George Mason University 


Course Description Spring 2016

CS756 Performance Analysis of Computer Networks
Section 001
last revised 2-23-16 

Spring 2016: M 1920-2200, ENGR 4507 

This course will be taught by Professor Mark Pullen: 

Dr J. Mark Pullen
ENGR Room 4455 (mail drop ENGR 4301).
Office hours 14:00-16:00 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 Report 30%, Project Presentation 20%. 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 Bertsekas and Gallager
(subject to revision) 

1-25 Review of data communications basics/Ch 2 

2-1 Review of packet networking basics and key protocols/Ch 2 

2-8 Queueing theory basics; IP multicast and RSVP / Sec 3.1-3.3 

2-15 Snow day - no class

2-22 M/M/x queues/Sec 3.3.2-3.4.4; simulation basics 

2-29 M/G/1 queues/Sec 3.5-3.5.1; Internet Integrated Services models/ appropriate RFCs 

3-7 No class- Spring Break 

3-14 Simulation methods; Reliable Multicast models; project teams formed/ refs TBA; pick times for project discussions (goal: help each team pick a good project topic and scope)

3-21 Queues with reservations, polling, priorities; Internet Differentiated Services / Sec 3.5.2-3.5.4 

3-28 Networks of queues/Sec 3.6-3.8.2 

4-4 No class - professor at IETF meeting - IETF summary due 4-10 

4-11 Take-home queueing exam - due 4-17 

4-18 Simulation packages; Network performance measurements/Ch 1-6 of Comer Vol III; project proposal 5-minute presentations 

4-25 Meet with professor to review project progress 

5-1 Project reports due 

5-9 (Final exam date) Project presentations; slides due to instructor by email by 19:30 on 5-8 



Required textbook: 

Bertsekas and Gallager, Data Networks, 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall, 1992 (out of print; available for CS756 students under password, by author's permission* 


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

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, 9th Ed., Prentice Hall, 2010* 

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.