CS 682 Syllabus:

Professor: Chris Brooks
Office: Harney 541
Phone: 422-5221
email: cbrooks@cs.usfca.edu
Office Hours: Mon, Fri 2-3, or by appointment.

Time: MW 5:30-7:15

Place: HR 235

Course Objectives:

Description: Fundamentals of computation in a widely distributed multiple computer environment. Topics include client/server and peer-to-peer paradigms, object and service discovery, many-to-many communication (including multimedia), distributed problem solving and massively multiuser environments.


CS 601 or equivalent. You should be comfortable writing medium-sized programs in a fairly short period of time. You should also feel comfortable reading about and playing with a new software tool.


We will have a total of seven labs throughout the first half of the course. typically, you will receive these on a Monday and have some time in class to work on them. They will be due the following Monday.

You will also have two projects, one assigned by me and one that you choose yourself.

There will also be a midterm and a final. These will fit the standard format: in class, closed book, etc.

Here's how the course will be broken down:
30% labs
30% midterm/final
35% projects (15% proj1, 20% proj2)
5% class participation (this includes both attendance and taking part in class discussion.)

Attendance is mandatory. That includes showing up on time at the start of class. If you need to miss a class for a valid reason, you need to talk with me IN ADVANCE. Lack of attendance will lead to a drop in your grade, or your being dropped from the class altogether.

Text: We will be using a number of different texts from the O'Reilly catalog. Students are required to purchase a subscription to Safari , O'Reilly's online service.

I will also provide you with photocopied chapters from several texts as needed.

Late Policy: 10% taken off for each day your assignment is late, starting at the beginning of class that day. Weekends don't count, so if your assignment is due on a Friday and you turn it in on a Monday, you get 10% off. After 3 days (30% off), the assignment is worth zero - at that point, you're better off moving on to the next assignment rather than getting further behind.

Collaboration: In general, I expect students to behave responsibly and do their own work. I'm willing to assume this is the case until proven wrong. More specifically, it is OK to talk with each other about the general parameters or approach of the assignment. It is NOT OK to share source code, to do part of an assignment for another person, or to directly copy another person't work. If you are unsure as to whether something is considered fair game or not, please ask me and we can discuss it.

A few examples: "On question 4, are we supposed to implement DFS using a priority queue?" This is fine; it's a clarification of the assignment. Feel free to talk about this sort of thing with your classmates.

"I don't understand A*! Can you explain it to me?" Also fine; you're talking about the course material generally; I think students should help each other with this sort of thing - you're great resources for each other.

"Question 3 is really hard. How did you do it?" Now we're getting into a gray area. If you're talking in generalities here ("Well, we have to filter the input, assign utilities to possible states, and select the optimal state") that's fine; you're not telling the other person exactly how to do the assignment, you're just discussing approaches. If you're talking specifics ("Here's the code for calculating expected utility.") then we're moving into unacceptable territory. The question to ask is: does the person I'm talking to still need to think for themselves in order to solve the problem, or have I just given them the entire answer? I strongly recommend erring on the conservative side here; if you're unsure whether you're sharing too much, tell the question-asker that they should talk to me. I'm always happy to help people with problems.

"Can I just look at/use/copy your code?" Definitely not acceptable. Keep in mind that both participants are cheating here; the person who is copying and the person who is allowing their friends to copy. Students that I feel are cheating in this manner (this is cheating) will not be treated nicely.

Also note that using code that you get off the web, from a friend, etc. and turning it in as your own is considered plagiarism, just as if you did it in a paper. This will result in (at least) a zero for that assignment.

Lab topics

Lecture topics

  • intro to distributed systems - network review
  • principles and paradigms
  • fault tolerance, logical clocks
  • liveness, deadlock, message ordering
  • Synchronization: consensus, leader election, consistency, replication
  • CORBA/RPC, distributed objects
  • P2P vs client-server - architecture of P2P systems
  • content distribution, CDN, web caching
  • GRID
  • Large-scale distributed systems - MMPORG, distributed.net, etc
  • distributed problem solving
  • Group communication
  • Multimedia issues
  • multiagent systems - paradigms and approaches
  • cooperative multiagent systems - contract net, coordination problems.
  • Sensor fusion - distributed sensor networks
  • noncooperative multiagent systems - paradigms and approaches
  • Auctions and markets