CS239: Web and Mobile Systems, Winter 2019

Instructor: Ravi Netravali
TA: Lana Ramjit
Lectures: Monday/Wednesday 4pm-5:50pm in 9436 Boelter Hall
Office Hours

  • Ravi: by appointment (ravi@cs.ucla.edu)

  • TA: by appointment (lana@cs.ucla.edu)

Course Overview

Web and mobile applications are a primary way for users to access critical services and content. In addition to traditional web pages, these end-to-end applications are now used to support a wide range of services including video streaming, video conferencing, IoT tasks, machine learning pipelines (e.g., for image/video analytics), etc. This course will explore the systems and networking techniques that enable these end-to-end applications to remain performant, reliable, secure, and bug-free, as they support richer and more complex tasks.


  • 15% Participation in paper discussions

  • 15% Paper summaries

  • 20% Paper presentation

  • 50% Final project (report and presentation)

Paper Summaries

This course will be largely based on research papers. Prior to each class, students will be expected to read the listed research paper(s) and write up a summary for each. Paper summaries should include the following components:

  • Paper summary (1 paragraph) including what problem the paper tackles, and how it does so

  • Potential limitations of the solution (e.g., are any assumptions too general? are there scenarios where the proposed solution does not work?)

  • Potential extensions (e.g., ways to support more scenarios, other domains/applications where the proposed solution could be useful)

  • Any questions about the paper, or the general topic

Paper summaries should be submitted using this form, and are due by 10pm the night before each class. Students may skip paper summaries for up to 4 papers without any penalty.

Paper Presentations

For each paper, one (or more, depending on enrollment) student will be expected to present the paper and lead the discussion for it. Presentations should be “conference style”, and describe the domain and relevant background for the paper, the problem statement and challenges, the solution, results, and potential limitations and improvements. Non-presenters are expected to actively participate in the post-presentation discussions. Active participation will lead to a lively discussion that will benefit everyone.

Research Project

In addition to paper reading, this course will also include a quarter-long research project. Students will carry out projects in groups of 2 (or more, depending on enrollment). The scope of acceptable topics is quite large–anything related to web systems or mobile apps will work. However, projects should aim high, improving a prior system or generating a new solution to a challenge, rather than re-implementing a previously proposed technique. I expect multiple projects to turn into high quality conference paper submissions. It is encouraged to begin thinking about project topics early on in the quarter by reviewing the reading list/topics, and discussing with the staff. The deliverables for the project are:

  • Meet with the staff to discuss potential project directions (in class on Wednesday, January 23)

  • Project proposal (2-3 pages), which describes the high-level problem you are tackling, related work, your proposed solution, and implementation plan (due Monday, February 4)

  • Project presentations (20 minute in-class presentations between March 6 and March 13)

  • Final report (6 pages) detailing the problem, challenges, design of your solution, results, and related work, in the Usenix conference paper format (due Wednesday, March 20 by 10pm).