This paper is concerned with energy-efficient routing in wireless sensor networks. Most of the existing routing schemes assign energy-related costs to network links and obtain the shortest paths for the nodes to balance the flowing traffic within the network and increase its lifetime. However, the optimal link cost values and the maximum achievable lifetime are not known for the majority of the existing schemes. A framework is provided in this work to analytically derive the best achievable performance that can be obtained by any distributed routing algorithm based on the shortest-path approach.
Given a network configuration and an energy consumption model, the presented framework provides the optimal link cost assignment which yields the maximum lifetime in a distributed shortest-path routing strategy. The results are extended to the case of variable link cost assignment as well. A heuristic algorithm is also developed to obtain approximate solutions to the best performance problem with limited computational complexity. In particular, the proposed framework provides the optimal route selection as a benchmark to evaluate the energy efficiency of existing routing algorithms.