Winter 2018 CS217A Syllabus

CS217A focuses on mastering the existing core set of Internet protocols, including IP, several transport protocols, routing protocols, and DNS. A list of protocol specifications (RFCs) will be used as the basic teaching material. Through detailed examinations of these protocols, our goal is to understand their functional requirements and the basic principles behind their designs, to appreciate their design tradeoffs, and to learn the lessons from their operations. A good understanding of the existing Internet protocol suite can help advanced undergraduate students better trained for industry, help engineers gain further insights into the operational Internet, and help graduate students lay a solid foundation for their research into networking area and distributed systems in general.

In parallel with the discussion of the existing TCP/IP architecture, in this quarter we will also provide a basic introduction to Named Data Networking (NDN), a newly proposed Internet architecture that has been under active development since 2010. Students are encouraged to learn more about NDN beyond the class coverage by carrying out term projects, which they can continue into CS217B in spring quarter, and/or further develop into MS capstone projects.

Flipped Classroom

Following the successful trial during winter 2017 quarter, we will carry out this course in a “flipped classroom” format. Thanks to the MSOL program, all the CS217A lectures from winter 2016 were recorded and made available to this class as well. Students will watch the lectures as part of the weekly homework assignments and conduct discussions in class, based on a set of questions extracted from the lecture material and beyond.

Depending on the enrollment size, the class may be divided into a few groups to discuss a set of questions given by the instructor; the students are also highly encouraged to bring up discussion questions before each class (which can lead to extra credits). The discussion results of each group should be documented in a short weekly report, submitted to the instructor by Friday each week.

Let us work together to make the learning more exciting and interesting to everyone.

Weekly Assignments


The final course grading will be spread out in the following way: There is no final exam. The midterm will use essay-style questions designed to test the students' understanding of the network protocols and their design principles covered in the readings and discussed in class.

Different from previous quarters, every student is expected to carry out a term project, either solo or with a team of 2-3 students (teams of larger sizes are discouraged as the past experience suggests they tend to result in unequal workload among the students). Those who plan to take CS217A only should carefully pick a topic that is feasible to wrap in within a quarter; others who plan to take CS217B can carry their projects into spring quarter to finish.