Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

A Survey of Self-Organization in Wireless Networks



Kevin L. Mills


This paper surveys recent research on self-organizing techniques applied to design and control large wireless ad hoc and sensor networks. The survey divides that research into five functional categories: (1) resource sharing, (2) structure formation and maintenance, (3) behavior shaping, (4) resource management, and (5) resiliency. The paper also provides a brief outline of current scientific thinking regarding self-organization, both as a natural property of complex adaptive systems and as a design strategy to control distributed systems. The survey raises several concerns that remain to be addressed by researchers. Can large, wireless systems be designed within a self-organizing framework to meet a comprehensive set of design objectives? Can one set of self-organizing principles be defined, understood and applied to design distributed systems? Can mixed models of self-organization operate simultaneously within a single system without muting, amplifying or interfering with each other? Will self-organized distributed systems achieve stable states, or exhibit phase transitions to turbulent periods, oscillations or chaos? Can techniques be discovered to measure, analyze, visualize and understand global behavior in large distributed systems? Large wireless ad hoc and sensor networks cannot be designed without a foundation of self-organizing strategies; yet the number and significance of unanswered questions suggests that deploying such networks would prove quite risky.
Journal of Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing


Mobile Ad Hoc Networks, Self-organization, Sensor Networks and Wireless Networks


Mills, K. (2007), A Survey of Self-Organization in Wireless Networks, Journal of Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing (Accessed May 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created January 1, 2007, Updated March 2, 2018