Distributed simulation techniques are commonly used to improve the speed and scalability of simulators for wireless sensor networks. However, accurate simulations of dynamic interactions of sensor network applications incur large synchronization overheads and severely limit the performance of existing distributed simulators. In this paper, we present two novel techniques that significantly reduce such overheads by minimizing the number of sensor node synchronizations during simulations. These techniques work by exploiting radio and MAC specific characteristics without reducing simulation accuracy. In addition, we present a new mechanism that makes it possible to exploit any potential application specific characteristics for synchronization reductions. We implement and evaluate these techniques in a cycle accurate distributed simulation framework that we developed based on Avrora, a popular parallel sensor network simulator. In our experiments, the techniques achieve a speedup from 2 to 3 times in our simulator and 3 to 6 times compared to Avrora in simulating 1-hop networks with 32 to 256 nodes. In our multi-hop flooding tests, they achieve a speedup of 1.5 to 1.8 times in our simulator and 3.9 to 5.6 times compared to Avrora. The experiments also demonstrate that the speedups can be significantly larger as the techniques scale with sensor network sizes and radio off times.
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