Syllabus and general information for MCS-394: Networking (Spring 2002)


We will examine several key challenges of networking, such as application-level interoperability, transport-level congestion control, and network-level routing. For each of these challenges, we will examine the specific response embodied in the current Internet protocol suite and the systems implementing it. However, we will also keep an eye out for the broader possibilities for potential future protocols and systems.

Office hours

I will be available in my office (OHS 303) 11:30-12:20 Tuesdays, 1:30-2:20 Wednesdays, 2:30-3:20 Thursdays, 1:30-2:20 Fridays, and by appointment. Or try your luck: just stop by and see whether my door is open. You may send me electronic mail at or call me at extension 7466. I'll try to put any updates to my office hours on my web page, so check there if in doubt.

World Wide Web

All course materials will be available through my World Wide Web page. The URL for this course is After this syllabus I will give hardcopy handouts only to those students who want them.

Text and readings

The primary text for the course will be Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet by James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross, Addison-Wesley, 2001.


There will be four lab assignments. The due dates for the labs are shown in the syllabus below. We'll meet in the OHS 326 or 329 lab as shown in the syllabus (subject to change).

Attendance is expected for all lab days. (If you turn in a lab report early, you are excused from the remaining days devoted to that lab.) I will excuse up to two absences per student, for any reason. Use yours wisely. If you exceed this allowance, I may reduce your course grade by one letter grade.

Homework assignment policy

I will assign homework problems. You may turn in any individual homework problem whenever you think you have it solved. I will return it to you as quickly as I can, but normally with only an indication of whether it is acceptable or needs more work. (Sometimes I may give a brief indication of what area it needs more work in.) If a problem needs more work, and you aren't sure what sort of work it still needs, you should treat that as an invitation to come talk with me about it. Once you've done the additional work, you may turn the problem in again. In fact, you may turn in each problem in as many times as you like, until it is marked as acceptable. Your grade for the homework portion of the course will be based on the fraction of homework problems that you eventually did acceptably.

Normally homework problems may be turned in at any time up until March 15th, for chapters 1 to 3, until 2:30 on April 24, for chapters 4 and 5, and until 2:30 on the last day of classes, for the remainder. However, if we would benefit from discussing a homework problem in class, I may issue a "last call" for solutions to that problem, at least a week in advance.

Unless I indicate that a particular problem must be done individually, you may work on any problem in a group of two or three students. One copy of the solution produced by the team should be turned in, with all team members names on it. Write "we all contributed fairly to this solution" and have all team members sign under that statement.


There will be two intra-term exams and a final exam. You will be given one and a half hours for each intra-term exam. Unless you tell me otherwise, I will assume that you are taking each exam in OHS 321 from 7:00-8:30 pm, with the first exam on March 18th, and the second on April 25th. If these times will not work for you, please contact me to arrange an alternative one and a half hour block of time. The final exam will be as scheduled by the registrar. For each test, you may use one 8.5x11 sheet of handwritten notes. (Both sides of the sheet are OK.)

Field trips

On two occasions, we will examine how networking plays out in actual sites. The first one (a warm up) will be an examination of the Gustavus campus network, which we will do during a normal class period. The second one will involve a more extended time period, as we will be driving up to the Twin Cities in college vans to get a tour of a major Internet application and hosting site. Dates for these trips are shown in the syllabus, but should not be taken seriously. I will poll the class the first week concerning scheduling constraints, and then set up a date for the trip to the Twin Cities based on those constraints. The Gustavus tour may also be rescheduled to maintain the property that it is before the Twin Cities trip.


Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding, not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably dishonorable.

Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary action.

The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the team should be be properly cited.

One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or ``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.

Late lab assignments

All lab assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded assignments are handed back.

If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Grade changes

Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading, and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I have been especially unjust.


I will provide you with a letter grade on each lab assignment and test, in addition to the mid-term and final grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a guideline, the course components will contribute to your final grade in the proportions indicated below:

Style guidelines

All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. Use full English sentences where appropriate (namely almost everywhere) and clear diagrams, programs, etc. Remember that your goal is to communicate clearly, and that the appearance of these technical items plays a role in this communication process. Be sure your assignments are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.


Please contact me immediately if you have a learning or physical disability requiring accommodation.


This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material. However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised syllabi.
2/121.1-1.5Introduction, part 2
2/131.6-1.10Introduction, part 3
2/152.1-2.2Application layer and HTTP

2/18HTTP, continued
2/192.3-2.4FTP and email
2/222.6-2.7Socket programming

2/252.8-2.9Programming example
2/263.1-3.3Transport layer and UDP
2/27Lab 1, in OHS 326
3/1No class

3/43.4Reliable data transfer
3/5Lab 1, in OHS 326
3/83.5.5-3.5.8TCP, continued

3/113.6-3.7.1Congestion controlLab 1
3/12Lab 2, in OHS 329
3/133.7.2-3.8TCP congestion control
3/15Review, catch-up

3/184.1-4.2.1Link state routing
3/19Lab 2, in OHS 329
3/204.2.2-4.3Distance vector routing

3/254.5Internet routing
3/264.6-4.7Routers and IPv6
3/274.8-4.9Multicast routingLab 2

4/85.1-5.2Error detection and correction
4/9Lab 3, in OHS 329

4/155.6-5.7Ethernet boxes and wireless
4/16Lab 3, in OHS 329
4/17Lab 3, in OHS 329
4/195.8-5.9PPP and ATM

4/225.10-5.11Frame relayLab 3
4/23Lab 4, in OHS 326
4/24Review, catch-up
4/266.1-6.2Streaming media

4/30Lab 4, in OHS 326
5/16.5-6.7Quality of service
5/36.8-6.10RSVP and differentiated services

5/7Gustavus networking tour (in class time)
5/8Lab 4, in OHS 326
5/9TLR networking briefing/tour 10:00-4:15
5/107.3-7.4Authentication and integrityLab 4

5/137.5-7.6Key distribution and secure email
5/147.7SSL and SET

5/22Review, catch-up, and evaluation

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>