A software architecture for cross-layer wireless networks
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Conventional data networks are based on a layered architecture, in which a layer implements some aspect of the network while hiding the detailed implementation from the other layers. The introduction of wireless networks has created a need to violate this layered discipline to create cross-layer designs or adaptations. Such cross-layer adaptations optimize the performance of wireless networks by using information from any layer in the network. The key problem is that ad-hoc implementations of cross-layer adaptations introduce complex interactions between layers and thus reduce the level of modularity and abstraction in the network's implementation. This gives rise to a significant increase in complexity. We demonstrate that a new software architecture is able to provide a systematic framework that helps us to implement a wide variety of cross-layer adaptations while preserving to a significant degree the modularity found in the existing network's implementation. To develop such an architecture, we first create a taxonomy of possible cross-layer adaptations. The taxonomy allows a precise description of a wide variety of cross-layer adaptations. Thus our taxonomy can serve as a framework for developing a cross-layer architecture. We develop the software architecture by creating two architectures, a conceptual one and a concrete one. We first develop a conceptual architecture, which shows the key mechanisms that are required to implement cross-layer adaptations. This architecture helps us to understand how we can implement cross-layer adaptations by using our architectural framework. We then develop a concrete architecture, which shows how we can implement such a conceptual architecture on real wireless systems. This architecture addresses more detailed implementation issues. We design the concrete architecture for Hydra, which is a flexible wireless network testbed. We then show that our architecture is generic enough to allow us to support a wide set of cross-layer architectures. We evaluate the proposed architecture by performing three case studies, each of which implements a cross-layer adaptation within Hydra based on the concrete architecture. The case studies allow us to implement and evaluate the key mechanisms provided by our architectural framework. We also implement each cross-layer adaptation by using a conventional approach, in which one layer performs the cross-layer adaptation directly communicating with other layers and other nodes. Comparing both the implementation techniques allows us to evaluate how our architectural framework supports a wide variety of cross-layer adaptations while reducing the complexity of implementation of cross-layer adaptations.