Course Syllabus


CS758 Networked Virtual Environments

Spring 2007

Dr. J. Mark Pullen

Revised 1-20-07



Dept of Computer Science

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA 22030


Telephone: 703-993-1538


FAX: 703-993-3692




Office hours: Mondays 16:00 to 18:00 online


Class meets: Mondays 19:20 to 22:00 (attend in person, online, or by recording)


Course Description


Topics covered in lecture are: networked virtual environment overview, networking technology, network multimedia concepts, virtual simulation concepts, efficiency/performance issues, and online conferencing/virtual classrooms. The project consists of four segments, each covering one aspect of networked virtual environments, plus a final session where one- or two-person teams create a minimally functional networked virtual environment over the Internet using overlay multicast software.  The course consists of 31 fifty-minute sessions plus a multi-part Java programming project, which will be presented/discussed in class, and two ninety-minute examinations.  Lectures are recorded in Network EducationWare (NEW) format (see below) and are available for playback on a flexible schedule, which is necessary since the course is shared among institutions having different academic calendars.




Sandeep Singhal and Michael Zyda, Networked Virtual Environments, Addison-Wesley, 1999

(this book is out of print; you can get it, used, from; also I have arranged to  reproduce parts of it as needed, by permission of Zyda)


Computer and Network Requirements


We will communicate mostly by NEW and email. All software required for the course will run on a Windows 2000 or XP computer with at least 400 MHz processor, 512MB memory, 50MB free disk space, and modem or Ethernet interface. All software is available for free download. To try NEW, go to, click on Demo Portal, load and test the software (both LIVE and PLAY). Links to project software will be provided in lectures.




Individual project assignments (6; 10% each)            60%

            Projects due by 19:30; late projects lose 20% per week

Exams (2; 20% each)                                                  40%

            Missed exams must be coordinated before the exam date with the instructor


Schedule (subject to revision)


Start (End) Week Of              Lectures; Discussion Date                  Topics


22 Jan                                      1 to 3; 22 Jan                           networked virtual environment overview:

forms of distributed interaction; example systems;

NVE technologies and challenges; origins of NVE


29 Jan (29 Jan)                        no lecture; 29 Jan                    XJ3D/Java installation and orientation



5 Feb  (12 Feb)                        4 to 9; 12 Feb                          network technology overview: host-to-network

technologies; internetting; multicasting; transport

layer; application protocols; communication



19 Feb (26 Feb)                       10 to 15; 26 Feb                      networked multimedia overview: sound; graphics;

video; priority, rate control, flow control; middleware


5 Mar                                       16; none                                  first exam


12 Mar                                                                                     GMU Spring Break


5 Mar  (2 Apr)                         17 to 22; 2 Apr                        visualization; virtual simulation: managing shared

state; stream networking; psychological issues: event

resolution; DoD architectures: DIS and HLA


9 Apr (23 Apr)                         23 to 29; 23 Apr                      efficiency/performance issues: approximating reality:

dead reckoning; threads; real-time rendering; collision

detection; compression and aggregation; area-of-

interest management; server architectures


30 Apr (30 Apr)                       30 to 31; 30 Apr                      online conferencing/teaching: system requirements &

subtle issues; floor control; recording; integrated

graphics; network performance issues


7 May (7 May)                         32; NVE validation                  Integrate individual projects into an NVE


14 May                                    33; none                                  second exam