Traditionally, nodes in a sensor network simply collect data and then pass it on to a centralized node that archives, distributes, and possibly analyzes the data. However, analysis at the individual nodes could enable faster detection of anomalies or other interesting events as well as faster responses, such as sending out alerts or increasing the data collection rate. There is an additional opportunity for increased performance if learners at individual nodes can communicate with their neighbors. In previous work, methods were developed by which classification algorithms deployed at sensor nodes can communicate information about event labels to each other, building on prior work with co-training, self-training, and active learning. The idea of “collaborative” learning was extended to function for clustering algorithms as well, similar to ideas from penta-training and consensus clustering. However, collaboration between these learner types had not been explored.

A new protocol was developed by which classifiers and clusterers can share key information about their observations and conclusions as they learn. This is an active collaboration in which learners of either type can query their neighbors for information that they then use to re-train or re-learn the concept they are studying. The protocol also supports broadcasts from the classifiers and clusterers to the rest of the network to announce new discoveries.

Classifiers observe an event and assign it a label (type). Clusterers instead group observations into clusters without assigning them a label, and they collaborate in terms of pairwise constraints between two events [same-cluster (mustlink) or different-cluster (cannot-link)]. Fundamentally, these two learner types speak different languages. To bridge this gap, the new communication protocol provides four types of exchanges: hybrid queries for information, hybrid “broadcasts” of learned information, each specified for classifiers-to-clusterers, and clusterers-to-classifiers.

The new capability has the potential to greatly expand the in situ analysis abilities of sensor networks. Classifiers seeking to categorize incoming data into different types of events can operate in tandem with clusterers that are sensitive to the occurrence of new kinds of events not known to the classifiers. In contrast to current approaches that treat these operations as independent components, a hybrid collaborative learning system can enable them to learn from each other.

This work was done by Kiri L. Wagstaff of Caltech, Scott Sosnowski of Case Western Reserve University, and Terran Lane of the University of New Mexico for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47821