Slot synchronization is an essential requirement in communication and control networks, used for medium access, scheduling of sleep phases, and collaborative sensing, to give some examples. Having been inspired by the biological phenomenon of synchronously flashing fireflies, a method for self-organizing slot synchronization suited for wireless systems has been developed. It is based on the theory of pulse-coupled oscillators, but goes beyond this theory by taking an engineering perspective and considering the inherent characteristics and capabilities of radio communications.
The basic idea is as follows: devices multiplex a synchronization word with each data packet; a receiving device that detects the known synchronization word adjusts its local clock according to some rule. A network-wide slot structure emerges seamlessly over time as devices exchange packets. In this way, a dedicated synchronization phase is avoided, making the method suited for dynamic meshed networks. These properties gave the method its name Meshed Emergent Firefly Synchronization (MEMFIS).
Alexander Tyrrell, Gunther Auer, and Christian Bettstetter.
Emergent Slot Synchronization in Wireless Networks.
IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 719-732, May 2010.