Leader election in ad hoc radio networks: A keen ear helps

Dariusz R. Kowalski, Andrzej Pelc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We address the fundamental distributed problem of leader election in ad hoc radio networks modeled as undirected graphs. A signal from a transmitting node reaches all neighbors but a message is received successfully by a node, if and only if exactly one of its neighbors transmits in this round. If two neighbors of a node transmit simultaneously in a given round, we say that a collision occurred at this node. Collision detection is the ability of nodes to distinguish a collision from silence. We show that collision detection speeds up leader election in arbitrary radio networks. Our main result is a deterministic leader election algorithm working in time O(n) in all n-node networks, if collision detection is available, while it is known that deterministic leader election requires time Ω(nlogn), even for complete networks, if there is no collision detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1180
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Computer and System Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Collision detection
  • Deterministic algorithms
  • Distributed algorithms
  • Leader election
  • Radio networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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