Overview of time synchronization for iot deployments: Clock discipline algorithms and protocols

Hüseyin Yiğitler*, Behnam Badihi, Riku Jäntti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to change the everyday life of its users by enabling data exchanges among pervasive things through the Internet. Such a broad aim, however, puts prohibitive constraints on applications demanding time-synchronized operation for the chronological ordering of information or synchronous execution of some tasks, since in general the networks are formed by entities of widely varying resources. On one hand, the existing contemporary solutions for time synchronization, such as Network Time Protocol, do not easily tailor to resource-constrained devices, and on the other, the available solutions for constrained systems do not extend well to heterogeneous deployments. In this article, the time synchronization problems for IoT deployments for applications requiring a coherent notion of time are studied. Detailed derivations of the clock model and various clock relation models are provided. The clock synchronization methods are also presented for different models, and their expected performance are derived and illustrated. A survey of time synchronization protocols is provided to aid the IoT practitioners to select appropriate components for a deployment. The clock discipline algorithms are presented in a tutorial format, while the time synchronization methods are summarized as a survey. Therefore, this paper is a holistic overview of the available time synchronization methods for IoT deployments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5928
Number of pages58
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Capillary networks
  • Clock discipline algorithms
  • Clock synchronization
  • Internet of things
  • Time synchronization protocols
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • IoT


Dive into the research topics of 'Overview of time synchronization for iot deployments: Clock discipline algorithms and protocols'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this