Optimizing opportunistic communication in wireless networks



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Opportunistic communication leverages communication opportunities arising by chance to provide significant performance benefit and even enable communication where it would be impossible otherwise. The goal of this dissertation is to optimize opportunistic communication to achieve good performance in wireless networks. A key challenge in optimizing opportunistic communication arises from dynamic and incidental nature of communication. Complicated wireless interference patterns, high mobility, and frequent fluctuations in wireless medium make the optimization even harder. This dissertation proposes a series of optimization frameworks that systematically optimizes opportunistic communication to achieve good performance in wireless mesh networks and vehicular networks. We make the following three major contributions: First, we develop novel algorithms, techniques, and protocols that optimize opportunistic communication of wireless mesh network to achieve good, predictable user performance. Our framework systematically optimizes end-to-end performance (e.g., total throughput). It yields significant improvement over existing routing schemes. We also show that it is robust against inaccuracy introduced by dynamic network conditions. Second, we propose a novel overlay framework to exploit inter-flow network coding in opportunistic routing. In this framework, an overlay network performs inter-flow coding to effectively reduce traffic imposed on the underlay network, and an underlay network uses optimized opportunistic routing to provide efficient and reliable overlay links. We show that inter-flow coding together with opportunistic routing and rate-limiting brings significant performance benefit. Finally, we develop a novel optimization framework in vehicular networks to effectively leverage opportunistic contacts between vehicles and access points (APs). We develop a new mobility prediction algorithm and an optimization algorithm to determine an efficient replication scheme that exploit the synergy among Internet connectivity, local wireless connectivity, mesh network connectivity, and vehicular relay connectivity. Based on our framework, we develop a practical system that enables high-bandwidth content distribution and demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach using simulation, emulation, and testbed experiments.