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CS856 - Advanced Topics in Distributed Systems:

Internet Transport Performance

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Term: Spring 2004
Instructor: Martin Karsten
Class Times and Locations: Wed, 1:30-4:30pm, DC3313

Course Description

Internet technology provides a highly flexible communication platform that has the potential to replace existing networks, such as the current telephone network, while offering ubiquitous access to additional communication services at the same time. There is also a trend to apply Internet technology to new scenarios (such as mobile end systems) that are not necessarily handled well by the original design.

Some of the key challenges for the future evolution of the Internet are the provision of controllable performance assurances, service discrimination, and service reliability. To achieve a high level of transport service reliability, similar to the telephone network, while also allowing for appropriate differentiation to efficiently support multiple communication applications within a single network infrastructure, additional control elements have to be inserted at appropriate places in the Internet architecture. The nature, placement, and detailed design of such control elements are the subject of an ongoing debate throughout the academic and industrial research community.

This course covers the state of the art in different aspects of Internet transport performance, ranging from packet scheduling and congestion control to routing, resilience, and network architecture, taking into account the requirements of fixed and mobile end systems.

Course Organization

The first classes are mainly lecture style classes covering background material on the course topics. Subsequent classes take the form of discussions of research papers and the ongoing course projects. Towards the end of the term, classes consist of seminars where students present the results of their course projects.


From the School's web page:

Graduate courses assume a background of at least third-year Honours Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and a similar level of mathematical maturity. Students lacking this background will be asked to acquire this material in addition to the other requirements of the program.

Also, students considering the course should have taken and enjoyed a computer networks course (CS 456/656 or equivalent).

Course Outline, Presentation Slides, and Reading List

We will rotate through a number of topics and cover each topic twice. During the first round, there will be a lecture and we will discuss historical and background material. During the second round, we will discuss selected papers presenting recent research proposals.

See here for a detailed outline.

Course Projects

A list of sample project ideas will be distributed during the first class, but students are also welcome to propose their own projects. Projects should consist of literature research and some practical component, such as a simulation study or prototype implementation/experimentation.

Draft timeline for project work:


Grading will be computed using the following weighting scheme:

Class Participation
Paper Summaries
Project Proposal (incl. Proposal Presentation)
Course Project (incl. Final Presentation)
Project Paper Reviews

Avoidance of Academic Offenses

Students are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their actions. Students who are unsure whether an action constitutes an offense, or who need help in learning how to avoid offenses (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about "rules" for group work / collaboration should seek guidance from the course professor, TA, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean.

For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy #71, Student Academic Discipline, http://www.adm.uwaterloo.ca/infosec/Policies/policy71.html

Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance, http://www.adm.uwaterloo.ca/infosec/Policies/policy70.html

Other Resources

Last updated: May 26, 2004