This paper addresses the formal conditions underlying the autonomous emergence of a network hierarchy in large mobile networks under multihop, broadcast communication. The presence of a hierarchical structure is demonstrated as a viable means to support node cooperation, while keeping controlled the communication overhead. The proposed strategy for the creation of a network hierarchy relies on a multilevel approach, where each node broadcasts information over a distance (in hops) related to its hierarchical level. The hierarchical relationships among nodes were purposely chosen to be loose, so as to be reactive to the dynamical changes imposed by mobility to the network topology. A theoretical framework for the hierarchical network formation/maintenance is presented, while a fully distributed procedure for its emergence is proposed. In addition, simulation results on the convergence properties of the procedure are provided.
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