An isotropic universal decentralized estimation scheme for a bandwidth constrained ad hoc sensor network

Zhi Quan Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Consider a decentralized estimation problem whereby an ad hoc network of K distributed sensors wish to cooperate to estimate an unknown parameter over a bounded interval [-U, U]. Each sensor collects one noise-corrupted sample, performs a local data quantization according to a fixed (but possibly probabilistic) rule, and transmits the resulting discrete message to its neighbors. These discrete messages are then percolated in the network and used by each sensor to form its own minimum mean squared error (MMSE) estimate of the unknown parameter according to a fixed fusion rule. In this paper, we propose a simple probabilistic local quantization rule: each sensor quantizes its observation to the first most significant bit (MSB) with probability 1/2, the second MSB with probability 1/4, and so on. Assuming the noises are uncorrelated and identically distributed across sensors and are bounded to [-U, U], we show that this local quantization strategy together with a fusion rule can guarantee a MSE of 4U2 / K, and that the average length of local messages is bounded (no more than 2.5 bits). Compared with the worst case Cramer-Rao lower bound of U2 / K (even for the centralized counterpart), this is within a factor of at most 4 to the minimum achievable MSE. Moreover, the proposed scheme is isotropic and universal in the sense that the local quantization rules and the final fusion rules are independent of sensor index, noise distribution, network size, or topology. In fact, the proposed scheme allows sensors in the network to operate identically and autonomously even when the network undergos changes in size or topology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-744
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received December 15, 2003; revised July 30, 2004. This paper was supported in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada under Grant OPG0090391, in part by the Canada Research Chair Program, and in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant DMS-0312416.


  • Decentralized estimation
  • Distributed signal processing
  • Sensor network


Dive into the research topics of 'An isotropic universal decentralized estimation scheme for a bandwidth constrained ad hoc sensor network'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this