Estimation Diversity and Energy Efficiency in Distributed Sensing

Shuguang Cui, Jinjun Xiao, Andrea Goldsmith, Zhi-Quan Luo, H. Vincent Poor

Distributed estimation based on measurements from multiple wireless sensors is investigated. It is assumed that a group of sensors observe the same quantity in independent additive observation noises with possibly different variances. The observations are transmitted using amplify-and-forward (analog) transmissions over non-ideal fading wireless channels from the sensors to a fusion center, where they are combined to generate an estimate of the observed quantity. Assuming that the Best Linear Unbiased Estimator (BLUE) is used by the fusion center, the equal-power transmission strategy is first discussed, where the system performance is analyzed by introducing the concept of estimation outage and estimation diversity, and it is shown that there is an achievable diversity gain on the order of the number of sensors. The optimal power allocation strategies are then considered for two cases: minimum distortion under power constraints; and minimum power under distortion constraints. In the first case, it is shown that by turning off bad sensors, i.e., sensors with bad channels and bad observation quality, adaptive power gain can be achieved without sacrificing diversity gain. Here, the adaptive power gain is similar to the array gain achieved in Multiple-Input Single-Output (MISO) multi-antenna systems when channel conditions are known to the transmitter. In the second case, the sum power is minimized under zero-outage estimation distortion constraint, and some related energy efficiency issues in sensor networks are discussed.

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