Course Syllabus
CS758 Networked Virtual Environments
Spring 2009
Dr. J. Mark Pullen
(revised 2-1-09)



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.


CS555 or other introductory computer networks course, plus the ability to write simple programs in Java.


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 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 XP or Vista computer with at least 1 GHz processor, 512MB memory, 100MB 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. NEW will be used with the Xj3D virtual world viewer.


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)


(End) Week Of

Lectures; Discussion Date



Project Assignment

26 Jan


1 to 3
26 Jan

networked virtual environment overview: forms of distributed interaction; example systems; NVE technologies and challenges; origins of NVE


text ch
1 & 2

load and test NEW & software

2 Feb
(9 Feb)

4 to 9;
9 Feb

network technology overview: host-to-network technologies; internetting; multicasting; transport layer; application protocols; communication architectures

text ch
3 & 4

load and test Java software
environment ; part 1: sending DIS PDUs
due 16 Feb

16 Feb
(23 Feb)

10 to 15;
23 Feb

networked multimedia overview: sound; graphics; video; priority, rate control, flow control; middleware; exam review

to be provided

part 2:
sending networked sound
due 2 Mar

2 Mar

16; none

first exam

text ch
1 to 4


9 Mar


GMU Spring Break



16 Mar
(30 Mar)

17 to 22;
30 Mar

Visualization; virtual simulation: managing shared state; stream networking; psychological issues: event resolution; DoD architectures: DIS and HLA

text ch
5 & 8

part 3: visualization using VRML
due 30 Mar

6 Apr


No class work on project



13 Apr
(20 Apr)

23 to 28;
20 Apr

efficiency/performance issues: approximating reality: dead reckoning; threads; real-time rendering; collision detection; compression and aggregation; area-of-interest management; server architectures

text ch 6 & 7

part 4: linking visualization to received DIS PDUs
due 13 Apr

27 Apr
(27 Apr)

30 to 31;
27 Apr

online conferencing/teaching: system requirements & subtle issues; floor control; recording; integrated graphics; network performance issues

to be provided

part 5: collision detection
due 27 Apr

4 May
(4 May)

NVE validation

Integrate individual projects into an NVE; exam review (group activity)



part 6: multi-avatars and multicast;
integration event

11 May

33; none

second exam

text ch
5 to 8