                          SENS defines three network models that can be used.
 option to interface with actual hardware while running a
                                                                      The first successfully forwards packets to all neighbours,
 simulation. EmStar is compatible with two different types
                                                                      the second delivers with a chance of loss based on a fixed
 of node hardware. It can be used to develop software for
                                                                      probability, and the third considers the chance of collision
 Mica2 motes [26] and it also offers support for
                                                                      at each node. The physical component includes the non-
 developing software for iPAQ based microservers. The
                                                                      network hardware for the sensor such as the power,
 development cycle is the same for both hardware
                                                                      sensors, and actuators. At a lower level, the environment




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                 224
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




 component models the physical phenomena and the                      communicates using the same protocols that would be
 layout. The layout model includes different types of                 deployed on a physical node. Sensors are modelled using a
 surfaces, each affecting radio and sound propagation in a            pool of concurrent, communicating threads. Individual
 different way.                                                       sensors are able to: (1) Gather and process data from a
     SENS is less customisable than many other                        model environment; (2) Locate and communicate with
 simulators, providing no chance to alter the MAC                     their nearest neighbours; (3) Determine whether they are
 protocol, along with other low level network protocols.              operating correctly and act accordingly to alter the
 SENS uses one of the most sophisticated environmental                network topology in case of faulty nodes being detected.
                                                                      Nodes may be configured differently to simulate a
 models and implements the use of sensors well. However,
                                                                      heterogeneous sensor network. Dingo comes with a set of
 the only measurable phenomenon is sound.
                                                                      application level routing packages including simple multi-
 I.   J-Sim                                                           hop flooding, MuMHR [28] and LEACH [29].
     J-Sim [22] is a component-based discrete event                       Dingo features a significant improvement in the
 simulator built in Java and modelled after NS-2. The                 simulation performance by giving the option to split the
 design of this simulator aims at solving many of the                 visualisation from the simulation. It provides tools for the
 shortcomings of comparable object-oriented simulators                simulation and deployment of high-level, Python code on
 like NS-2. J-Sim uses the concept of components instead              real sensor networks. For example, Dingo-boom provides
 of the concept of having an object for each individual               a two-way interface between MoteIV's Boomerang class
 node. J-Sim uses three top level components: the target              motes and Dingo. Dingo-top is another tool which is used
 node which produces stimuli, the sensor node that reacts             to dump network topology data to a text file and generate
 to the stimuli, and the sink node which is the ultimate              a graphical representation of that topology. Furthermore,
 destination for stimuli reporting. Each component is                 Dingo has several features in the form of plugins. These
 broken into parts and modelled differently within the                can be activated/deactivated on the plugin menu.
 simulator; this eases the use of different protocols in                  As with SensorSimII, Dingo provides an extensible
 different simulation runs.                                           visualisation framework that aims at easing the life for
     J-Sim claim has several advantages over NS-2 and                 sensor network debugging, assessment, and understanding
 other simulators. First its component based architecture             of the software by visualising the sensor network
 scales better than the object oriented model used by NS-2            topology, the individual node state, and the transmission
 and other simulators. Second, J-Sim has an improved                  of the sensed data. Dingo comes with an interface
 energy model and the ability to simulate the use of                  between the simulation environment and different
 sensors for phenomena detection. Like SensorSim, there               hardware platforms, for example the Gumstix [30]
 is support for using the simulation code for real hardware           platform. Also, Dingo allows mixed-mode simulation
 sensors. However, J-Sim is comparatively complicated to              using a combination of real and simulated nodes. In
 use. While no more complicated than NS-2, the latter                 Dingo, nodes have the ability to obtain their sensed data
 simulator is more popular and accepted in the sensor                 from a database or graphical objects like maps; this
 network research community and more community                        improves the fidelity of simulations as it makes it possible
 support is available, therefore, more people are keen to             to check the simulation results against the real data.
 spend the time to learn how to use it.                                   Dingo focuses on the protocols and algorithms for
     Though it is scalable, J-Sim has a set of inefficiencies.        higher layers of network state but it does not directly
 First, there is unnecessary overhead in the                          support sensor networks at the physical layer. It has major
 intercommunication model. The second problem is                      drawbacks which limit its functionality. Most of these
 inherited by most sensor networks simulators that are built          drawbacks are due to the incomplete nature of the tool.
 on top of general purpose simulators, 802.11 is the only             These drawbacks are: (1) The lack for Media Access
 MAC protocol that can be used in J-Sim. Finally, Java is             Control or MAC layer, communications to be handled by
 possibly less efficient than many other languages.                   point-to-point systems. (2) No collision management
                                                                      procedure, partly due to the absence of the MAC layer.
 J.   Dingo
     Dingo [27] provides a workbench for prototyping                  K. NS-3
 algorithms for WSNs taking a top-down design                            NS-2 [31] is an object-oriented discrete event
 methodology. Having no target platform means the full                simulator targeted at networking research. It is an open
 functionality of a programming language can be used. This            source network simulator originally designed for wired,
 eases the design process as prototype algorithms can be              IP networks. The NS-2 simulation environment offered
 tested before optimisation for the target platform. Dingo            great flexibility in studying the characteristics of WSNs
 consists of a fixed API, with customisable internals. It has         because it includes flexible extensions for WSNs. NS-2
 a simple graphical user interface and a set of base classes,         has a number of limitations: (1) It puts some restrictions
 which are extended by the user to create simulation. Each            on the customisation of packet formats, energy models,
 simulated sensor node runs in its own thread and
                                                                      MAC protocols, and the sensing hardware models, which




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                 225
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




 limits its flexibility; (2), the lack of an application model        and follow different approaches to investigate different
 makes it ineffective in environments that require                    problems. The variety of existing simulation tools has led
 interaction between applications and the network                     to accuracy and authenticity issues that concern even the
 protocols. (3) It does not run real hardware code; (4) It            best simulators available today. Such issues also make it
 has been built by many developers and contains several               even more difficult to replicate and compare evaluation
 inherent known and unknown bugs. (5) It does not scale               results from competing simulation systems. Simulation
 well for WSNs due to its object-oriented design; (6) Using           drawbacks also include the lack of visualisation tools,
 C++ code and oTcl scripts makes it difficult to use.                 GUI's, poor documentation, absence of examples,
     To overcome the above drawbacks the improved NS-3                amongst others.
 simulator [10] was developed. NS-3 supports simulation                   To solve the dilemma of having an accurate but
 and emulation. It is totally written in C++, while users             scalable and low-cost prototyping solution, we suggest the
 can use python scripts to define simulations. Hence,                 use of mixed-mode simulation as an effective midrange
 transferring NS-2 implementation to NS-3 require manual              solution. Mixed-mode simulation is the integration of a
 intervention. Besides the scalability and performance                simulated environment and a real testbed to improve both
 improvements, simulation nodes have the ability to                   the accuracy and scalability of testing results. In other
 support multiple radio interfaces and multiple channels.             words, the mixed-mode simulation enables the simulation
 Furthermore, NS-3 supports a real-time schedule that                 of algorithms partially in software and partially in a real
 makes it possible to interact with a real systems [10]. For          hardware WSN testbed. A small number of simulation
 example, a real network device can emit and receive NS-3             tools like NS-3 and Dingo already support this mode of
 generated packets.                                                   simulation. This simulation mode allows researchers to
 L.    Shawn                                                          compare the results of running the same algorithm in both
                                                                      simulation and on physical sensor hardware; the
     Shawn is an open source discrete event simulator for             comparison allows the inclusion or the modelling of more
 WSNs. It is written in C++ and can be run in Linux/Unix              realistic conditions in the simulation environment. A
 and Windows environments. Shawn aims to simulate
                                                                      flexible mixed-mode simulator should support integration
 large- scale WSNs, where physically accurate simulations
 fail. The idea behind Shawn is to use abstract models to             of heterogeneous sensor devices. Also, the simulation-
 simulate the affects of a phenomenon rather than the                 testbed interaction remains a challenging task that needs
 phenomenon itself [23]. Users of Shawn can adapt the                 to be addressed. For instance, the authors of Dingo
 simulation to their needs by selecting the application               describe in [33] a new Python library that implements
 preferred behaviour. The authors claim that Shawn                    synchronous message-passing concurrency to improve
 provides a high abstraction level that hides a lot of the            coordination between many hosts.
 simulation details. Users are given full access to the                   Yet, the choice of a suitable simulator is a difficult
 communication graph, which allows them to                            decision. There is no 'best' simulator; each simulator has
 observe nodes and their data [23]. However, there are                specific features that work well in certain circumstances.
 some limitation in Shawn, for instance: Visualization                The selection of a simulator depends mostly on the
 output is not supported, MAC module is not extent, and               algorithmic feature to be evaluated. High level simulators
 also users need to do much programming [32].                         like NS-2 gives an estimation about the applications and
                                                                      some middleware behaviour. Mid-level simulators, e.g.
                      III.   DISCUSSION
                                                                      OMNET, provides more information about the physical
     Generally, real WSNs testbeds provide a more                     layer components that are simulated without giving too
 accurate, realistic, and replicable validation mechanism             much details. Low-level simulators provide accurate bit
 for algorithms and protocols. However, the cost of                   level estimations of the hardware as well as software
 deployment and maintenance of large-scale testbeds limits            performance.       Regardless of the simulator, any
 their applicability. Moreover, the wide variety of                   simulations will always have weaknesses either due to
 available sensor hardware can make it rather difficult to            non-realistic assumptions or modelling errors that may be
 replicate any results produced by real testbeds. Besides,            present in the algorithm itself. Therefore, developing
 in some applications, where dangerous conditions are                 formal methods, e.g. using graph theory [34], to verify the
 being studied, e.g. chemical pollution, a real testbed is an         correctness of new algorithms and protocols is also part of
 unwanted choice. Out of these restrictions came the need             the testing or evaluation research.
 for simulation as a tool for validating and testing                      Table 1 summarise and compares the reviewed
 algorithms/protocols. As shown in Section II, simulation             simulation tools.
 tools are widely available and used by WSNs researchers.
 However, most of the existing simulators are incomplete




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                226
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




                                          TABLE 1. SUMMARY ABOUT REVIEWED SIMULATION TOOLS
                                     General or
              Programming                            Open
 Simulators                    GUI    Specific                             Main Features                                  Limitations
                Language                            Source
                                     Simulator
                                                             -Power and communication protocol              -Limited in SensorSim project realism
                                                             models Sensing channel and sensor              -Consider limited resources of sensor
                                     Specifically
                                                                                                            nodes.
 SensorSim    C++             No     designed       Yes      models                                         -Simulates the complete WSN protocol
                                     for WSNs                -Scenario generation                           stack
                                                             -Support for hybrid simulations
                                                             -Can be targeted to motes without
                                                                                                            -Makes several assumptions about the
                                     Specifically            modification
                                                                                                            target hardware platform
 TOSSIM       C++             Yes    designed       Yes      -Nodes share the exact same code image
                                     for WSNs                                                               -Focusing on making some behaviour
                                                             -The developed algorithms can be tested
                                                                                                            accurate while simplifying others
                                                             on a target platform
                                     Specifically            -Primary focus on scalability
 TOSSF        C++             Yes    designed       Yes      -Support heterogeneous nodes and               -Long test-debug cycles
                                     for WSNs                dynamic topology
                                                             -Supports protocols designed purely for
                                                                                                            -Not scapable of simulating sensor
                                                             wireless networks
                                                                                                            networks accurately
 GloMoSim     C/Parsec        Yes    General        Yes      -Built using a layered approach.
                                                                                                            -does not support phenomena occurring
                                                             -Uses standard APIs between different
                                                                                                            outside of the simulation environmen
                                                             simulation layers.
                                                    Comm-    -Comprehensive set of advanced wireless
 Qualnet      C/C++           Yes    General                                                                - The annual license is expensive
                                                    ercial   modules and user-friendly tools
                                                             -Uses a hierarchical model to define each
                                                    Comm-    characteristic of the system
 OPNET        C/C++           Yes    General                                                                - scalability problems
                                                    ercial   -Capability of recording a large set of user
                                                             defined results
                                                             -Supports hybrid mode
                                                             -Provides an option to interface with
                                     Specifically
                                                             actual hardware while running a                -Supports only the code for the types of
 EmStar       C               Yes    designed       Yes
                                                             simulation                                     nodes that it is designed to work with
                                     for WSNs
                                                             -Compatible with two different types of
                                                             node hardware
                                     Specifically
                                                             -Multiple      different        component      -Less customisable
 SENS         C++             No     designed       Yes
                                                             implementations                                -Only measurable phenomenon is sound
                                     for WSNs
                                                             -Ability to simulate the use of sensors for
                                     Specifically                                                           -Comparatively complicated to use
                                                             phenomena detection
 J-Sim        Java            Yes    designed       Yes                                                     -Unnecessary    overhead     in   the
                                                             -Support for using the simulation code for
                                     for WSNs                                                               intercommunication model
                                                             real hardware sensors
                                                             -Full functionality of a programming           -Does not directly support sensor
                                     Specifically
                                                             language can be used                           networks at the physical layer
 Dingo        Python          Yes    designed       Yes
                                                             -Option to split the visualisation from the    -Incomplete nature of the tool
                                     for WSNs
                                                             simulation
                                                                                                            -    Some      restrictions   on     the
                                                             -Supports simulation and emulation
                                                                                                            customisation.
                                                             -Supports a real-time schedule
 NS-3         C++             No     General        Yes                                                     -Lack of an application model
                                                             -Ability to support multiple radio
                                                                                                            -Does not run real hardware code
                                                             interfaces and multiple channels
                                                                                                            -Does not scale well for WSNs
                                                             -Able to simulate large- scale WSNs
                                     Specifically                                                           -Does not support visualization output
                                                             -Ability of selecting the application
 Shawn        C++             No     designed       Yes                                                     -MAC module is not extent
                                                             preferred behaviour
                                     for WSNs                                                               -Lots of programing is required
                                                             -Full access to the communication graph




Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.   ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                                   227
SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications




                                                                       [11] S. Park, A. Savvides, and M.B. Srivastava, “SensorSim: a
                        IV.    CONCLUSION                                   simulation framework for sensor networks,” MSWIM '00:
                                                                            Proceedings of the 3rd ACM int. workshop on Modeling,
     This paper provides a comprehensive review of                          analysis and simulation of wireless and mobile systems, 2000.
 simulation tools that are widely used in the field of                 [12] C. Ulmer, “Wireless Sensor Probe Networks-SensorSimII,”
 WSNs. The aim is to help researchers choosing the most                     2007.
 appropriate simulation tools to evaluate their work.                  [13] xbow, “Mica Mote,” 2007.
 There are a variety of simulation tools with different                [14] L.F. Perrone and D.M. Nicol, “A Scalable Simulator For
 capabilities. However, the authors believe that they are                   TinyOS Applications,” Simulation Conference, 2002.
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 complexity. It can be easily observed that the trend in the           [20] L. Girod, et al., “Emstar: A software environment for
 WSNs field is to use mixed-mode simulation as an                           developing and deploying heterogeneous sensor-actuator
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                                                                            Environment and Network Simulator,” The 37th Annual
 evaluating many WSNs algorithms.                                           Simulation Symposium (ANSS37), 2004.
                                                                       [22] A. Sobeih, et al., “J-Sim: A Simulation Environment for
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Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012.     ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3                                                                                        228

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Simulation Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks: A Survey

  • 1. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications Simulation Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks: A Survey Abdelrahman Abuarqoub, Fayez Al-Fayez, Tariq Alsboui, Mohammad Hammoudeh, Andrew Nisbet School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester, UK f.a.alfayez@gmail.com{A.Abuarqoub, M.Hammoudeh, T.Alsboui, A.Nisbet}@mmu.ac.uk Abstract—This paper presents a survey of simulation tools Kurkowski et al. [4]. Yet, 53% of the authors used and systems for wireless sensor networks. Wireless sensor simulation in their research. Apart from the self-developed network modelling and simulation methodologies are simulators, there are a few widely used network simulators presented for each system alongside judgments concerning including NS-2 [5] , OPNET [6], MATLAB [7], IFAS [8], their relative ease of use and accuracy. Finally, we propose a mixed-mode simulation methodology that integrates a and OMNet++ [9]. Figure 1 shows the simulator usage simulated environment with real wireless sensor network following a survey of simulation based papers in testbed hardware in order to improve both the accuracy and SENSORCOMM 2011 conference. Simulation of ad hoc scalability of results when evaluating different prototype wireless capabilities for WSNs have been addressed by designs and systems. extending existing simulators, or specifically building new ones, such as NS-3 [10]. The latter class of simulators Keywords-Wireless Sensor Networks; Simulation tools; mostly focus on protocols and algorithms for layers of the Survey; Testbeds; Mix-mode simulation. network stack, but they do not directly support WSNs. I. INTRODUCTION A successful large-scale Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) deployment necessitates that the design concepts are checked before they are optimised for a specific hardware platform. Developing, testing, and evaluating network protocols and supporting architectures and services for WSNs can be undertaken through test-beds or simulation. Whilst test-beds are extremely valuable, implementing such test-beds is not always viable because Figure 1. Simulator usage results from a survey of simulation based papers in SENSORCOMM 2011. it is difficult to adapt a large number of nodes in order to study the different factors of concern. The substantial cost Recently, several simulation tools have appeared to of deploying and maintaining large-scale WSNs and the specifically address WSNs, varying from extensions of time needed for setting up the network for experimental existing tools to application specific simulators. Although goals makes simulation invaluable in developing reliable these tools have some collective objectives, they obviously and portable WSNs applications. differ in design goals, architecture, and applications In WSNs, simulation provides a cost effective method abstraction level. In the next section, we review some of of assessing the appropriateness of systems before the important WSNs simulation tools and explore their deployment. It can, for example, help assess the scalability characteristics. of algorithms free of the constraints of a hardware The rest of the paper is organised as follows: In platform. Furthermore, simulators can be used to simplify Section II, the most popular WSNs simulators are outlined the software development process for a particular WSN and their strengths and weaknesses are discussed. application. For instance, TOSSIM [1] utilises the Section III, presents our views about the future of WSNs component based architecture of TinyOS [2] and provides testing and evaluation methods. Section IV concludes the a hardware resource abstraction layer that enables the paper. simulation of TinyOS applications which can then be ported directly to a hardware platform without further II. WSNS NETWORK SIMULATION TOOLS modifications. A. SensorSim Simulation is hence the research tool of choice for the majority of the mobile ad hoc network community. An SensorSim [11] builds on the NS-2 simulator providing examination of research papers published in additional capabilities for modelling WSNs. The main SENSORCOMM 2011 [3] reveals a significant increase in features of this platform are: power and communication using real testbeds compared to the study published by protocol models; sensing channel and sensor models; scenario generation; and support for hybrid simulations. Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 222
  • 2. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications The public release of the SensorSim suite of tools was simulation of a heterogeneous collection of sensor nodes withdrawn due to its unfinished nature and the inability of and a dynamic network topology. TOSSF suffers from authors to provide the needed level of support. potentially long test-debug cycles because it does not Georgia Tech SensorSimII [12] is written in a modular provide a scripting framework for experimentation. style, where sensor nodes are organised into three Although it enables development of custom environmental components: application, network, and link. The work in models, the absence of a scripting framework requires SensorSimII may be divided into two areas: the simulator those models to be compiled into the simulation core and the visualisation tools. The simulator core framework. Given that both of these simulators are tightly coupled with TinyOS, they may be unsuitable for early essentially manages an array of independent sensor nodes prototyping, or developing portable WSN applications. throughout time. The visualisation tools provide views of both individual node state and communication traffic D. GloMoSim between nodes. GloMoSim [16] is a scalable simulation environment Both SensorSim projects are open source and free to for wireless and wired network systems. Its parallel use. However, the simulators are limited in their realism discrete-event design distinguishes it from most other because (apart from SensorSim's power modules) neither sensor network simulators. Though it is a general network simulator considers the limited resources of sensor nodes simulator, GloMoSim currently supports protocols such as memory, and real-time computational capability. designed purely for wireless networks. GloMoSim is built Moreover, it is not always required by the WSN to validate the functional correctness and/or, to provide performance using a layered approach similar to the seven layer guarantees. SensorSim simulates the complete WSN network architecture of the OSI model. It uses standard protocol stack, although this can be regarded as overkill APIs between different simulation layers to allow rapid and adding unnecessary complexity as this is not required integration of models developed at different layers, in order to simulate the expected behaviour. This makes possibly by different users. the SensorSim platform complex and difficult to use. As in NS-2, GloMoSim uses an object-oriented approach, however for scalability purposes; each object is B. TOSSIM responsible for running one layer in the protocol stack of There are platforms specifically designed to simulate every node. This design strategy helps to divide the WSNs, such as TOSSIM [1] which is a part of the TinyOS overhead management of a large-scale network. development efforts [2]. TOSSIM is a discrete-event GloMoSim has been found to be effective for simulating simulator for TinyOS applications [13]. It aims to assist IP networks, but it is not capable of simulating sensor TinyOS application development and debugging by networks accurately [17]. Moreover, GloMoSim does not compiling applications into the TOSSIM framework, support phenomena occurring outside of the simulation which runs on a PC instead of compiling them for a mote. environment, all events must be gathered from Using the TOSSIM framework, programs can be directly neighbouring nodes in the network. Finally, GloMoSim targeted to motes without modification. This gives users a stopped releasing updates in 2000 and released a bigger margin to debug, test, and analyse algorithms in a commercial product called QualNet. controlled and repeatable environment. In TOSSIM, all E. Qualnet nodes share the exact same code image, simulated at bit granularity, and assuming static node connectivity is Qualnet is a commercial network simulator tool known in advance. Therefore, TOSSIM is more of a released by Scalable Network Technologies [18] that is TinyOS emulator than a general WSN simulator. It derived from GloMoSim. Qualnet significantly extends the focuses on simulating TinyOS rather than simulating the set of models and protocols supported by GloMoSim. It real world. This has the advantage that the developed also provides a comprehensive set of advanced wireless algorithms can be tested on a target platform. However, modules and user-friendly tools for building scenarios and this may place some restrictions of the target platform on analysing simulation results. Qualnet is a discrete-event the simulation. TOSSIM is not always the right simulation simulator, as such, it is event driven and time aware. It solution; like any simulation, it makes several assumptions uses a layered architecture that is run by each node. When about the target hardware platform, focusing on making a protocol resides in a particular layer at one node, the some behaviour accurate while simplifying others [1]. packets are passed down crossing the remaining layers at TOSSIM can be used as a tool for absolute evaluation of the sending node, across the network, and then up to the some causes of the behaviour observed in real-world protocol stack at the receiving node. Qualnet has a network deployments. modular design and an intuitive GUI that make it easy to use to learn and modify. C. TOSSF F. OPNET TOSSF [14] is a simulation framework that compiles a TinyOS application into the SWAN [15] simulation OPNET [19] is a further discrete event, object framework. It can be viewed as an improvement over oriented, general purpose network simulator. The engine TOSSIM with a primary focus on scalability. It allows of OPNET is a finite state machine model in combination Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 223
  • 3. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications with an analytical model. It uses a hierarchical model to platforms. The next step in the development cycle define each characteristic of the system. The top hierarchy following the simulation is data replay. In this model, level contains the network model, where the topology is EmStar uses data collected from actual sensors in order to designed. The second level defines the data flow models. run its simulation. Leading directly from this, Emstar uses The third level is the process editor, which handles the half-simulation methodology similar to SensorSim's, control flow models defined in the second level. Finally, a where the software is running on a host machine and parameter editor is included to support the three higher interfacing with a real physical communication channels. levels. The hierarchical models result in event queues for The final step in the development cycle is deployment. a discrete event simulation engine and a set of entities that EmStar combines many of the features of other WSNs handle the events. Each entity represents a node which simulators. Its component based design allows for fair consists of a finite state machine which processes the scalability. Moreover, each aspect of the network can be events during simulation. logically fine-tuned due to its development cycle design. Unlike NS-2 and GloMoSim, OPNET supports Because it targets a particular platform, many protocols modelling sensor-specific hardware, such as physical-link are already available to be used. At the deployment step transceivers and antennas. It also enables users to define in the development cycle, only the configuration files custom packet formats. An attractive feature of OPNET is have to be designed. This potentially adds constraints on its capability of recording a large set of user defined the user as they must either ensure that the hardware results. Furthermore, the GUI (Graphical User Interface), configuration being used matches the existing along with the considerable amount of documentation and configuration file, or they must write their own files. study cases that come along with the license are another The main goal of Emstar is to reduce design attractive feature of the simulator. This GUI interface can complexity, enabling work to be shared and reused, and to also be used to model, graph, and animate the resulting simplify and accelerate the design of new sensor network output. The network operator is provided with editors that applications. While not as efficient and fast as other are required to simplify the different levels of modelling. frameworks like TOSSIM, Emstar provides a simple Though model parameters can be changed, the simulation environmental model and network medium in which to accuracy is influenced because OPNET is not open source design, develop and deploy heterogeneous sensor network software. Similar to NS-2, the object-oriented design of applications. When used as a migration platform from OPNET causes scalability problems. It does not have a code to real sensor environment, the environment model may be sufficient for most developers. Another drawback high number of protocols publicly available possibly of Emstar is that the simulator supports only the code for because of source code licensing constraints. Finally, the types of nodes that it is designed to work with. OPNET is only available in commercial form. The second class of simulators are application-oriented H. SENS simulators, including EmStar [20], SENS [21], J-Sim [22], SENS [21] is a customisable component-based Shawn [23], and Dingo [24]. simulator for WSN applications. It consists of G. EmStar interchangeable and extensible components for applications, network communication, and the physical EmStar [20] is a component based, discrete-event environment. In SENS, each node is partitioned into four framework that offers a range of run-time environments, main components: application, simulates the software from pure simulation, distributed deployment on application of the sensor node; network, handles incoming iPAQs [25], to a hybrid simulation mode similar to and outgoing packets; physical, reads sensed information; SensorSim. Emstar supports the use of simulation in the and environment, network propagation characteristics. early stages of design and development by providing a Multiple different component implementations offer range of simulated sensor network components, including varying degrees of realism. For example, users can choose radios, which provide the same interfaces as actual between various application-specific environments with components. It supports hybrid mode with some actual different signal propagation characteristics. As in components and some simulated components, and full TOSSIM, SENS source code can be ported directly into native mode with no simulated components. As in actual sensor nodes, enabling application portability. TOSSIM, EmStar uses the same source code that runs at Moreover, it provides a power module for development of each of these levels to run on actual sensors. Amongst dependable applications. other simulators, such as TOSSIM, EmStar provides an SENS defines three network models that can be used. option to interface with actual hardware while running a The first successfully forwards packets to all neighbours, simulation. EmStar is compatible with two different types the second delivers with a chance of loss based on a fixed of node hardware. It can be used to develop software for probability, and the third considers the chance of collision Mica2 motes [26] and it also offers support for at each node. The physical component includes the non- developing software for iPAQ based microservers. The network hardware for the sensor such as the power, development cycle is the same for both hardware sensors, and actuators. At a lower level, the environment Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 224
  • 4. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications component models the physical phenomena and the communicates using the same protocols that would be layout. The layout model includes different types of deployed on a physical node. Sensors are modelled using a surfaces, each affecting radio and sound propagation in a pool of concurrent, communicating threads. Individual different way. sensors are able to: (1) Gather and process data from a SENS is less customisable than many other model environment; (2) Locate and communicate with simulators, providing no chance to alter the MAC their nearest neighbours; (3) Determine whether they are protocol, along with other low level network protocols. operating correctly and act accordingly to alter the SENS uses one of the most sophisticated environmental network topology in case of faulty nodes being detected. Nodes may be configured differently to simulate a models and implements the use of sensors well. However, heterogeneous sensor network. Dingo comes with a set of the only measurable phenomenon is sound. application level routing packages including simple multi- I. J-Sim hop flooding, MuMHR [28] and LEACH [29]. J-Sim [22] is a component-based discrete event Dingo features a significant improvement in the simulator built in Java and modelled after NS-2. The simulation performance by giving the option to split the design of this simulator aims at solving many of the visualisation from the simulation. It provides tools for the shortcomings of comparable object-oriented simulators simulation and deployment of high-level, Python code on like NS-2. J-Sim uses the concept of components instead real sensor networks. For example, Dingo-boom provides of the concept of having an object for each individual a two-way interface between MoteIV's Boomerang class node. J-Sim uses three top level components: the target motes and Dingo. Dingo-top is another tool which is used node which produces stimuli, the sensor node that reacts to dump network topology data to a text file and generate to the stimuli, and the sink node which is the ultimate a graphical representation of that topology. Furthermore, destination for stimuli reporting. Each component is Dingo has several features in the form of plugins. These broken into parts and modelled differently within the can be activated/deactivated on the plugin menu. simulator; this eases the use of different protocols in As with SensorSimII, Dingo provides an extensible different simulation runs. visualisation framework that aims at easing the life for J-Sim claim has several advantages over NS-2 and sensor network debugging, assessment, and understanding other simulators. First its component based architecture of the software by visualising the sensor network scales better than the object oriented model used by NS-2 topology, the individual node state, and the transmission and other simulators. Second, J-Sim has an improved of the sensed data. Dingo comes with an interface energy model and the ability to simulate the use of between the simulation environment and different sensors for phenomena detection. Like SensorSim, there hardware platforms, for example the Gumstix [30] is support for using the simulation code for real hardware platform. Also, Dingo allows mixed-mode simulation sensors. However, J-Sim is comparatively complicated to using a combination of real and simulated nodes. In use. While no more complicated than NS-2, the latter Dingo, nodes have the ability to obtain their sensed data simulator is more popular and accepted in the sensor from a database or graphical objects like maps; this network research community and more community improves the fidelity of simulations as it makes it possible support is available, therefore, more people are keen to to check the simulation results against the real data. spend the time to learn how to use it. Dingo focuses on the protocols and algorithms for Though it is scalable, J-Sim has a set of inefficiencies. higher layers of network state but it does not directly First, there is unnecessary overhead in the support sensor networks at the physical layer. It has major intercommunication model. The second problem is drawbacks which limit its functionality. Most of these inherited by most sensor networks simulators that are built drawbacks are due to the incomplete nature of the tool. on top of general purpose simulators, 802.11 is the only These drawbacks are: (1) The lack for Media Access MAC protocol that can be used in J-Sim. Finally, Java is Control or MAC layer, communications to be handled by possibly less efficient than many other languages. point-to-point systems. (2) No collision management procedure, partly due to the absence of the MAC layer. J. Dingo Dingo [27] provides a workbench for prototyping K. NS-3 algorithms for WSNs taking a top-down design NS-2 [31] is an object-oriented discrete event methodology. Having no target platform means the full simulator targeted at networking research. It is an open functionality of a programming language can be used. This source network simulator originally designed for wired, eases the design process as prototype algorithms can be IP networks. The NS-2 simulation environment offered tested before optimisation for the target platform. Dingo great flexibility in studying the characteristics of WSNs consists of a fixed API, with customisable internals. It has because it includes flexible extensions for WSNs. NS-2 a simple graphical user interface and a set of base classes, has a number of limitations: (1) It puts some restrictions which are extended by the user to create simulation. Each on the customisation of packet formats, energy models, simulated sensor node runs in its own thread and MAC protocols, and the sensing hardware models, which Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 225
  • 5. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications limits its flexibility; (2), the lack of an application model and follow different approaches to investigate different makes it ineffective in environments that require problems. The variety of existing simulation tools has led interaction between applications and the network to accuracy and authenticity issues that concern even the protocols. (3) It does not run real hardware code; (4) It best simulators available today. Such issues also make it has been built by many developers and contains several even more difficult to replicate and compare evaluation inherent known and unknown bugs. (5) It does not scale results from competing simulation systems. Simulation well for WSNs due to its object-oriented design; (6) Using drawbacks also include the lack of visualisation tools, C++ code and oTcl scripts makes it difficult to use. GUI's, poor documentation, absence of examples, To overcome the above drawbacks the improved NS-3 amongst others. simulator [10] was developed. NS-3 supports simulation To solve the dilemma of having an accurate but and emulation. It is totally written in C++, while users scalable and low-cost prototyping solution, we suggest the can use python scripts to define simulations. Hence, use of mixed-mode simulation as an effective midrange transferring NS-2 implementation to NS-3 require manual solution. Mixed-mode simulation is the integration of a intervention. Besides the scalability and performance simulated environment and a real testbed to improve both improvements, simulation nodes have the ability to the accuracy and scalability of testing results. In other support multiple radio interfaces and multiple channels. words, the mixed-mode simulation enables the simulation Furthermore, NS-3 supports a real-time schedule that of algorithms partially in software and partially in a real makes it possible to interact with a real systems [10]. For hardware WSN testbed. A small number of simulation example, a real network device can emit and receive NS-3 tools like NS-3 and Dingo already support this mode of generated packets. simulation. This simulation mode allows researchers to L. Shawn compare the results of running the same algorithm in both simulation and on physical sensor hardware; the Shawn is an open source discrete event simulator for comparison allows the inclusion or the modelling of more WSNs. It is written in C++ and can be run in Linux/Unix realistic conditions in the simulation environment. A and Windows environments. Shawn aims to simulate flexible mixed-mode simulator should support integration large- scale WSNs, where physically accurate simulations fail. The idea behind Shawn is to use abstract models to of heterogeneous sensor devices. Also, the simulation- simulate the affects of a phenomenon rather than the testbed interaction remains a challenging task that needs phenomenon itself [23]. Users of Shawn can adapt the to be addressed. For instance, the authors of Dingo simulation to their needs by selecting the application describe in [33] a new Python library that implements preferred behaviour. The authors claim that Shawn synchronous message-passing concurrency to improve provides a high abstraction level that hides a lot of the coordination between many hosts. simulation details. Users are given full access to the Yet, the choice of a suitable simulator is a difficult communication graph, which allows them to decision. There is no 'best' simulator; each simulator has observe nodes and their data [23]. However, there are specific features that work well in certain circumstances. some limitation in Shawn, for instance: Visualization The selection of a simulator depends mostly on the output is not supported, MAC module is not extent, and algorithmic feature to be evaluated. High level simulators also users need to do much programming [32]. like NS-2 gives an estimation about the applications and some middleware behaviour. Mid-level simulators, e.g. III. DISCUSSION OMNET, provides more information about the physical Generally, real WSNs testbeds provide a more layer components that are simulated without giving too accurate, realistic, and replicable validation mechanism much details. Low-level simulators provide accurate bit for algorithms and protocols. However, the cost of level estimations of the hardware as well as software deployment and maintenance of large-scale testbeds limits performance. Regardless of the simulator, any their applicability. Moreover, the wide variety of simulations will always have weaknesses either due to available sensor hardware can make it rather difficult to non-realistic assumptions or modelling errors that may be replicate any results produced by real testbeds. Besides, present in the algorithm itself. Therefore, developing in some applications, where dangerous conditions are formal methods, e.g. using graph theory [34], to verify the being studied, e.g. chemical pollution, a real testbed is an correctness of new algorithms and protocols is also part of unwanted choice. Out of these restrictions came the need the testing or evaluation research. for simulation as a tool for validating and testing Table 1 summarise and compares the reviewed algorithms/protocols. As shown in Section II, simulation simulation tools. tools are widely available and used by WSNs researchers. However, most of the existing simulators are incomplete Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 226
  • 6. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications TABLE 1. SUMMARY ABOUT REVIEWED SIMULATION TOOLS General or Programming Open Simulators GUI Specific Main Features Limitations Language Source Simulator -Power and communication protocol -Limited in SensorSim project realism models Sensing channel and sensor -Consider limited resources of sensor Specifically nodes. SensorSim C++ No designed Yes models -Simulates the complete WSN protocol for WSNs -Scenario generation stack -Support for hybrid simulations -Can be targeted to motes without -Makes several assumptions about the Specifically modification target hardware platform TOSSIM C++ Yes designed Yes -Nodes share the exact same code image for WSNs -Focusing on making some behaviour -The developed algorithms can be tested accurate while simplifying others on a target platform Specifically -Primary focus on scalability TOSSF C++ Yes designed Yes -Support heterogeneous nodes and -Long test-debug cycles for WSNs dynamic topology -Supports protocols designed purely for -Not scapable of simulating sensor wireless networks networks accurately GloMoSim C/Parsec Yes General Yes -Built using a layered approach. -does not support phenomena occurring -Uses standard APIs between different outside of the simulation environmen simulation layers. Comm- -Comprehensive set of advanced wireless Qualnet C/C++ Yes General - The annual license is expensive ercial modules and user-friendly tools -Uses a hierarchical model to define each Comm- characteristic of the system OPNET C/C++ Yes General - scalability problems ercial -Capability of recording a large set of user defined results -Supports hybrid mode -Provides an option to interface with Specifically actual hardware while running a -Supports only the code for the types of EmStar C Yes designed Yes simulation nodes that it is designed to work with for WSNs -Compatible with two different types of node hardware Specifically -Multiple different component -Less customisable SENS C++ No designed Yes implementations -Only measurable phenomenon is sound for WSNs -Ability to simulate the use of sensors for Specifically -Comparatively complicated to use phenomena detection J-Sim Java Yes designed Yes -Unnecessary overhead in the -Support for using the simulation code for for WSNs intercommunication model real hardware sensors -Full functionality of a programming -Does not directly support sensor Specifically language can be used networks at the physical layer Dingo Python Yes designed Yes -Option to split the visualisation from the -Incomplete nature of the tool for WSNs simulation - Some restrictions on the -Supports simulation and emulation customisation. -Supports a real-time schedule NS-3 C++ No General Yes -Lack of an application model -Ability to support multiple radio -Does not run real hardware code interfaces and multiple channels -Does not scale well for WSNs -Able to simulate large- scale WSNs Specifically -Does not support visualization output -Ability of selecting the application Shawn C++ No designed Yes -MAC module is not extent preferred behaviour for WSNs -Lots of programing is required -Full access to the communication graph Copyright (c) IARIA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61208-207-3 227
  • 7. SENSORCOMM 2012 : The Sixth International Conference on Sensor Technologies and Applications [11] S. Park, A. Savvides, and M.B. Srivastava, “SensorSim: a IV. CONCLUSION simulation framework for sensor networks,” MSWIM '00: Proceedings of the 3rd ACM int. workshop on Modeling, This paper provides a comprehensive review of analysis and simulation of wireless and mobile systems, 2000. simulation tools that are widely used in the field of [12] C. Ulmer, “Wireless Sensor Probe Networks-SensorSimII,” WSNs. The aim is to help researchers choosing the most 2007. appropriate simulation tools to evaluate their work. [13] xbow, “Mica Mote,” 2007. There are a variety of simulation tools with different [14] L.F. Perrone and D.M. Nicol, “A Scalable Simulator For capabilities. However, the authors believe that they are TinyOS Applications,” Simulation Conference, 2002. Proceedings of the Winter, vol. 1, 2002, pp. 679 - 687. insufficient for testing and evaluating WSNs algorithms. [15] A. 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