Marco Zimmerling

I'm an independent research group leader at TU Dresden, where I'm heading the Networked Embedded Systems Group within the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden. My research focuses on reliable and efficient wireless communication and runtime systems for building dependable cyber-physical systems.

I completed my PhD at ETH Zurich in the Computer Engineering Group of Lothar Thiele. During my PhD, I collaborated externally with Olaf Landsiedel from Chalmers University, Luca Mottola from Politenico di Milano and SICS Swedish ICT, and Thiemo Voigt from Uppsala University and SICS Swedish ICT. I hold a diploma degree in computer science from TU Dresden. For working on my diploma thesis, I visited the Networked Embedded Systems Group of Thiemo Voigt at SICS Swedish ICT and the Communications Research Group group of Per Gunningberg at Uppsala University. Taking a break from my studies, I interned at IBM for more than a year, including a six-month stay at the T.J. Watson Research Center.

Besides research, I enjoy my three kids, running, fishing, cooking, hiking, and reading books.


Feb 15, 2017

I am co-organizing the Workshop on Resilient Systems at TU Dresden (supported by cfaed) featuring a great list of keynote speakers. Registration is now open.

Feb 7, 2017

I received the 2016 EDAA Outstanding Dissertation Award for my PhD thesis End-to-end Predictability and Efficiency in Low-power Wireless Networks.

Dec 1, 2016

Happy to teach Networked Embedded Systems as part of the lecture series Introduction to Computer Engineering.

Oct 25, 2016

The code of Staffetta is now available on GitHub. For details on Staffetta's smart duty-cycling mechanism for opportunistic data collection, see our SenSys'15 paper.

Oct 24, 2016

Our paper on adaptive real-time communication for wireless cyber-physical systems has been accepted to ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems.

July 18, 2016

Our paper on smart duty cycling for opportunistic data collection in low-power wireless networks has been accepted to SenSys'16.

July 15, 2016

Our paper on providing end-to-end real-time communication guarantees in wireless cyber-physical systems has been accepted to RTSS'16.

Honors and Awards


My research interests are at the intersection of embedded systems and wireless networking. Overall, I aim at designing, building, and validating reliable and efficient wireless communication and runtime systems that provide predictability and dependability for emerging cyber-physical systems (CPS). My projects include:

Primitives based on Synchronous Transmissions. In multi-hop low-power wireless networks, Glossy sends a packet from one node to all others within a few milliseconds and at a reliability close to 100%, while synchronizing all nodes to within sub-microsecond accuracy. Glossy achieves this by taking advantage of packet collisions rather than fighting against them. It deliberately forces multiple nodes to send the same packet at nearly the same time, thus exploiting the capture effect and constructive interference for reliable packet reception without maintaining network state information. By integrating programmable in-network processing with synchronous transmissions, Chaos shares data among all nodes in a network (e.g., for consensus and data aggregation) up to 23x faster than prior approaches. [IPSN'11, SenSys'13]

Communication Protocols and Architectures. Modern control systems use wired busses (e.g., FlexRay) for predictability and fault tolerance. LWB implements a shared bus for low-power wireless by using globally scheduled Glossy floods for all communication. As a result, LWB supports several traffic patterns and is resilient to changes in the network state, while outperforming the state of the art in energy and reliability across a broad spectrum of scenarios. Built on top of LWB, VIRTUS is the first protocol to provide atomic multicast and view management in resource-constrained low-power wireless networks. The resulting virtually synchronous operation greatly simplifies the design of dependable applications by replicating, for example, the state of the controller in a CPS application across multiple nodes. [SenSys'12, SRDS'13]

Emerging Networked Embedded Platforms. Bolt is an ultra-low power processor interconnect that decouples two arbitrary processors with respect to their time, power, and clock domains. Bolt provides asynchronous message passing with predictable timing characteristics between both processors. Thus, by avoiding or bounding the interference on shared resources, Bolt allows system designers to construct highly-customized heterogeneous platforms that are easier to design, implement, debug, and maintain than platforms with one processor or multiple processors interconnected by a shared bus/memory. [SenSys'15]

Protocol Modeling. Models play an important role in the design, adaptation, and verification of CPS. But accurately modeling link-based multi-hop protocols is difficult as their operation depends on the ever-changing network state and links exhibit complex packet reception statistics. We showed that synchronous transmissions in Glossy simplify modeling: the protocol logic can be decoupled from the network state (network state independence), and, unlike link-based transmissions, packet receptions and losses largely adhere to a sequence of i.i.d. Bernoulli trials, even when the packets are very close in time (statistical independence of packet transmissions). We were thus able to model, for example, the energy cost of LWB with a simple DTMC, obtaining model errors that are within 0.25% from real measurements. [MASCOTS'13]

Runtime Adaptation. Deployed low-power wireless systems are exposed to unpredictable link, topology, and traffic dynamics. pTunes adapts parameters of a low-power MAC protocol against such changes to satisfy given application requirements on network lifetime, end-to-end latency, and end-to-end reliability. pTunes leverages accurate protocol models and constraint programming to determine optimized MAC parameters at a central controller. To close the loop, pTunes uses Glossy to collect consistent information about the network state and to quickly and reliably disseminate optimized parameter values in the network. pTunes achieves severalfold improvements in network lifetime over MAC parameters optimized for specific traffic loads, while satisfying given end-to-end application requirements. [IPSN'12, tech report]

Real Deployment. We built a wireless nurse call system based on LWB and push buttons attached to battery-powered nodes. We successfully deployed the system during a summer camp for teenagers with muscular dystrophy, organized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Switzerland. [SenSys'13]

Selected Publications

Full Publication List

Selected Talks

Open Source

I try to open source my work whenever possible:

Student Projects

Looking for a bachelor or master thesis project in low-power wireless networking, embedded systems, or wireless communications? I have several exciting topics available at TU Dresden and am happy to discuss your own project proposal. Please drop me an email or stop by my office if you are interested.

Currently, I have the pleasure to work with the following students:

In the past, I had the opportunity to work with the following students and interns:


At TU Dresden, I teach Networked Embedded Systems as part of the lecture series Introduction to Computer Engineering in fall 2016.

At ETH Zurich, I served as teaching assistant for the following lectures:


Email: marco zimmerling at
Phone: +49 351 463 43728
Fax: +49 351 463 39995

Visiting Address:
TU Dresden
Networked Embedded Systems Group
Georg-Schumann-Str. 11, BAR I-56
01187 Dresden

Mailing Address:
TU Dresden
cfaed – S7A
01062 Dresden, Germany

© 2011-17 Marco Zimmerling
Template design by Andreas Viklund | Photograph by Monica Tarocco