Abstract—We analyze the single and multi-hop performance of time synchronization mechanisms for challenging environments characterized by high propagation delays, low duty-cycle operation, and imprecise clocks, such as underwater acoustic sensor networks. We find that receiver-receiver based schemes are unsuitable for such environments, and therefore focus primarily on sender-receiver schemes. According to our analysis, a one-way dissemination approach provides good clock skew estimation but poor offset estimation while a two-way exchange approach provides accurate offset estimation but imprecise clock skew estimation. In average, using one-way scheme can result in significant cumulative propagation error over multiple hops, and using two-way can lead to high variance of propagation error. We develop and analyze a hybrid one-way dissemination/two-way exchange technique, and verify the performance of our hybrid scheme through trace-based experiments. The results suggest that this hybrid approach can provide bounded average error propagation in multi-hop settings and significantly lower variance of propagation error
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