Abstracting Application Development for Resource Constrained Wireless Sensor Networks

M.Sc. Teemu Laukkarinen defended his Doctoral Thesis last Friday on the devlopment of abstraction layers for resource constrained WSNs.

Teemu very peacefully giving his Lectio Praecursoria as if it was any other lecture

Here’s a cut abstract of his thesis abstract:

“The development of WSN application software requires the abstraction of computing, communication, data access, and heterogeneous sensor data sources to reduce the complexities. Abstractions enable the faster development of new applications with a better reuse of existing software, as applications are composed of high-level tasks that use the services provided by the devices to execute the application logic.

The main research question of this thesis is: What abstractions are needed for application development for resource constrained WSNs? This thesis models WSN abstractions with three levels that build on top of each other: 1) node abstraction, 2) network abstraction, and 3) infrastructure abstraction. The node abstraction hides the details in the use of the sensing, communication, and processing hardware. The network abstraction specifies methods of discovering and accessing services, and distributing processing in the network. The infrastructure abstraction unifies different sensing technologies and infrastructure computing platforms.

As a contribution, this thesis presents the abstraction model with a review of each abstraction level. Several designs for each of the levels are tested and verified with proofs of concept and analyses of field experiments. The resulting designs consist of an operating system kernel, a software update method, a data unification interface, and all abstraction levels combining abstraction called an embedded cloud.

The results of this thesis are tested using proof of concept implementations on real WSN hardware which is constrained by computing power in the order of a few MIPS, memory sizes of a few kilobytes, and small sized batteries. The results will remain usable in the future, as the vast amount, tight integration, and low-cost of future IoT devices require the combination of complex computation with resource constrained platforms.”

Professor Jukka Riekki opens the questioning process of the defense

Professors Ismo Hakala and Jukka Riekki acted as opponents and Marko Hännikäinen formed the custos. The questioning process was very thorough and every section of the manuscript were covered. Teemu answered clearly and simply to every question and it felt at times like a lecture on how things work with WSNs.


The two most important questions raised from this defense were on centralized vs. distributed computation, and on ontologies as abstraction level. The former was about the tools from Teemu’s thesis that should be used to spread application computations to the different nodes of the network. The latter was about unification and the possibility to define the semantics of the domain at the level of ontologies. Some parts of these questions were considered in the opponent’s wrap-up as opened for future directions of the work. Maybe something to do with the W3C Semantic Sensor Network Ontlogy?

Professor Ismo Hakala closes the discussion and attests that Teemu defended his work properly.

Teemu inaugurated the serie of 5 defenses coming this autumn from our department. Congratulations, Doctor Teemu! Good luck for the next ones!

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