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With the advances in micro-electronics, wireless sensor devices have been made much smaller and more integrated, and large-scale wireless sensor networks (WSNs) based the cooperation among the significant amount of nodes have become a hot topic. "Large-scale" means mainly large area or high density of a network. Accordingly the routing protocols must scale well to the network scope extension and node density increases. A sensor node is normally energy-limited and cannot be recharged, and thus<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.3390/s110403498">doi:10.3390/s110403498</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22163808">pmid:22163808</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PMC3231341/">pmcid:PMC3231341</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/g76fuvv6rvfgnc6akp4a3t64yy">fatcat:g76fuvv6rvfgnc6akp4a3t64yy</a> </span>
more »... s energy consumption has a quite significant effect on the scalability of the protocol. To the best of our knowledge, currently the mainstream methods to solve the energy problem in large-scale WSNs are the hierarchical routing protocols. In a hierarchical routing protocol, all the nodes are divided into several groups with different assignment levels. The nodes within the high level are responsible for data aggregation and management work, and the low level nodes for sensing their surroundings and collecting information. The hierarchical routing protocols are proved to be more energy-efficient than flat ones in which all the nodes play the same role, especially in terms of the data aggregation and the flooding of the control packets. With focus on the hierarchical structure, in this paper we provide an insight into routing protocols designed specifically for large-scale WSNs. According to the different objectives, the protocols are generally classified based on different criteria such as control overhead reduction, energy consumption mitigation and energy balance. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of each protocol, we highlight their innovative ideas, describe the underlying principles in detail and analyze their advantages and disadvantages. OPEN ACCESS Sensors 2011, 11 3499 Moreover a comparison of each routing protocol is conducted to demonstrate the differences between the protocols in terms of message complexity, memory requirements, localization, data aggregation, clustering manner and other metrics. Finally some open issues in routing protocol design in large-scale wireless sensor networks and conclusions are proposed.
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