Course Components and Grading


Grades will be computed as follows: 
    5% Class Participation
    15% Homework (written assignments, reading evaluations)
    40% Programming projects/Term project
    40% Midterm Examinations

Class Participation

One goal of this course is to encourage discussion of the issues in computer networks and distributed systems among all of class members. As such, students are encouraged to ask questions, point out weaknesses, and make observations during the lecture. 


The homework portion of your grade will be determined by a combination of written assignments and evaluations of a number of technical papers that will supplement our textbooks.

For each assigned paper, students will submit a 1 page maximum evaluation listing: (i) the three most important things the paper says, (ii) the most glaring problem with the paper, and (iii) what conclusion you draw about building robust and scalable networks and distributed systems. Clearly, you may have changed your mind by the end of the class discussion; that's OK (and even expected). Evaluations should be entered online, by clicking on the evaluate button, right next to the papers. 

The evaluations will be graded as follows. Each evaluation will be graded on a 0-3 scale.  A zero indicates that you did not turn in an evaluation or made very little effort.  A three indicates that you thought hard about the paper you read. Grading will start off relatively easy but will become progressively harder as the semester progresses. You can skip evaluation of one of the papers without penalty. The homework summaries should reflect your understanding of the paper. It is not acceptable to turn in a summary if you have not made an honest effort to read the paper. Late homework will not receive credit for any reason.


There will be two examinations in this course.  The first, in the middle of the semester, will cover networking topics exclusively.  The second, at the end of the semester, will focus on distributed systems issues but may touch on networking topics as well.  There will be no final examination.  In lieu of the final, students will present the results of their term projects.

Late Policy

Homework assignments and reading evaluations will not be accepted late (no exceptions).  For programming projects, you will have a total of three flex days that your group can allocate any way you see fit.  For example, you can turn in one assignment three days late, or three assignments one day late.  Beyond these three flex days, you will lose 25% of your grade for each additional 24 hours that each project is late.


Homework assignments and, of course, examinations are to be completed individually.  We encourage collaboration and assistance on all programming projects.  However, each group (and all its members) must independently design and develop their own solutions and understand how their design works.  Writeups for programming projects must be completed individually by each group.