Skip to main content

Managing RFID events in large-scale distributed RFID infrastructures


As RFID installations become larger and more geographically distributed, their scalability becomes a concern. Currently, most RFID processing occurs in a central location, gathering tag scans and matching them to event-condition-action (ECA) rules. However, as the number of scans and ECA rules grows, the workload quickly outpaces the capacity of a centralized processing server. In this paper, we consider the problem of distributing the RFID processing workload across multiple nodes in the system. We describe the problem, and present an overview of our approach. We then formulate two decision models for distributing the processing across the system. One generates an optimal allocation based on global awareness of the state of the system. This problem is \(\mathcal{NP}\)-hard and assumes that bandwidth and processing resource availability is known in a central location, which is unrealistic in real scenarios. Thus, we use this model as a theoretical optimal model for comparison purposes. The second model generates a set of local decisions based on locally-available processing and bandwidth information, which takes much less information into account than the global model, but still produces useful results. We describe our system architecture, and present a set of experimental results that demonstrate that (a) the global model, while providing an optimal allocation of processing responsibilities, model does not scale well, requiring hours to solve problems that the localized model can solve in a few tens of seconds; (b) the localized model generates usable solutions, differing from the optimal solution on average by 2.1% for smaller problem sizes and at most 5.8% in the largest problem size compared; and (c) the localized approach can provide runtime performance near that of the global model, within 3-5% of the global model, and up to a 55% improvement in runtime performance over a (uniform) random allocation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Babu S, Widom J (2001) Continuous queries over data streams. SIGMOD Record 30(3):109–120. doi:10.1145/603867.603884

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bai Y, Wang F, Liu P, Zaniolo C, Liu S (2007) Rfid data processing with a data stream query language. In: Proceedings of the 23rd international conference on data engineering, pp 1184–1193. doi:10.1109/ICDE.2007.368977

  3. Bryant R (1986) Graph-based algorithms for boolean function manipulation. IEEE Trans Comput 35:677–691

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cattrysse DG, Van Wassenhove LN (1992) A survey of algorithms for the generalized assignment problem. Eur J Oper Res 60(3):260–272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chakravarthy S (1997) Sentinel: an object-oriented dbms with event-based rules. In: SIGMOD ’97: proceedings of the 1997 ACM SIGMOD international conference on management of data, ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, pp 572–575. doi:10.1145/253260.253409

  6. Chakravarthy S, Le R, Dasari R (1999) Eca rule processing in distributed and heterogeneous environments. In: Proceedings of the international symposium on distributed objects and applications. Edinburgh, UK, pp 330–339

  7. Chawathe S, Krishnamurthy V, Ramachandrany S, Sarma S (2004) Managing rfid data. In: Proceedings of the 30th VLDB conference, Toronto, Canada, pp 1189–1195

  8. Cheong T, Kim Y (2005) Rfid data management and rfid information value chain support with rfid middleware platform implementation. In: Proceedings of on the move to meaningful internet systems 2005: CoopIS, DOA, and ODBASE, Agia Napa, Cyprus, pp 557–575

  9. Curtin J, Kauffman R, Riggins F (2007) Making the ‘most’ out of rfid technology: a research agenda for the study of the adoption, usage and impact of rfid. Inf Technol Manage 8(2):87–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Delen D, Hardgrave B, Sharda R (2007) Rfid for better supply-chain management through enhanced visibility. Product Oper Manag 16(5):613–624

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Derakhshan R, Orlowska M, Li X (2007) Rfid data management: challenges and opportunities. In: Proceedings of the 2007 international conference on RFID, Grapevine, TX, pp 175–182

  12. Dutta A, Lee H, Whang S (2007) Rfid and operations management: technology, value, and incentives. Product Oper Manag 16(5):646–655

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Dutta K, Ramamritham K, Karthik B, Laddhad K (2007b) Real-time event handling in an rfid middleware system. In: Proceedings of 5th international workshop in databases in networked information systems, Springer, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 4777

  14. Fisher M, Jaikumar R, Wassenhove LV (1986) A multiple adjustment method for the generalized assignment problem. Manage Sci 32:1095–1103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Floerkemeier C, Lampe M (2005) Rfid middleware design: addressing application requirements and rfid constraints. In: sOc-EUSAI ’05: proceedings of the 2005 joint conference on Smart objects and ambient intelligence, ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp 219–224. doi:10.1145/1107548.1107603

  16. Gaukle G, Seifert R, Hausman W (2007) Item-level rfid in the retail supply chain. Product Oper Manag 16(1):65–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Glover B, Bhatt H (2006) RFID essentials. O’Reilly Media, Inc, Sebastopol

    Google Scholar 

  18. Gonzalez H, Han J, Li X, Klabjan D (2006) Warehousing and analyzing massive rfid data sets. In: Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on data engineering (ICDE’06), p 85

  19. Guignard M, Rosenwein M (1989) An improved dual based algorithm for the generalized assignment problem. Oper Res 37(4):658–663

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. IBM (2007) Websphere rfid premises server., last accessed: November 2007

  21. ILOG Inc (2009) Ilog cplex: a high performance software for mathematical programming and optimization.

  22. Jeffery S, Garofalakis M, Franklin M (2006) Adaptive cleaning for rfid data streams. In: Proceedings of the 32nd international conference on very large data bases, Seoul, Korea, pp 175–186

  23. Jeffrey S, Franklin M, Garofalakis M (2008) An adaptive rfid middleware for supporting metaphysical data independence. VLDB J 17:265–289

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Jelasity M, Preuss M (2002) On obtaining global information in a peer-to-peer fully distributed environment. In: Proceedings of the 8th international euro-par conference, Paderborn, Germany, pp 205–220

  25. Kermarrec AM, Massouli L, Ganesh AJ (2003) Probabilistic reliable dissemination in large-scale systems. IEEE Trans Parallel Distrib Syst 14:248–258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Liu L, Pu C, Tang W (1999) Continual queries for internet scale event-driven information delivery. IEEE Trans Knowl Data Eng 11(4):610–628

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Nagargadde A, Varadarajan S, Ramamritham K (2005) Semantic characterization of real world events. In: DASFAA, pp 675–687

  28. Ngai E, Cheng T, Lai KH, Chai P, Choi Y, Lin R (2007) Development of an rfid-based traceability system: experiences and lessons learned from an aircraft engineering company. Product Oper Manag 16(5):554–568

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Papamarkos G, Poulovassilis R, Wood P (2003) Event-condition-action rule languages for the semantic web. In: Proceedings of the workshop on semantic web and databases, pp 309–327

  30. Paton N, Diaz O (1999) Active database systems. ACM Comput Surv 31(1):63–103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Rao J, Doraiswamy S, Thakkar H, Colby L (2006) A deferred cleansing method for rfid data analytics. In: Proceedings of the 32nd international conference on very large data bases, Seoul, Korea, pp 175–186

  32. Saygin C, Sarangapani J, Grasman S (2007) Trends in supply chain design and management, Springer, London, chap A systems approach to viable RFID implementation in the supply chain, pp 3–27

  33. TIBCO Software Inc (2009) Tibco rendezvous.

  34. Wang F, Liu S, Liu P, Bai Y (2006) Bridging physical and virtual worlds: complex event processing for rfid data streams. In: Proceedings of advances in database technology—EDBT 2006, Munich, Germany, pp 588–607

  35. Zhao X, Jin B, Yu S, Long Z (2008) Composite subscription and matching algorithm for rfid applications. In: Advanced information networking and applications, 2008 AINA 2008 22nd international conference on pp 122–129. doi:10.1109/AINA.2008.49

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Debra VanderMeer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dutta, K., VanderMeer, D. & Ramamritham, K. Managing RFID events in large-scale distributed RFID infrastructures. Inf Technol Manag 12, 253–272 (2011).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • RFID
  • Data management
  • Distributed systems
  • Design science