George Mason University
Course Description Fall 2010

CS756 Performance Analysis of Computer Networks
Sections 001 (classroom) and 002 (online)
last revised 8-25-10


Fall 2010: M 1920-2200, ENGR 4705 and online at

This course will be taught by Professor Mark Pullen:

Dr J. Mark Pullen
ENGR Room 4455 (mail drop ENGR 4301).
Office hours 16:00-18:00 Monday and by appointment (including after class and on weekends)
Preferred contact email:
Phone: 703-993-1538


This course will enable the student to understand the principal factors that influence the performance of packet switched networks supporting data and multimedia applications, predict the impact of these factors on performance by analytical and simulation techniques, and compare the predicted results with actual measured performance.

Prerequisite: CS555 or other comprehensive course in networking basics (includes background in computer architectures, statistics, ability to program in C/C++/Java and use Unix operating system)

Project: Performance analysis of packet networking application using (1) analytical techniques, particularly queueing theory, (2) simulation and/or (3) actual measurement. Report on results. Students work in teams of one or two, with project scope appropriate to the number on the team; each member of team must be familiar with and responsible for all parts of project. Topics and methods for project are proposed by students, confirmed by negotiation with professor. Lab facilities will be made available as needed. Methods are are described above; some example topics are:

Internet Protocol Multicast with Resource Reservation
Internet Protocol Version 6
Internet Protocol with Resource Reservation over SONET
Internet Integrated Services
Internet Differentiated Services
Reliable or Selectively Reliable Multicast
Ad-hoc and overlay networks


Queueing Theory Exam 30%, IETF Summary 10%, Project Proposal 10%, Project Presentation 20%; Project Report 30%. Missed assignments must be arranged with the instructor BEFORE the exam date. Assignments are due at 19:30 on the assigned date. Late assignments lose 10% per week credit. Each student is expected to comply with the Honor Code as stated in the GMU catalog, and elaborated for Computer Science.

Grading is proficiency-based (no curve); cutoffs will be in the vicinity of (and no higher than) A - 93; A- - 90; B+ - 87; B - 83; B- 90; C - 70.


Date Topic/Reading Assignment in Mieghem
(subject to revision)

8-30 Review of data communications basics/none

9-6 Holiday; no class

9-13 Review of packet networking basics and key protocols

9-20 IP multicast and RSVP; queueing theory basics/ Chap 7 & 13; Sec 14.1

9-27 Simulation Guest Lecture 1: Dr. Bernard Zeigler

10-4 M/M/x queues/Sec 14.2; Internet Integrated Services models/ appropriate RFCs

10-12 (NOTE: This is a Tuesday) M/G/1 queues/Sec 14.3; Reliable Multicast models; project teams formed/ refs TBA

10-18 Simulation Guest Lecture 2

10-25 Queues with reservations, polling, priorities; project discussions; Internet Differentiated Services / Sec 14.4, 14.5

11-1 Networks of queues; project proposal 5-minute presentations/ Lecture notes

11-8 Queueing theory exam (take home); project topics finalized via email

11-15 Simulation Guest Lecture 3; exam due; project discussions with professor by MIST/C, email, phone or in person this week

11-22 Network performance measurements; IETF summary due / Ch 1-6 of Comer Vol III

11-29 No class - work on project

12-6 Meet with professor to review project progress

12-13 reading day; project reports due by 19:30

12-20 (Final exam date) Project presentations; slides due to instructor by email by 19:30 on 12-19


Required textbook:

Van Mieghem, Performance Analysis of Communication Networks and Systems, Cambridge University Press, 2006


Bertsekas and Gallager, Data Networks, 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall, 1992*

Comer, Internetworking with TCP/IP, Volume I, 5th ed., Prentice Hall, 2005*
Comer and Stevens, Internetworking with TCP/IP Volume III, Prentice-Hall, 2000
Katezela, Modeling and Simulating Communications Networks, Prentice Hall, 1999
Kleinrock, Queueing Systems, Volume 1, Wiley, 1975
Pullen, Understanding Internet Protocols, Wiley, 2000
Stallings, Data and Computer Communications, 8th Ed., Prentice Hall, 2006*
Stallings, High Speed Networks: TCP/IP and ATM Design Principles, 2nd Ed., Prentice-Hall, 2002*
Tanenbaum, Computer Networks, 4th Ed., Prentice Hall, 2002*

* These books are of sufficient importance in the discipline of Computer Networking that serious students should strongly consider investing in copies of recent editions for their library.

Course notices and assignments will be provided via email. Students are responsible to monitor their GMU email account for announcements, Course materials will be available online when appropriate. Students are responsible for assigned readings and all material outlined in lecture slides.

Internet-based course delivery: The course will be presented in Room 4507 ENGR but all classes will be available remotely using distance education technology MIST/C. The requirement to participate is a Macintosh, Windows or Linux PC. Classes are delivered as graphics and audio to the home or office desktop. For details see

As part of the distance education approach, all classes are prepared on slides. These will be available in Adobe PDF format for download by 24 hours before class.

The MIST/C system offers the capability for online students to meet with the instructor and make project presentations to the class from their desktop computer, equipped with sound card and microphone. Alternately, online students may come to the classroom to make their presentation.