Leader election in ad hoc radio networks: A keen ear helps

Dariusz R. Kowalski, Andrzej Pelc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

24 Scopus citations


We address the fundamental distributed problem of leader election in ad hoc radio networks modeled as undirected graphs. Nodes are stations having distinct integer labels, and each node knows only its own label and a polynomial upper bound on all labels. A signal from a transmitting node reaches all neighbors. What distinguishes radio networks from message-passing networks is that a message is received successfully by a node, if and only if, exactly one of its neighbors transmits in this round. If two neighbors of a node transmit simultaneously in a given round, none of the messages is heard by the receiving node. In this case we say that a collision occurred at this node. An important capability of nodes of a radio network is collision detection: the ability of nodes to distinguish a collision from the background noise occurring when no neighbor transmits. (This ability is the "keen ear" of the nodes.) Can collision detection speed up leader election in arbitrary radio networks? We give a positive answer to this question. More precisely, our main result is a deterministic leader election algorithm working in time O(n) in all n-node networks, if collision detection is available, while it is known that deterministic leader election requires time Ω(n logn), even for complete networks, if there is no collision detection. This is the first computational task whose execution for arbitrary radio networks is shown to be faster with collision detection than without it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAutomata, Languages and Programming - 36th International Colloquium, ICALP 2009, Proceedings
Number of pages13
EditionPART 2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event36th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages and Programming, ICALP 2009 - Rhodes, Greece
Duration: Jul 5 2009Jul 12 2009

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
NumberPART 2
Volume5556 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference36th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages and Programming, ICALP 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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