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Computer networks are the fabric that connects our information society. To achieve the ubiquity, scalability, and performance of today's Internet, numerous challenges have to be addressed. In this course, we will explore the concepts that build the foundation of current computer networks. We will see that there are a number of different techniques that can be employed to investigate and solve such research problems. The goal is to expose you to broad range of topics that are interesting to graduate students in the networking area as well as to those whose focus is in other areas.

The skills that will be emphasized in this course are both of theoretical and practical nature. I expect that students read a book chapter and several related research papers per week and be able to contribute meaningfully to the in-class discussion. Technical writing skills for writing assignments and lab reports are expected.

Course Goals

  • You will learn how networks and their components interact and operate.
  • You will identify the main challenges in networking and discover how they are solved.
  • You will explore different techniques that are employed in networking research.
  • You will develop practical networking skills through the lab assignments.
  • You will hone your skills of reading technical papers.

Course Components

There are several components to this course:

  • Lectures and Reading Assignments
  • Homework Assignments
  • Lab Assignments
  • Final Project

Lectures and Reading Assignments

The lecture time will be used for traditional lecture-style presentations and in-class discussions of the assigned reading material. You are expected to have read the assigned material and be able to answer simple questions about it. If you have questions about the material, you are welcome to ask those during lectures or in office hours.

Homework Assignments

There will be short homework assignments between lectures. These assignments will be available through the SPARK website and must be answered online. The deadline for each homework is the beginning of the next lecture.

Lab Assignments

This course requires that you complete four lab projects. We will use an online system, the Open Network Laboratory (ONL), for some of the lab assignments. You will need to complete the assigned tasks for each lab exercise and submit a lab report. The lab report grade will be based on the correctness of your results, the quality of your experimental work, and the overall presentation. A rubric will be provided at the time of the assignment.

Final Project

For the final project, you may select between a writing assignment and a lab project. The exact topic of either will be discussed on an individual basis to ensure a suitable challenge:

  • Writing Assignment: The assignment is to write a 6-page conference-quality paper that surveys a topic in computer networks (details will be announced in class). The grading will be based on a rubric, which will be made available to you at the time of the assignment. Your submission must adhere to the formatting and style guidelines provided.
  • Lab Project: The lab project aims at developing a novel prototype system, protocol, experiment, or similar and providing a brief technical report. The grading will be based on the quality of the development and the technical report.


There will be three exams. The exams will be held during class meetings.


The grading will be determined by weighing each course component as follows:

  • Exam I: 20%
  • Exam II: 20%
  • Exam III : 20%
  • Homework assignments 10%
  • Lab assignments 20%
  • Final project 10%

The final grade will be norm-referenced (i.e., "curved").


To manage homework assignment, lab report submissions, and grades, SPARK ( will be used (OIT login required).

Late / Make-Up Policy

Assignments are due as posted on the course web page (or stated in the syllabus). Late submissions will not be accepted unless by prior arrangement with the instructor. Scheduling conflicts regarding exams should be reported to the instructor immediately. In case of a medical emergency, late submission or a make-up exam can be requested if a note from a medical professional is provided. The note must indicate that the student was medically incapable at the time of the exam. If advanced notice is possible and not given, the instructor may refuse the request. 

Academic Integrity

Consultation with fellow students is encouraged. However, directly copying another student's work (past or present) defeats the purpose of the assignments and exams and is an honor code violation. Unless otherwise noted, you are expected to complete all assignment individually. Violations will result in serious penalties including course failure and possible disciplinary action. If in doubt, please consult the instructor or the official UMass guidelines regarding academic honesty (