Recent advances in portable computing and wireless technologies are opening up exciting possibilities for the future of wireless mobile networking. A mobile ad hoc network (MANET) is an autonomous system of mobile hosts connected by wireless links. Mobile networks can be classified into infrastructure networks and mobile ad hoc networks according to their dependence on fixed infrastructures. In an infrastructure mobile network, mobile nodes have wired access points (or base stations) within their transmission range.
The access points compose the backbone for an infrastructure network. In contrast, mobile ad hoc networks are autonomously self-organized networks without infrastructure support. In a mobile ad hoc network, nodes move arbitrarily, therefore the network may experiences rapid and unpredictable topology changes. Additionally, because nodes in a mobile ad hoc network normally have limited transmission ranges, some nodes cannot communicate directly with each other. Hence, routing paths in mobile ad hoc networks potentially contain multiple hops, and every node in mobile ad hoc networks has the responsibility to act as a router.
Mobile ad hoc networks originated from the DARPA Packet Radio Network (PRNet) and SURAN project. Being independent on pre-established infrastructure, mobile ad hoc networks have advantages such as rapid and ease of deployment, improved flexibility and reduced costs.
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