MCS-377: Networking (Fall 2008)


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) from 12:30-1:20 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as 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. (I already know that I will not hold office hours on September 8th, October 7th, and December 1st.)

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, 4th ed., by James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross, Addison-Wesley, 2008. You will also read some of the professional literature as part of the homework.


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 lab as shown in the syllabus.

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. The reason why I won't write much on the work I turn back to you is because I would like to talk with you face-to-face. If a problem needs more work, 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, attached to (or clearly marked on) the original. 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.

Homework problems may be turned in at any time up until the start of class on October 6th for chapters 1-3, November 10th for chapters 4-5, and December 12th for Chapters 6-8.

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. You will take the first exam on any of October 7th through 9th and the second exam on either November 11th or 12th. For each exam, you will be able to sign a test paper out for an hour and a half of your own choice. 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.)


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 report; this can be in the form of a “minority opinion” or “dissenting opinion” section where appropriate.

You are expected to be familiar with the college academic honesty honor code policy and to comply with that policy. If you have any questions about it, please ask.

Late lab assignments

All lab reports are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Late reports will be penalized by one “grade notch” (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction thereof.

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.


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.


If you have a learning, psychological, or physical disability for which a reasonable accommodation can be made, I would be happy to refer you to the college's disability services coordinator, and to cooperate in the accommodation process. It is generally best if this can be done as soon as possible.


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.

9/41.0-1.4Introduction, part 2
9/51.5-1.8Introduction, part 3

9/8No class
9/92.0-2.2Application layer and HTTP
9/112.3-2.4FTP and email

9/152.6P2P filesharing
9/162.7-2.9Socket programming
9/18Socket programming, continued
9/19Lab 1: Application layer

9/22Lab 1
9/233.0-3.3Transport layer and UDP
9/253.4.0-3.4.2Reliable data transfer
9/263.4.3-3.5.3TCPLab 1

9/293.5.4-3.5.6TCP, continued
9/303.6-3.7.0Congestion control
10/23.7.1-3.8TCP congestion control
10/3Lab 2: Transport layer

10/6Review, catch-upHW rewrites (1-3)
10/7No class (attend Nobel Conference)
10/9No class: test schedulable
10/10Lab 2

10/134.0-4.3Network layer and routers
10/164.4.3-4.4.4ICMP and IPv6
10/174.5.0-4.5.1Link-state routingLab 2

10/20No class (reading day)
10/21No class (reading day)
10/23No class
10/24Lab 3: Network layer

10/274.5.2-4.5.3Distance-vector routing
10/284.6Internet routing
10/304.7-4.8Multicast routing
10/31Lab 3

11/35.0-5.3Multiple access protocolsLab 3
11/65.6-5.7Link-layer switches and PPP
11/75.8-5.9Office hour instead of class

11/10Review, catch-upHW rewrites (4-5)
11/11No class: test schedulable

11/176.4-6.9Cellular and mobility
11/18No class
11/21Lab 4: Mobility

11/24Lab 4
11/258.3-8.4Integrity and authentication
11/27No class (Thanksgiving)
11/28No class (Thanksgiving)

12/1No class
12/28.5-8.6Application and transport layer security
12/48.7-8.8Network and link layer security
12/5Lab 4

12/88.9-8.10Operational securityLab 4
12/9Political/societal security: the "Great Firewall of China"
12/11Gustavus networking tour
12/12Review, catch-up, evaluationHW rewrites (6,8)

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>