Course Syllabus
CS658 Networked Virtual Environments
Spring 2011
Dr. J. Mark Pullen
(revised 3-5-11)



Dept of Computer Science
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

Telephone: 703-993-1538

FAX: 703-993-1706


Office hours: Mondays 16:00 to 18:00 online in MIST/C (send email beforehand)

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

TA: Mohammed Hassan ( (office hours Monday 16:00-18:00 and Thursday 17:00 to 19:00)

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 five 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 MIST/C 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.


Anthony Steed & Manuel Fradinho Oliveira, Networked Graphics, Morgan-Kaufmann, 2010

Computer and Network Requirements

We will communicate mostly by MIST/C and email. All software required for the course will run on a Windows XP/Vista/7, Macintosh OSX, or Linux computer with at least 1 GHz processor, 512MB memory, 100MB free disk space, and Internet access supporting at least 56 kb/s. All software is available for free download. To try MIST/C, go to, load the client software, and play recording WelcomeToMISTC. Then go to and login to CS658 page (to be available not later than 17 Jan) using your GMU email username and password. Links to project software will be provided in lectures. MIST/C will be used with the Xj3D virtual world viewer or other similar free download 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 with the instructor before the exam date)

Schedule (subject to revision)


(End) Week Of

Lectures; Discussion Date



Project Assignment

24 Jan


1 to 3
24 Jan

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


text ch 1

load and test MIST/C & software

31 Jan
(7 Feb)

4 to 9;
7 Feb

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

text ch
2, 3, 4

part 1: sending DIS PDUs
due 7 Feb

14 Feb
(21 Feb)

10 to 15;
21 Feb

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

text ch    5, 6

part 2:
sending networked sound
due 21 Feb

28 Feb

16; none

first exam

text ch
1 to 6


7 Mar
(21 Mar) NOTE:     spans   GMU Spring Break

17 to 22;
21 Mar

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

text ch
7, 8, 9

part 3: visualization using VRML
due 21 Mar

28 Mar


IETF meets; no class - work on project



4 Apr
(11 Apr)

23 to 28;
11 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   10, 11, 12

part 4: linking visualization to received DIS PDUs
due 11 Apr

18 Apr
(25 Apr)

30 to 31;
25 Apr

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

13 + readings to be provided

part 5: collision detection
due 25 Apr

2 May
(2 May)

NVE validation

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



part 6: multi-avatars and multicast;
integration event

16 May

33; none

second exam

text ch
7 to 13