Experimental Evaluation of Wireless Simulation Assumptions

David Kotz, Dartmouth College
Calvin Newport, Dartmouth College
Robert S. Gray, Dartmouth College
Jason Liu, Dartmouth College
Yougu Yuan, Dartmouth College
Chip Elliott, Dartmouth College

Report by Dartmouth Department of Computer Science


All analytical and simulation research on ad hoc wireless networks must necessarily model radio propagation using simplifying assumptions. Although it is tempting to assume that all radios have circular range, have perfect coverage in that range, and travel on a two-dimensional plane, most researchers are increasingly aware of the need to represent more realistic features, including hills, obstacles, link asymmetries, and unpredictable fading. Although many have noted the complexity of real radio propagation, and some have quantified the effect of overly simple assumptions on the simulation of ad hoc network protocols, we provide a comprehensive review of six assumptions that are still part of many ad hoc network simulation studies. In particular, we use an extensive set of measurements from a large outdoor routing experiment to demonstrate the weakness of these assumptions, and show how these assumptions cause simulation results to differ significantly from experimental results. We close with a series of recommendations for researchers, whether they develop protocols, analytic models, or simulators for ad hoc wireless networks.