Fast Tracking the Population of Key Tags in Large-Scale Anonymous RFID Systems

Xiulong Liu, Xin Xie, Keqiu Li, Bin Xiao, Jie Wu, Heng Qi, Dawei Lu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


In large-scale radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled applications, we sometimes only pay attention to a small set of key tags, instead of all. This paper studies the problem of key tag population tracking, which aims at estimating how many key tags in a given set exist in the current RFID system and how many of them are absent. Previous work is slow to solve this problem due to the serious interference replies from a large number of ordinary (i.e., non-key) tags. However, time-efficiency is a crucial metric to the studied key tag tracking problem. In this paper, we propose a singleton slot-based estimator, which is time-efficient, because the RFID reader only needs to observe the status change of expected singleton slots corresponding to key tags instead of the whole time frame. In practice, the ratio of key tags to all current tags is small, because key members are usually rare. As a result, even when the whole time frame is long, the number of expected singleton slots is limited and the running of our protocol is very fast. To obtain good scalability in large-scale RFID systems, we exploit the sampling idea in the estimation process. A rigorous theoretical analysis shows that the proposed protocol can provide guaranteed estimation accuracy to end users. Extensive simulation results demonstrate that our scheme outperforms the prior protocols by significantly reducing the time cost.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7509679
Pages (from-to)278-291
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • cardinality estimation
  • Key RFID tags
  • population tracking
  • time-efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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