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The Cougar Approach To In-network Query Processing In Sensor Networks

Yong Yao, Johannes Gehrke

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The widespread distribution and availability of small-scale sensors, actuators, and embedded processors is transforming the physical world into a computing platform. One such example is a sensor network consisting of a large number of sensor nodes that combine physical sensing capabilities such as temperature, light, or seismic sensors with networking and computation capabilities. Applications range from environmental control, warehouse inventory, and health care to military environments. Existing sensor networks assume that the sensors are preprogrammed and send data to a central frontend where the data is aggregated and stored for offline querying and analysis. This approach has two major drawbacks. First, the user cannot change the behavior of the system on the fly. Second, conservation of battery power is a major design factor, but a central system cannot make use of in-network programming, which trades costly communication for cheap local computation.In this paper, we introduce the Cougar approach to tasking sensor networks through declarative queries. Given a user query, a query optimizer generates an efficient query plan for in-network query processing, which can vastly reduce resource usage and thus extend the lifetime of a sensor network. In addition, since queries are asked in a declarative language, the user is shielded from the physical characteristics of the network. We give a short overview of sensor networks, propose a natural architecture for a data management system for sensor networks, and describe open research problems in this area.