Here you will find details about my Ph.D Research, Publications, teaching and student projects supervision.

I am researching in the area of Network Management in Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), specifically Fault Management and its related issues in WSN. My field of interest also includes Network Self-Organization and Clustering, Wireless Body Area Sensor Networks, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud computing. My Ph.D. was funded by University of Malakand, under Faculty Development Program  (FDP), sponsored by Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan.

I am the group-leader and focal person of Network Systems & Security Research Group (NSSRG), working under the umbrella of Department of CS&IT, University of Malakand. NSSRG prime objective is to provide a stimulating environment for networking and security research at CS&IT department.

Last, but not the least that recently I have been granted the status of HEC (Higher Education Commission of Pakistan) approved supervisor since Jan 2014 HEC Approved Supervisor List. Currently, I have 8 MS/M.Phil and two Ph.D students in my supervision.

This webpage is just to give a brief detail of my teaching and research.

Fault Management in Wireless Sensor Networks


Wireless Sensor Networks - The phenomenal advances in technologies, such as Micro-electromechanical Systems (MEMS), Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI), and Wireless Communication contributed to the widespread use of distributed small sensor systems. This miniaturization of computing and sensing technologies, and their integration enables the development of tiny, low-power, and low-cost sensors, actuators and controller. Further, embedded computing systems (i.e., systems that are designed to perform only a limited number of dedicated functions, and typically interact with the physical world) continue to find applications in an increasing number of areas. For example, as these systems are highly demanded in the military domain for defence and aerospace system, there is also an increasing focus on these systems in the civil domain to monitor and protect critical infrastructure (such as bridges and tunnels), the national power grid, and pipeline infrastructure. Such wireless networks of distributed sensor nodes are commonly known as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs).

WSNs, can be considered as a special breed of wireless ad hoc networks with reduced or no mobility. These networks combine wireless communication and minimal on-board computation facilities with sensing and monitoring of physical and environmental phenomena. Sensing is a technique used to gather information about a physical object, process, environmental phenomenon or the occurrence of events (e.g. changes in the state such as rise or drop in temperature). These small sizes, low-cost sensor devices have embedded on-board radio transceiver, micro-controller, memory, power supply and the actual sensors. All these components together in a single device form a so-called wireless Sensor node or simply a Sensor.

Sensor link the physical world with the digital world by capturing, interacting and revealing real-world phenomenon and converting these into a form that can be stored, processed, analyzed and further acted upon. Integrated into various devices, machines, and environments, sensor devices provide tremendous societal benefits. For example, figure 1 shows a WSN deployed in a factory to monitor chemical spills, contamination and fire in the area and sends this information to the control centre using Internet or Satellite to take action.


                                                       Figure ‎1. A Wireless Sensor Network, deployed in an atomic reactor for monitoring

Fault Management - For more than two-decade researchers in the area of WSNs has been focusing on solving the problems that sensor networks are facing in the development and deployment of the majority of applications. Various models and techniques have been developed in order to automate and assist in solving of different issues and related difficulties. Most of these solutions are adapted as Network Management strategies while designing applications for WSNs. In general, Network Management is a service that employs a variety of tools, applications, and devices to assist human in monitoring and maintaining networks. A generic Network Management Systems mainly consists of Configuration Management, Performance Management, Accounting Management, Security Management and Fault Management subsystems. In our research we concentrated on Fault Management and its related issues in WSNs. Because faults can cause downtime or unacceptable network degradation, therefore, fault management is the most widely implemented part of any NMS.

Figure ‎2. Network Management Functional Model

For a successful mission completion of a sensor network application, fault-tolerance is a function which is highly required in any WSN’s application. Akyildiz et al. and Koushanfar et al. defined fault-tolerance as the ability of the system to continue functioning in the presence of faults and failures. Fault tolerance has become vitally important in WSNs, because a graceful response to unexpected faults and failures enables the system to operate continuously. A set of services and functions that provide fault-tolerance in the network is called a Fault Management Architecture. Fault management architecture is capable of detecting, diagnosing and recovering a broad spectrum of faults and failures in WSNs and makes the network fault-tolerant. Recent rapid growth of interests in WSNs has further strengthened the importance of fault management in the design and deployment of WSNs. It is a major influence that affects the overall architecture of a NMS, and thus it is a major factor that affects the performance, scalability and event processing speed of a sensor network. Therefore, in order to enable a NMS more suitable for the management of the current large-scale network, a more efficient, high-performance and scalable Fault Management Architecture is required.

Our aim is to develp an efficient fault management architecture, which can Detect, Diagnosis and Recover faults and failures in WSNs. 


Importance of Fault Management Architecture in WSNs


Fault management has been widely considered as a key part of today’s Network Management System (NMS) and IT infrastructure. Recent rapid growth of interests and applications of WSNs has further strengthened the importance of fault management. However, fault management in WSNs is different from the traditional network management. One of the main reasons is that WSNs can be deployed in almost any environment, especially those in which conventional wired and wireless networks are impossible, unavailable, or inaccessible. Furthermore, due to energy limitations, unreliable hardware, connectivity interruption, and environmental variations; faults and failures in WSNs tend to occur more frequently.

Since, faults and failures cannot be prevented in WSNs; thus an important issue is to provide mechanism for minimizing and limiting the spreading of faults in the network. In general, sensor networks need to be fault-tolerant and robust and require surviving in spite of occurrences of faults in individual sensor-nodes, in the network, or even in service provided. One way of dealing with faults is to design a system that is fault-tolerant to begin with. Fault tolerance is the ability to maintain sensor networks functionalities (e.g. QoS and performance etc.) without any interruption. Thus, in order to make the network fault tolerant, it is essential for WSNs to be able to detect faults and failures and to perform something akin to heal and recover the network from the events that might cause faults or failures. A set of services and functions that provide fault tolerance in the network is called a Fault Management Architecture. Proper implementation of fault management can keep the network running at optimum level and minimize the risk of failure.


Functional Layers (Operations) of Fault Management


Generic fault management architecture must provide three basic functions or operations such as fault detection, fault diagnosis and fault recovery. In the relevant literature regarding fault management in WSNs, these functions are also referred Functional layers or Phases of a fault management architecture. In this thesis, we adopted the “functional layer” terminology. Hence, in generic fault management architecture have fault detection, diagnosis and recovery functional layers.


  • Fault Detection - Fault detection is an important layer of fault management architecture; it performs a set of operations where an unexpected failure in the networks should be properly identified by the networks system. Since sensor network conditions undergo constant changes; network monitoring alone may not be sufficient to identify network faults. Therefore, fault detection techniques need to be in place to detect potential faults in the network. 
  • Fault Diagnosis – In this layer, the detected faults are properly identified by the network system and distinguished from the other irrelevant or spurious alarms. Fault diagnosis include fault isolation (where is the fault located), fault identification (what is the type of detected fault), and root cause analysis (what has caused the fault). The diagnosis description model in fault management architecture provides the services to identify the exact source of the fault. 
  • Fault Recovery – Fault recovery is an important layer of fault management architecture, where an attempt is made to eliminate and minimize the effects of faults. After fault detection and fault diagnosis; it is seen in fault recovery that how faults can be treated. In the events of faulty sensor-nodes the sensor network is reconfigured in such a way that failures or faulty nodes do not bring further impact on the network performance. 

Challenges in Fault Management for WSNs

WSNs introduce new challenges for fault management, as WSNs are inherently fault-prone due to resource limitation and shared wireless communication medium of sensor-nodes. Therefore, sensor network faults cannot be approached in the same way, as in traditional wired or wireless network due to the following reasons:

  • Traditional wired network protocol are not concerned with the energy consumptions as they are constantly powered and wireless ad hoc networks are also rechargeable regularly.
  • Traditional network protocols aim to achieve point-to-point reliability, whereas WSNs are more concerned with reliable event detection.
  • Faults occur more frequently in WSNs than in traditional networks, where client machine, servers and routers are assumed to operate normally.

Researchers have adopted different criteria to evaluate fault management solutions by themselves. To the best of our knowledge, in the reported literature, there is no uniform evaluation criterion described for fault management approaches and schemes in WSNs. In our early work published in, we have identified the following design criteria for the development of efficient fault management architecture for WSNs. These design considerations are very important due to the fact that the unique characteristics and restrictions of WSNs make the fault management approaches different from the traditional wireless networks. This section, discuss some of the most important design issues and requirement for the developing of efficient fault management solutions for WSNs.


Energy-Efficiency – As mentioned earlier, energy-efficiency is one of the crucial design challenges in WSNs. Because sensor-nodes have limited battery and keeping the nodes active all the time will limit the lifetime of sensor-node. In addition, recharging or replacing the battery is also not desirable for most of WSNs application. Therefore, fault management solutions should be energy-efficient.

Unified Design – For adequate fault-tolerance, faults occurred in sensor network should be properly detected, diagnosed and then isolated or recovered. Therefore, efficient fault management architecture should have a unified design with a more holistic approach. That is it should provide comprehensive solutions for all the three phase of fault management i.e. fault detection, diagnosis and recovery.

Light-weight Operations – It is the third important design requirement to be considered by a fault management system. Sensor-nodes in WSNs are generally operating with very tight resources. Conventional distributed approaches are normally heavyweight and therefore unsuitable for WSNs. Therefore, fault management solutions designed should be able to run on sensor-nodes without consuming too much energy or memory. Thus light-weight operations will prolong the network lifetime.

Self-Configuration and Autonomy – WSNs are often deployed in hostile and unattended environments. In many applications external human intervention is not possible while abnormal conditions such as faults, topology or environmental changes appear. Therefore, a fault management system should have the capability to self-configure and autonomously adapt to the dynamic of the network.


Summary 
Concerning the energy-efficiency and fault-tolerance of a sensor networks, fault management has been identified as one of the core challenges in WSNs. Proper implementation of fault management can keep the network running at an optimum level and minimize the risk of failure, and consequently, make the network more fault-tolerant and maximize its lifetime. Furthermore, the fault management architecture should take into account the resource limitations of sensor-networks, and should address the problems in existing fault management approaches for WSNs.

Conference Papers

[1] M. Z. Khan, M. Merabti, and B. Askwith, "Design Considerations for Fault Management in Wireless Sensor Networks," in Proc. of the 10th Annual PGNET'09 Conference, LJMU, Liverpool, UK, June 2009, pp. 3-9.

[2] M. Z. Khan, M. Merabti, B. Askwith, and F. Bouhafs, "A Fault-Tolerant Network Management Architecture for Wireless Sensor Networks," presented at the 11th Annual PGNet 2010 Conference, LJMU, Liverpool, UK, June 2010.

[3] M. Z. Khan, B. Askwith, F. Bouhafs, and M. Asim, "Limitations of Simulation Tools for Large-Scale Wireless Sensor Networks," presented at the IEEE Workshops of International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications (WAINA), Biopolis, Singapore, March 2011.

[4] M. Asim, Hala.Mokhtar, M. Z. Khan, and M. Merabti, "A Sensor Relocation Scheme for Wireless Sensor Networks," presented at the IEEE Workshops of International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications (WAINA), Biopolis, Singapore, March 2011.

[5] I. Khan, M. Z. Khan, N. Jabeur, and H. Mokhtar, "An Overview of the Impact of Wireless Sensor Networks in Medical Healthcare," presented at the 1st International Conference on Computers and Information Technology (ICCIT’2012), Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia, March 2012.

[6] I. M. Khan, M. Z. Khan, H. Mokhtar, and M. Merabti, "Enhancements of the Self-Detection Scheme for Boundary Recognition in Wireless Sensor Networks," presented at the 4th Int. Conference on Development in eSystem Engineering (DeSE'11), Dubai, December 2011.

[7] M. Z. Khan, M. Merabti, B. Askwith, and F. Bouhafs, "A Zone-Based Hierarchical Framework and clustering Scheme for Energy-Efficient Wireless Sensor Networks," presented at the IFIP and IEEE: The Wireless Days 2012, Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 2012.

Journals

[1] M. Z. Khan and I. M. Khan, "A Research Based Review of Wireless Sensor Networks," Annals. Computer Science Series, vol. 9, p. 16, Dec. 2011.

[2] K. M. Zahid, A. Muhammad, and K. M. Ijaz, "An Overview of Hierarchical Schemes for Fault Management in Wireless Sensor Networks," Journal of Computer Science and Control Systems (JCSCS), vol. 5, pp. 43-48, May. 2012.

[3] B. S. Umar and K. M. Zahid, "Implementation of Signal Processing in Stereo-Scopic Active Sonar Using Heterodyne System," Journal of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (JEEE), vol. 5, p. 6, Oct. 2012.

[4] M. Z. Khan, M. Asim, and I. M. Khan, "Centralized Schemes of Fault Management in Wireless Sensor Networks," GESJ: Computer Science and Telecommunications vol. 4, pp. 66-75, Dec. 2012.

[5] M. Z. Khan, "Fault Management in Wireless Sensor Networks," GESJ: Computer Science and Telecommunications, vol. 1, p. 15, Apr. 2013.

[6]  Muhammad Asim, Hala Mokhtar, Muhammad Zahid Khan, " An energy efficient management scheme for wireless sensor networks,"  International Journal of Critical Computer-Based Systems, Vol.6, pp.133-153, September, 2015. 


Books 

General Articles

Project completed in my BCS (Session 1999-2003)

A Final Year BCS Project: "Network Timer Server for STC University of Peshawar".

Teaching 

Teaching at undergraduate (BS) and postgraduate (MS/Ph.D.) level
Supervision of MSc and BS projects


Previous Teaching included: Data Communication and Networking, Web Programming, Operating Systems, Database, E-Commerce and Computer Architecture. 


  • MS/M.Phil & Ph.D: Advance Networking
  • BCS & BIT: Data Communication & Networking, Network Strategie
  • M.Sc: Artificial Intelligence. and Data Communication and Networking

Bachelor and Master students' projects and supervision

As part of my teaching, I am supervising bachelor and master students' projects. 


  •  Farhat Ullah & Akram Khan (BSIT-2016, CSIT Department) - "UOM Campus Internetwork Design, Configuration, and Implementation Using Packet Tracer Simulator". (Completed - Oct. 2016)
  •  Faryal Yousaf (BCS 2012-16, CSIT Dept.)" Design and Implementation of a VLAN Based Networking Solution for a Five Star Hotel Scenario". (Completed - Oct. 2016)
  • Shahid Sarwar & Idress Khan (BCS-2015, CS&IT Department) - " Implementation of Peer to Peer VPN into MPLS using GNS-3 Simulator". (Completed, Oct. 2015)
  • Ziab Rahim & Shahid (BCS-2014, CSIT Dept.) - "A Card Based Security System for University of Malakand". (Completed - Oct. 2014)
  • Rafiullah Khan & M. Khurram (BIT - 2013, CS&IT Department) - " Online eShopping Cart System". (Completed - March 2014)
  • Waqar Ahmad & Dildar Syed (MSc - 2013, CS&IT Department) - " Online Course Management System for University of Malakand". (Completed - March 2014)