Date of Award

6-2012

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

John Bellardo

Abstract

With a focus of always being connected, it's become typical for laptops and mobile devices to include multiple wireless network devices. Though the additional network devices have created mobility and versatility of how a user is connected, it is common for only one to be active at any given time. While likely that new mesh protocols will help maximize connectivity and power consumption by utilizing lower-power multi-hop techniques, it is still difficult to visualize these protocols due to the complexity created by each node's simple choices. Further challenges are presented by the variety of network devices which share frequency ranges with different output power, sensitivities, and antenna radiation patterns. Due to the complexity of these configurations and environments, it becomes clear that reproducible simulations are required.

While several network simulators have been thoroughly tested over their many years of use, they often lack realistic handling of key factors that affect wireless networks. A few examples include cross-channel interference, propagation delays, interference caused by nodes beyond communication range, channel switching delays, and non-uniform radiation patterns. Another key limitation of these past tools is their limited methods for clearly displaying characteristics of multi-channel communication. Furthermore, these past utilities lack the graphical and interactive functions which promote the discovery of edge cases through the use of human intuition and pattern recognition.

Even with their other limitations, many of these simulators are also extendable with new components and simulation abilities. As a result, a large set of protocols and other useful discoveries have been developed. While the concepts are well tested and verified, a new challenge is found when moving code from prototype to production due to code portability problems. Due to the sophistication of these creations, even small changes in code during a protocols release can have dramatic effects on its functionality. Both to encourage quicker development cycles and maintain code validation, it would be advantageous to provide simulation interfaces which directly match that of production systems.

To overcome the various challenges presented and encourage the use of innate human abilities, this paper presents a novel simulation framework, Network Channel Visualizing Simulator (NCVS), with a real-time, interactive, 3D environment with clear representation and simulation of multi-channel RF communication through multiple network device types.

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