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An Analysis of Hidden Node Problem in IEEE

802.11 Multihop Networks


Jangkeun Jeong, Hyuntai Kim, Sangtae Lee and Jitae Shin

School of Information and Communication Engineering


Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, 440-746, Korea
{carrot252, hthtsog, banyagox, jtshin}@skku.edu

Abstract- Prevailed IEEE 802.11 WLAN has been applied


widely

to

wireless

multihop networks,

but

its

performance

degraded severely from well-known hidden node problem.

This

paper proposes a novel analysis based on simple mathematical


model for the hidden node problem which is classified as two
typical cases, this is, the situations within or out of carrier sense
ranges among hidden nodes. Our model is, our model is quite
simple against existing complex models, but is well matched as
the simulation results using NS2 for the performance evaluation.
Keywords-hidden node, IEEE 802.11, contention window.

1.

INTRODUCTION

Even though IEEE 802.11 WLAN [1] has used widely in


wireless communication, the performance is still suffered in
wireless multihop environments. Main degradation comes
from well-known causes such as capture, exposed and hidden
node problems, especially the hidden node problem is a major
factor to affect throughput.
Since G. Bianchi's paper [2], many throughput analyses of
802.11 WLAN have been studied [3, 4]. The result of these
studies is that the more the number of nodes, the less
throughput is. In [3], P. Gupta and P. Kumar show that each
node of network shares total capacity. Hence the number of
nodes increases, throughput is decreased per nodes. Also, in
[4], throughput is affected by offered traffic pattern. This
tendency is more severe in wireless multihop network from
the hidden node problem. However, above mentioned studies
neglect this problem. Among nodes sharing the capacity, the
hidden nodes cause drop of frames severely. As the result of
frame drop, total throughput of network is degraded a lot.
Recent study about hidden node is progressed through
stochastic model [5]. However, the stochastic model is very
sensitive about environment. So it is difficult to generalize and
adjust realistic model, but this model functions give us a
direction to move on.
In this paper, we propose new stochastic model to approach
theoretically for the hidden node problem. Through this model,
we validate our proposition mathematically.

scheme based on carrier sense multiple access with collision


avoidance ( CSMAl CA). That is, to avoid collision, it use
carrier sensing. In the D CF, each nodes use contention
window (CW) to compete. To transmit, the node randomly
selects an integer value in the range of [0, CW-l]. When
collision occurs, each node performs the exponential backoff
mechanism for successful retransmission. The exponential
backoff mechanism is that the contention window size of each
node is increased double from CWmin to CWmax, until it
reaches CWmax. Then the collision probability is decreased at
retransmission attempt. This selected integer value is a
backoff time.
The hidden node problem occurs that nodes can't hear
each other. Fig. 1 describes the relation of hidden nodes. The
node 1 and 2 don't hear each other. So, these nodes suffer a
collision at transmission attempt. And retransmission may go
through collision, although the exponential backoff
mechanism was operated well. Since these nodes are still
failing to know each other's presence. So the hidden node
problem is not solved by the exponential backoff mechanism.
To check throughput with hidden node environment, we
perform a simulation using NS2 [6]. The result of simulation
is shown on Fig. 2. In no hidden node environment, the
throughput is proportional to the offered traffic and the
throughput is saturated. But, if there are the hidden nodes, the
throughput increases in the beginning stage, but it goes down
abruptly soon. This simulation shows us that the hidden nodes
are the major worse influence on overall network performance.
There exists solution to hidden node problem such as
RTS/ CTS scheme, but it doesn't frequently use because of the
overhead of this scheme. Thus, these networks with no

II. HIDDEN NODE PROBLEM AND EXPONENTIAL BACKOFF


MECHANISM

The IEEE 802.11 WLAN based on distributed coordination


function (D CF) operates data transmlSSlOn through
contentions between the nodes. The D CF is a random access

282

Fig. 1. The hidden node

The effect of hidden nodes

/+ - --t"- -+

- -+---

node 1

------L---------------..

________

/ / I to without hidden nodes I


.r
/ with hidden nodes I
node 2
c

Fig. 4 Circumstance of collision occurrence

/ - ... \
\

,,

..

'+,
"""t-------
---L--------L--
2
O

o Lo

offered traffic (Mbps)

Fig. 2. Performance with hidden node

sender

receiver

DATA

I
I
I

--- ______---1!---;:__-i---+_____
t
-i-____,r-+-

______

I
I
I
I

I
I
I

---t==:;'+::t:
===::jfACKl
--=-tj+
+
h

-----

Biff

I OIFS I

Fig. 3. Time structure of IEEE 802.

10

,sIFSI

-.

----

I OIFS

Fig. 5 Jointly random variables

I I basic access mechanism

scheduling function have collisions frequently although the


exponential backoff mechanism is operated.
The timing diagram of IEEE 802.11 D CF basic access
mechanism is illustrated as Fig. 3. In Fig. 3, the times denoted
as to is the time of data packet transmission. The backoff time
is the period to wait along a chosen CW value. We consider a
collision circumstance cause by hidden node. So we focus on
to and backoff time only.

X-

A.

to

Two hidden nodes

Fig. 1 is a typical form of the hidden node. In order to


analyze mathematically, we define two discrete random
variables, X and Y, and two random variables are assumed to
have a uniformly distribution. The random variable X is
correspondent to the CW of node 1. The relation between Y
and the CW value of node 2 is similar.

U[O,W,l
U[O,W,l

(1)

where Wl and W2 are (CWmin - 1) of the node 1 and 2,


respectively. We need to make a same unit between to and
Cw.

Ill. PROPOSED ANALYSIS OF HIDDEN NODE PROBLEM


We assume that two nodes are deployed and play a role as
the hidden node each other such as Fig. 1. The nodes 1 and 2
have transmission on a time interval of [a, b] and [c, d],
respectively as shown in Fig. 4. The nodes 1 and 2 start a
transmission at different time. If the node 2 starts a
transmission before the transmission of node 1 was over, i.e.,
b > c, two nodes eventually cause collision. Therefore, the
node's transmissions are wasted as amount as ACK timeout
and they start retransmission. Our purpose is to establish the
relationship between the hidden nodes and the CW value. In
order to make it simple, we assume that the number of
retransmission is zero and the ACK timeout is neglected and
all nodes of the network have same value ofCW.

y-

one packet size(bits)


=

data rate

to

sl ot time

(2)

The collision cases are as follows


X:S;Y:s;X+T
Y:S;X:S;Y+T

Hence, the probability of collision is as follows

=P[I Y-XI:S;T] .

(3)

That is, if the difference between the backoff time is equal and
less than T, the nodes don't avoid collision. Fig. 5 expresses
(3). In Fig. 4, the number of points within crease line areas is
the event of collisions. Granted that T is fixed, the collision
probability is lower according to increase of Wl and W2 and
can be described as

283

p
,

the number of points in deviant crease lines


the number of points in rectangular

(4)

node 1

node 2 & node 3

----------.
w,

.
____'______

---'- ---'-

--L.______
w,

__

__

______

Fig. 8. Case 1

Fig. 6. The hidden node within carrier sense range (case

node 1

____________

--L.__________________

node 2

----------'--..
W,

node 3

______

-L________________________

W,

I)

W,

Fig. 9. Case 2

Fig. 7 . The hidden node out o f carrier sense range (case 2)

Therefore, the probability of successful transmission


follows
( - T)( - T +1) (W, -T)(W, - T +1)
+
2
2
P, =

(+ I)(W, + I)

IS

as

(5)

By our assumption, W1 and W2 are same. So, we can rewrite


(5) as follows
p

where W is (CWmin

(W-T)(W-T+l)
(W +1)'

1)

(6)

1).

B. The typical cases of hidden node


The throughput is affected by the location of the hidden
node. In other words, the hidden node effect is different
according to a single or a party such as Fig. 6 and Fig. 7 which
are two representatives of the hidden node. We focus on the
link between node 1 and node D in Fig. 6 and Fig. 7 to get an
analysis result without loss of generality. Fig. 6 is the case that
the hidden nodes can do carrier sense each other. This case is
called ' Case 1'. In Fig. 7, the hidden nodes can't do carrier
sense. We call ' Case 2'. Our target, node 1, feels different
with Case 1 and Case 2. Fig. 8 and 9 represent above
circumstances. In Case 1, the node 1 find out that two hidden
nodes are equal to independent hidden nodes. The node 2
thinks that they are a party in Case 2. We analyze two cases to
use the analysis of Section lILA.

Case 1: In this case, we can calculate the probability of


successful transmission, by using (6) and independence
of the event. From the point of view of the node 1, the
node 2 and 3 affect independently. Therefore, the
probability of successful transmission is as follow.
p

2)

= W-T)(W-T+l) '
(w + I)'

(7)

Case 2: Against the Case 1, this case has very high


complexity. Since the events of the node 2 and 3 are
dependent. So, in order to calculate the probability of
successful transmission, we consider all successful
events. Hence, we derive Ps from all events. First, we
consider whether the difference between the node 2
and 3 accommodate the data packet of the node 1 or
not. Then we obtain a following equation.

P,

P[IW3-W21>D)

P[W3-W2<TIW3>W2+D)
(P[W2>+TIW3>W2+D'W3-W2<T]
+P[W3+2T<IW3>W2+D,W3-W2< T]
+P[ - W22TIW3>W2+D)

[P[W2>+TIW3>W2+D'W3-W22T]
+P[W2+T<I W3>W2+D, -W22T]
xP[W3+T>+ TIW3>W2+D,W3-W22T]
+P[W3+2T<IW3>W2+D,W3-W22 T]
where D is D IFS (distributed interframe space).

284

(8)
1

TABLE I
PARAMETERS FOR NS2 SIMULATIONS

The number of nodes


Slot time
DIFS
Data rate
Packet size
lnput traffic

0.9

0.8

or 4

0.7

9 llsec
34 llsec

:g:

0.6

54 M b ps
1024 Bytes
I M bp s CBR

>-

..,.
I

.5

l:J.

0.4
0.3

'><'''''lio"
simulation

0.2
0.1

32

128

64

256

cw....
0.9

Fig. II. accuracy of estimation in Case I

.. -"

0.8
0.7
0.6

//K'

0.5

..

'
0.9
0.8
_

1l.

0.4

0.3
0.2

./

0.7
0.6
0.5

'l'

0.4

I-

0.3
0.2

0.1

0.1

32

64

cw_

128

256

/ /./{
",/. .
.
32

..

.
..

.
..

//.......

..
..
..
.
..
..

64

128

1-+
l:J.

.stim"'o"
Simulation

256

CWm'"

Fig. 10. basic case of the hidden nodes

Fig. 12. accuracy of estimation in Case 2

IV. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION


The accuracy of proposed model is verified by NS2
simulation results. The NS2 parameters are configured in
Table L For the other parameters, we follow the specification
of IEEE 802.11a [7]. Since we analyze the hidden node
problem in terms of the CW, we observe the throughput along
the change of CW
Fig. 10 shows that our model has considerable accuracy
with Fig. 1. Then based on this topology, the representative
forms of hidden node are applied. Our analysis model is well
matched with simulation results as shown in Fig. 11 for the
Case 1 and in Fig. 12 for the Case 2. However, in the Case 2,
there exists small difference between the model estimation
and simulation value at the CW min value of 256. The reason is
that a delay time is not considered to calculate the throughput
The larger CWmin causes the longer overhead and the
throughput is affected from the delay of larger CWmin.

In our future work, we remove the underlined assumption


and investigate a scheme avoiding the effect of hidden nodes
in more realistic network topologies based on our current
model.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This work was supported by the National Research


Foundation (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government
(MEST) (2010-0016896).
REFERENCES
[ 1]
[2]
[3]
[ 4]
[5]

V. CONCLUSION
We propose a new simple mathematical model to analyze
well-known the hidden node problem based on a probability
theory. The simulation results using NS2 simulator to validate
our model show that our analysis has a considerable accuracy
under simple and practical assumption of no retransmission.

[6]
[7]

285

IEEE Standard for Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and
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