Neighbor Discovery in Wireless Networks and the Coupon Collector's Problem
Neighbor discovery is one of the first steps in the initialization of a wireless ad hoc network. In this paper, we design and analyze practical algorithms for neighbor discovery in wireless networks. We first consider an ALOHA-like neighbor discovery algorithm in a synchronous system, proposed in an earlier work. When nodes do not have a collision detection mechanism, we show that this algorithm reduces to the classical Coupon Collector’s Problem. Consequently, we show that each node discovers all its n neighbors in an expected time equal to ne(ln n+c), for some constant c. When nodes have a collision detection mechanism, we propose an algorithm based on receiver status feedback which yields a ln n improvement over the ALOHA-like algorithm. Our algorithms do not require nodes to have any estimate of the number of neighbors. In particular, we show that not knowing n results in no more than a factor of two slowdown in the algorithm performance. In the absence of node synchronization, we develop asynchronous neighbor discovery algorithms that are only a factor of two slower than their synchronous counterparts. We show that our algorithms can achieve neighbor discovery despite allowing nodes to begin execution at different time instants. Furthermore, our algorithms allow each node to detect when to terminate the neighbor discovery phase.