On the Average Case Communication Complexity for Detection in Sensor Networks

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The problem of sensor-network-based distributed intrusion detection in the presence of clutter is considered. It is argued that sensing is best regarded as a local phenomenon in that only sensors in the immediate vicinity of an intruder are triggered. In such a setting, lack of knowledge of intruder location gives rise to correlated sensor readings. A signal-space viewpoint is introduced in which the noise-free sensor readings associated to intruder and clutter appear as surfaces $\mathcal{S_I}$ and $\mathcal{S_C}$ and the problem reduces to one of determining in distributed fashion, whether the current noisy sensor reading is best classified as intruder or clutter. Two approaches to distributed detection are pursued. In the first, a decision surface separating $\mathcal{S_I}$ and $\mathcal{S_C}$ is identified using Neyman-Pearson criteria. Thereafter, the individual sensor nodes interactively exchange bits to determine whether the sensor readings are on one side or the other of the decision surface. Bounds on the number of bits needed to be exchanged are derived, based on communication complexity (CC) theory. A lower bound derived for the two-party average case CC of general functions is compared against the performance of a greedy algorithm. The average case CC of the relevant greater-than (GT) function is characterized within two bits. In the second approach, each sensor node broadcasts a single bit arising from appropriate two-level quantization of its own sensor reading, keeping in mind the fusion rule to be subsequently applied at a local fusion center. The optimality of a threshold test as a quantization rule is proved under simplifying assumptions. Finally, results from a QualNet simulation of the algorithms are presented that include intruder tracking using a naive polynomial-regression algorithm.