STEP: A Time-Efficient Tag Searching Protocol in Large RFID Systems

Xuan Liu, Bin Xiao, Shigeng Zhang, Kai Bu, Alvin Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is greatly revolutionizing applications such as warehouse management and inventory control in retail industry. In large RFID systems, an important and practical issue is tag searching: Given a particular set of tags called wanted tags, tag searching aims to determine which of them are currently present in the system and which are not. As an RFID system usually contains a large number of tags, the intuitive solution that collects IDs of all the tags in the system and compares them with the wanted tag IDs to obtain the result is highly time inefficient. In this paper, we design a novel technique called testing slot, with which a reader can quickly figure out which wanted tags are absent from its interrogation region without tag ID transmissions. The testing slot technique thus greatly reduces transmission overhead during the searching process. Based on this technique, we propose two protocols to perform time-efficient tag searching in practical large RFID systems containing multiple readers. In our protocols, each reader first employs the testing slot technique to obtain its local searching result by iteratively eliminating wanted tags that are absent from its interrogation region. The local searching results of readers are then combined to form the final searching result. The proposed protocols outperform existing solutions in both time efficiency and searching precision. Simulation results show that, compared with the state-of-the-art solution, our best protocol reduces execution time by up to 60 percent, meanwhile promotes the searching precision by nearly an order of magnitude.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7018063
Pages (from-to)3265-3277
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • multiple reader
  • RFID system
  • tag searching
  • testing slot
  • time-efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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