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An Improved LEACH Protocol for ApplicationSpecific Wireless Sensor Networks

Chong Wang, Jiakang Liu, Jingming Kuang, Abdul Sattar Malik, Huihui Xiang
School of information science and technology, Beijing Institute of Technology
Beijing, China
AbstractFor wireless sensor networks, how to efficiently utilize
limited energy directly affects the lifetime and the cost. LEACH
is a clustering-based protocol with good performance, which
employs localized coordination to balance the energy usage. In
this paper, an improved LEACH protocol is proposed with a
more reasonable set-up phase. The proposed protocol focuses on
saving the energy cost induced due to redundant nodes and
balancing the energy consumption among sensor nodes by
splitting large clusters into smaller ones. Simulation results,
compared with LEACH, demonstrate that the proposed protocol
can reduce energy consumption and hence prolong the lifetime of
Keywords- wireless sensor networks; LEACH; twin nodes; subCH; lifetime



Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) usually contain

thousands or millions of sensors, which are randomly and
widely deployed. An important challenge in the design of these
networks is that two key resourcescommunication
bandwidth and energyare significantly more limited than in a
tethered network environment [1]. Thus, network protocols
must be designed to achieve best bandwidth utilization, while
minimizing energy consumption.
Cluster-based approaches are suitable for continuous
monitoring applications [2][3]. Among the available
hierarchical routing protocols, LEACH (low-energy adaptive
clustering hierarchy) shows significant performance
improvements in terms of network lifetime and throughput.
Already there has been a lot of research work based upon
LEACH to make this protocol more reasonable and efficient,
such as LEACH-C [1], LEACH with MTE routing [4],
ALEACH [5], TL-LEACH [6], LEACH with MECH routing
[7], etc.



A. LEACH Architecture
LEACH is completely distributed, requiring no control
information from the base station, and nodes do not require
knowledge of the global network. It runs with many rounds.
Each round begins with a set-up phase when the clusters are
organized, followed by a steady-state phase when data are
transferred from the nodes to the cluster head and on to the BS,
as shown in Fig. 1.
The steady-state phase duration is usually much longer than
set-up phase duration. However, the first phase is more
important, in which sensor nodes are allowed to elect
themselves as cluster-heads randomly, and then divided into
clusters. Each node that becomes the cluster head (CH) will
create a TDMA schedule for the sensor nodes within the
cluster. That allows the radio components of each non-CHnode to be turned off all times except during their transmit
time. Fig. 2 shows the cluster formation algorithm of LEACH.

Figure 1. Time line showing operation of LEACH

In this paper, an improved LEACH protocol is proposed for

data gathering and aggregation in WSNs. By modifying the setup phase of LEACH, the proposed scheme improves the
partition of cluster and decreases energy consumption
contributed by redundant nodes. For the development of our
protocol, we make the same assumption as LEACH about the
network model, that the nodes can use power control to vary
the amount of transmit power.
Figure 2. Cluster formation of LEACH protocol

978-1-4244-3693-4/09/$25.00 2009 IEEE

B. Drawbacks of LEACH
Despite the obvious advantages in using LEACH protocol
for cluster organization, few features are still not supported.
LEACH assumes a homogeneous distribution of sensor nodes
in the given area, but this scenario is not quite realistic. Fig. 3 is
an example of the clusters constructed by LEACH. Black
nodes represent cluster heads. All the cluster heads are
distributed on the upper right corner, which can cause two
types of problems: First, the nodes in the left side will consume
much energy to communicate with their cluster heads.
Secondly, compared with CH 1 which has no more than 5
cluster members, CH 5 contains at least 50 cluster members.
Thus, CH 5 will consume much more energy to gather and
process all the data from cluster members; consequently it is
prone for this node to die out earlier.
In Fig. 3, we can also see that some sensor nodes are quite
near with their neighbors. These nodes are marked with the
dashed circles, as shown in the figure, we call them twin nodes.
Normally, the sensors are randomly and densely deployed, so it
is easy to find twin nodes. One can imagine that when sensing
the environment, the twin nodes may get the same results. In
other words, only one node of them is needed, while the others
can keep asleep until the first one exhaust with the energy. In
such a way, networks lifetime may be extended.


Based upon the analysis above, we improved the LEACH

protocol by modifying the set-up phase. Two conceptions
twin nodes (TNs) and sub cluster head (sub-CH)are provided
in this section, with related algorithms.

Figure 3. 100 random nodes in LEACH

T (n) = 1 P (r mod )

During twin nodes detection time, each node broadcasts a

Hello packet with the signal energy of E min by CSMA/CA.
Only twin nodes quite nearby can receive the packet, send back
a packet to declare that it is the twin brother, and then begin to
sleep at once until this round is over. Since signals are
transmitted at a quite low energy level with less information,
the energy consumption and time duration will be small. When
new round comes, each sleeping node wakes up during the
twin nodes detection time, and send a message to its twin
brother. If no reply is received, that means the brother node is
dead out of energy, then the sleeping node starts to work like
an ordinary node.
B. Sub Cluster Head Assignment
In order to avoid the situation shown in Fig. 3, a
mechanism is designed to confine the size of each cluster. The
election of CH is the same as LEACH, and the threshold is set
as follows [8]:



where P is the desired cluster-head probability, r is the

number of the current round and G is the set of nodes that
have not been cluster-heads in the last 1 / P rounds. If the total
number of nodes in the network is N , the expected number of
clusters is:

A. Twin Nodes Detection

At the beginning of the set-up phase, a small period of time
is added before CH election. This time is used to detect twin
nodes. To achieve this, a minimum signal level Emin should
be defined and stored in the memory of sensor nodes to
distinguish twin nodes. The determination of E min depends on
the request precision of sensors and the density of networks.

if n G

E[# CH ] = P 1 = N P


i =1

then the expected number of nodes in each cluster would be:

N0 =



N 0 is assumed to be the eligible number of each cluster,

we also choose this number as a threshold. For cluster i , after
the cluster being formed, the CH will know the number of
sensor nodes in this cluster, N i . If N i N 0 , nothing will be
done; However, if N i > N 0 , sub-CHs will be assigned to
disperse the energy consumption of CH. Number of sub-CHs is
calculated as:

# SCH = i


Sub-CHs are decided at the time when TDMA schedule is

being set up by CH. As in LEACH protocol, the last slot of
frame is assigned to CH; coming back to second last slot
onwards, the sensor node which is assigned this slot will

become the first sub-CH, and so on. CH will keep its receiver
on only for N 0 slots, to collect the first N 0 nodes data. After
that, sub-CH 1 will wake up to collect data during the time
from N 0 + 1 slot to 2 N 0 slot, and then will sub-CH 2, etc.

Fig. 4 shows the operation of our improved protocol, with

the flowchart shown in Fig. 5.

2N 0




N 0 N0 +1 N0 +2

CH would wake up again during sub-CHs slots, collects the

aggregated data and forward it to the base station during its
own slot.

Figure 4. Time line showing operation of improved LEACH protocol

Figure 5. Flowchart of the improved LEACH protocol



Performances of LEACH protocol and the proposed

protocol are simulated and compared in this section. Network
simulator OPNET is used to model the protocols. Our
simulation is based on a network with 100 nodes distributed in
a 100100 m2 area, and the simulation parameters are listed in
Table 1. We run the simulation 10 times to achieve a 95
percent confidence interval for the results.
Fig. 6 shows the total number of data received at the BS
over time. The proposed protocol sends more data to the BS in
the simulation time than LEACH. The reason is that large
clusters are split into smaller ones in our protocol using the
mechanism of sub-CH. That means the data frame will be
smaller, thus the number of frames received by BS will be
increase during the same time.

Number of nodes alive




Simulation area (x,y)

100100 m2

Each node starts with

2J of energy

Simulation time

1800 seconds

Base station location

(50, 75)

Number of nodes


Desired number of cluster

Size of packet

500 bytes

Threshold for twin nodes detection Emin













Time (s)
Figure 7. Number of nodes alive over time


Energy dissipated (J)




Fig. 7 shows the total number of nodes alive over time. By

using the proposed protocol, the network can operate more
time before the first and 60% nodes die. The lifetime is
extended because some redundant nodes keep asleep for most
of time, and energy is saved in such a way; furthermore, due to
the mechanism of sub-CH, more balanced energy is consumed
for each node.









200 300

400 500

600 700

800 900

Time (s)

Data received at BS


Figure 8. Total amount of energy dissipated over time


Fig. 8 shows the simulation results of total energy

consumption over time. For most of time, the proposed
protocol consumes less energy than LEACH. Only at the
beginning, a little more energy is consumed for twin nodes
detection when compared with LEACH.












Time (s)
Figure 6. Total amount of data received at BS over time



We have attempted, through this paper, to suggest a new

protocol which avoids the drawbacks of LEACH protocol
while combining its advantages. The conception sub-CH is
provided, which is used to confine the size of cluster. In
addition, a new method is designed to filter out the redundant
nodes at the beginning of each round, thus energy can be used
more efficiently. Results from our simulation show that the
improved LEACH protocol provides better performance for
energy efficiency and network lifetime.


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