Note: This unit version has not been officially published yet and is subject to change!

COMP2121: Principles of Distributed Systems and Networks (2017 - Semester 2)

Download UoS Outline

Unit: COMP2121: Principles of Distributed Systems and Networks (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Intermediate
Faculty/School: School of Information Technologies
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Gramoli, Vincent
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: (INFO1103 OR INFO1903) AND (INFO1105 OR INFO1905).
Co-Requisites: COMP2007 OR COMP2907.
Brief Handbook Description: The unit will provide a broad introduction to the principles of distributed systems and their design; provide students the fundamental knowledge required to analyse and construct various types of distributed systems; explain the common architectural principles and approaches used in the design of networks at different scales (e.g. shared medium access and routing); introduce the programming skills required for developing distributed applications, and will cover the use of Java class libraries and APIs; cover common approaches and techniques in distributed resource management (e.g. task scheduling).
Assumed Knowledge: Introductory Java programming unit, Data Structures, Algorithms
Additional Notes: The unit will provide the introductory platform for students interested in more advanced units in the area of distributed systems and networks, such as ELEC3506 (Data Communications and the Internet), COMP5116 (Internet Protocols), COMP5416 (Advanced Network Technologies), and COMP5426 (Parallel and Distributed Computing).
Lecturer/s: Dr Gramoli, Vincent
Timetable: COMP2121 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Tutorial 2.00 1 12
T&L Activities: The lectures will provide the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the material. The lab classes will present more specific examples of particular systems and network protocols in detail, with a focus on the programming aspects of the material.

The use of these complementary modes of delivery will enhance the students` learning experience, by reinforcing the concepts presented in the lectures with practical examples and realisation of solutions to conceptual problems, and by allowing the students to gain hands-on experience with implementing those solutions.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
The tasks and assignments in the unit will provide ample opportunity for students to exercise design and problem solving skills, particularly in the programming tasks that will require development of original solutions. The issue of plagiarism will be addressed. Design (Level 2)
The task and assignment give students opportunities to identify, integrate and synthesise knowledge on distributed systems and programming to solve problems under constraints. Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2)
The students will be given various problems that they will need to solve, requiring research of the appropriate background information using resources such as the university library and the Internet. Students will also be required to understand different types of information and its representation and use in distributed systems, and will be exposed to standards that ensure the consistency and quality of such information. Information Seeking (Level 2)
The students will be required to produce written assignments and reports and develop professional quality, well-documented software that can be understood and reused by other programmers. Communication (Level 2)
The students will become familiar with the ethical issues pertaining to the use of large-scale distributed systems, and will understand the risks involved with the access to and processing of large quantities of information and the importance of its security and privacy. Professional Conduct (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 2)
1. Students will have experience in distributed implementation of algorithms. They will be able to able to apply some common distributed algorithms (e.g. searches, shortest path, trees) towards solving problems.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2)
2. At the end of the course, students will understand the general properties of distributed systems and networks. They should be familiar with various types of distributed applications and how information is shared between components in distributed systems. They will have knowledge of the basic building blocks in distributed systems. They should also understand the functions of resource management and task scheduling and be familiar with standards commonly used in distributed systems and networks, e.g. network protocols and information representation. The students should also understand programming paradigms for distributed systems (e.g. sockets) and be able to apply them in a Java API.
Information Seeking (Level 2)
3. Students will be aware of fundamental constraints and performance metrics of distributed systems and networks. They will understand the layered network model and the functions at each layer, and be familiar with some common realisations of those functions. They will be able to produce good quality distributed software and be aware of professional expectations for such software. They will also be aware of trade-offs arising in distributed systems between system requirements and available resource and cost constraints, and understand how to resolve such trade-offs by prioritizing the system capabilities.
Communication (Level 2)
4. Students will have the experience to produce professional quality written assignments and reports as well as well-documented software for reuse.
Professional Conduct (Level 3)
5. Students will be made aware of the implications of sharing of information and the importance of privacy and security. They will also appreciate the importance of ethical behaviour among users of distributed systems.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Programming Assignment 1 No 10.00 Week 5 2, 3, 4,
2 Mid-Sem Exam No 20.00 Week 7 1, 2,
3 Programming Assignment 2 No 20.00 Week 11 2, 3, 4,
4 Final Exam No 50.00 Exam Period 1, 2, 5,
Assessment Description: The unit will use programming assignments, a mid-term and a final exam.

The mid-semester exam and final exam will test the students’ understanding of the theoretical material and concepts and ability to put it in the appropriate context of solving problems. The programming assignments will enable students to develop and test their practical skills and benchmark them against set criteria.
Assessment Feedback: Marks will be awarded for the assignments and mid-term exam and will reflect the students’ understanding of the assessed material and their ability to apply it in a programming task.

The tutor(s) will encourage interactive learning and provide an opportunity for students to test their understanding in a classroom setting.

The solutions of the assignments will be discussed in the tutorial/lab classes and provide an opportunity for the students to learn by comparing their solutions to the recommended ones.
Grading:
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at http://sydney.edu.au/policies . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Minimum Pass Requirement It is a policy of the School of Information Technologies that in order to pass this unit, a student must achieve at least 40% in the written examination. For subjects without a final exam, the 40% minimum requirement applies to the corresponding major assessment component specified by the lecturer. A student must also achieve an overall final mark of 50 or more. Any student not meeting these requirements may be given a maximum final mark of no more than 45 regardless of their average.
Policies & Procedures: IMPORTANT: School policy relating to Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism.

In assessing a piece of submitted work, the School of IT may reproduce it entirely, may provide a copy to another member of faculty, and/or to an external plagiarism checking service or in-house computer program and may also maintain a copy of the assignment for future checking purposes and/or allow an external service to do so.

Other policies

See the policies page of the faculty website at http://sydney.edu.au/engineering/student-policies/ for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar https://web.timetable.usyd.edu.au/calendar.jsp

Week Description
Week 1 Lecture: Introduction to distributed systems. Goals of the UoS, definition and challenges.
Week 2 Lecture: Concurrency in operating systems. UNIX processes, context switches, Java threads.
Lab: Java multithreading.
Week 3 Lecture: Communication 1/2. Network layers, routing protocols, sockets.
Tutorial: Routing protocols.
Week 4 Lecture: Communication 2/2. TCP/IP, RPC-like mechanisms, Java RMI.
Lab: Java sockets and server implementation.
Week 5 Lecture: Naming. Name spaces, decription of DNS, comparison of distributed file systems.
Lab: Remote Method Invocation.
Assessment Due: Programming Assignment 1
Week 6 Lecture: Synchronization 1/3. Notions of physical time and logical times, network time protocol, logical and vector clocks, leader election.
Tutorial: Network Time Protocol.
Week 7 Lecture: Synchronization 2/3. Leader election. Multicast. Mutual exclusion.
Assessment Due: Mid-Sem Exam
Week 8 Lecture: Consistency. The notion of consistency among entities of a distributed system. Sequential and causal consistencies, database transactions, coherence.
Distributed execution and consistency.
Week 9 Lecture: Synchronization 2/3. Chip-multiprocessor synchronization. Using mutual exclusion, the problems of deadlock and starvation, and transactional memory.
Lab: Java transactional memory.
Week 10 Lecture: Failures. Crash and Byzantine (malicious) failures. Presentation of the fundamental problem of consensus. Description of the two-phase commit (2PC) protocol.
Tutorial: Storage algorithms.
Week 11 Lecture: Dynamism. Epidemic and gossip-based protocols and probabilistic guarantees. Dynamic storage systems tolerating unbounded failures.
Lab: Gossip-based protocols.
Assessment Due: Programming Assignment 2
Week 12 Lecture: Security. Mechanisms to tolerate malicious attacks. Private and public key cryptography. Secured communication channels.
Tutorial: Cryptography.
Week 13 Lecture: Summary and review
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Information Technology (Computer Science) / Law 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Advanced) 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Computer Science) 2014 and earlier 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Computer Science)(Advanced) 2014 and earlier 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Information Systems) 2014 and earlier 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Information Systems)(Advanced) 2014 and earlier 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Computer Science & Tech. Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Aeronautical Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Aeronautical Engineering (Space) / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Science 2013, 2014
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Electrical Engineering (Bioelectronics) / Science 2011, 2012
Electrical Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Electrical Engineering (Computer) / Science 2014
Electrical Engineering (Power) / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Electrical Engineering (Telecommunications) / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Aeronautical / Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Aeronautical (Space) / Science 2015
Biomedical Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical /Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Chemical & Biomolecular / Science 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Electrical / Science 2015
Electrical (Computer) / Science 2015
Electrical (Power) / Science 2015
Electrical (Telecommunications) / Science 2015
Mechanical / Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Mechanical (Space) / Science 2015
Mechatronic / Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Mechatronic (Space) / Science 2015
Software Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Software 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Mechanical Engineering (Biomedical) / Science 2011, 2012
Mechanical Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Mechanical Engineering (Space) / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Mechatronic Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Mechatronic Engineering (Space) / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011
Software Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Information Technology 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Information Technology / Arts 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Information Technology / Commerce 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Information Technology / Medical Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Information Technology / Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science) 2014 and earlier 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Information Technology (Computer Science)/Arts 2012, 2013, 2014
Information Technology (Computer Science) / Commerce 2013, 2014
Information Technology (Computer Science) / Medical Science 2013, 2014
Information Technology (Computer Science) / Science 2012, 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Information Technology (Information Systems) 2014 and earlier 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Information Technology (Information Systems)/Arts 2013, 2014
Information Technology / Law 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Flexible First Year (Stream A) / Science 2015, 2018, 2012, 2013, 2014
Bachelor of Project Management (Built Environment) 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Project Management (Built Environment) Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Project Management (Civil Engineering Science) 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Project Management (Civil Engineering Science) Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Project Management (Software) Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Bachelor of Project Management (Software) 2016, 2017, 2018

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 2) Yes 32.5%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2) Yes 47.5%
Information Seeking (Level 2) Yes 12%
Communication (Level 2) Yes 3%
Professional Conduct (Level 3) Yes 5%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.