George Mason University
Course Description

CS455 Computer Communications and Networking

Section 001 Spring 2014: Monday 16:30 - 19:10, Innovation Hall 134

Last Revised 02-23-2014

Professor: Dr. J. Mark Pullen
Mail drop: CS Dept, 4301 Engineering Building
Office hours Mondays 14:00 to 16:00; also by appointment any mutually convenient time, including weekends
Preferred contact is email:

TA: Sridhar Venkatesan
TA Office hours: 14:00-16:00 Mondays; 16:00-18:00 Tuesdays
TA Office location: ENGR 4456

Current Catalog Description
Data communications and networking protocols, with study organized to follow layers of Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP family of protocols). Topics include role of various media and software components, local and wide area network protocols, network performance, and emerging advanced commercial technologies.

* Larry Peterson and Bruce Davie, Computer Networks, A Systems Approach, 5th Edition, Morgan-Kaufmann
* Pullen, Understanding Internet Protocols, Wiley, 2000 (out of print; available online to CS455 students) NOTE: This reference is being revised; updates will be posted before they are needed for the course project

Stallings, Data and Computer Networks 9th Ed. Prentice-Hall, 2010 (older editions also useful)

Course Outcomes
1. Explain basic electrical engineering principles that enable communication at the physical layer
2. Demonstrate an understanding of wired and wireless data link layer protocols for shared medium and point-to-point communication
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the graph theory concepts required for unicast and multicast routing
4. Demonstrate an understanding of distributed routing protocols
5. Describe how protocols and applications use ARQ algorithms for distributed reliability
6. Demonstrate an understanding of end-to-end transport layer protocols
7. Explain basic concepts in cryptography and networking security protocols.
8. Illustrate fundamental understanding of networking by programming portions of the network protocols stack.
9. Demonstrate a basic understanding of performance analysis for computer networking
10. Demonstrate a basic working vocabulary of data communications and networking terminology

Prerequisites by Topic
Grade of C or better in CS 310 (Data Structures)
Grade of C or better in CS 365 (Computer Systems Architecture)
Grade of C or better in STAT 344 (Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists)
These will not be waived nor accepted as co-requisites; however equivalent study or experience elsewhere may be accepted at the instructor's discretion.

Major Topics Covered in the Course
1. OSI 7-layer model
2. Flow/error control
3. Medium access control
4. Ethernet
5. Routing
6. Multicasting
7. Internet architecture
8. TCP/UDP protocols
9. Multimedia networking
10. Security

The grading breakdown is as follows:
* 30% Projects
* 10% Homework assignments
* 25% Midterm exam
* 35% Final exam

Project: We will use the Java Network Workbench 2 (JNW2), software developed at GMU that simulates a protocol stack and displays the results, using a text interface. Students will create modules for Internet stack layers and run them in the JNW2 environment, as described in the text by Pullen. JNW2 will be available for download through the CS455 Moodle page Well commented code must be submitted for grading via an upload link on the Moodle page. Student problems with the project are to be addressed to the TA, who may refer them the instructor as needed.

Project credit breakout: DLC1, DLC2, DLC3, LAN1, WAN2, five points each; TRN3 ten points; extra credit assignment to be announced, five points.

Missed exams must be arranged with the instructor BEFORE the exam date.

Assignments are due by start of class on assigned date. Late assignments lose 10% per class credit. No project submission will be accepted after reading day (5/6/2014).

All students are expected to abide by the Honor Code as stated in the GMU catalog and elaborated for Computer Science. Students should be aware that their submissions may be checked by plagiarism detection software.

Grading is proficiency-based (no curve), cutoffs will be in the vicinity of (but not higher than) A  93; A- 90; B+ 87; B 83; B- 80; C 70.

Extra credit is available by doing an extra project; however, no student who fails the final exam will receive a grade higher than C, regardless of extra credit earned.

SYLLABUS (subject to revision)
date and topic/readings in Peterson text/project assignment

1-27 Course introduction; network concepts; 7-layer and 5-layer models / Sections 1.1 to 1.4 / JNW2 Setup introduced

2-3 Physical layer: analog telecommunications / Section 1.5 / Project DLC1: bit stuffing introduced

2-10 Physical layer: digital telecommunications / Sections 2.1 & 2.2

2-17 Data compression, security principles, integrity, appropriate use / Sections 2.3, 2.4 & 7.2 / Project DLC1 due; Project DLC2: CRC introduced

2-24 Data link control; discrete event simulation / Section 2.5 / Project DLC3: ARQ introduced;

3-3 Mid-term exam

3-10 no class; Spring Break

3-17 Local area networks / Sections 2.6 and 2.7 / Project DLC2 due; Project LAN1: CSMA/CD LAN introduced

3-24 no class; professor at NATO interoperation technology meeting; project DLC3 due

3-31 Network Layer: WANs, X.25, routing / Chapter 3 except Section 3.3

4-7 Internet Architecture (IPv4); Metcalfe’s Law / Section 3.3, Chapter 4 / Project LAN1 due; Project WAN2: Forwarding and Routing introduced

4-14 Queueing basics; transport layer: TCP and UDP; IPv6 / Chapter 5 & Sections 6.1 to 6.4

4-21 Multicast, multimedia and ATM networking /Chapter 4; Section 6.5; Chapter 7 / Project TRN3: congestion window introduced; Project WAN2 due

4-28 Network Security and Network Management / Chapter 8

5-5 Higher layer protocols / Chapter 9 / Project TRN3 due; any extra credit projects due; no project work submitted after this day

5-12 Final exam (comprehensive) / all chapters listed above / Exam location: classroom

Course communication: we will use email extensively. Students are responsible to read email daily. Announcements will be sent to the class email list, which consists of GMU email accounts.

Course notices and assignments will be provided via email. Course materials (for example, homework solutions) will be available though the course Moodle page, Students are responsible for assigned readings and all material outlined in lecture slides.

Lectures will be presented using the MIST/C distance education tool set and captured in recordings that will be available to students registered in CS455. The MIST/C system also supports online connection to class that will be available for students to participate remotely as a convenience to students but not as a formal online education option.

University Requirements
Honor Code Statement.

Students with Disabilities
If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you should: 1) make sure this documentation is on file with the Office of Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 222; 993-2474; to determine the accommodations you need; and 2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.