The synchronous flashing of fireflies is a spectacular example for self-organization in nature. Thousands of fireflies gather in trees and flash in unison using a distributed mechanism that can be understood using the theory of coupled oscillators. This theory has successfully been used for modeling many other synchronization and coordination phenomena, such as sleep cycles, firing of neurons, and vibration of bridges.
Researchers at Lakeside Labs aim at advancing this field of science and transferring it to technological applications, in particular to wireless communication networks. “Synchronization is an important building block in large networks of embedded systems,” project leader Christian Bettstetter argues. Synchrony should emerge in a distributed manner without having to rely on central entities.
Indeed the team has developed a solution that seems to work well in wireless systems. It is now being implemented in a programmable hardware platform for field tests. Johannes Klinglmayr is already very excited about the results. “Let’s see whether measurements in a real-world environment will confirm our promising simulation results” the researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Klagenfurt says.
Lakeside Labs also investigates robustness aspects of self-organizing synchronization against faulty devices. What happens if one or more devices misbehave in some manner? The idea is to use an approach from neuroscience and combine it with own results. “We have mathematically proven that the resulting algorithm converges,” Klinglmayr proudly concludes. “Our latest results will appear in the ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems.”
The Federation of Carinthian Industry recently awarded the young scientist with a 10.000 Euro scholarship to promote his work and spend a sabbatical at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Germany.
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