CS 675 - Distributed Systems
Spring 2019
Art and Design Building 2026
Wednesday 4:30 - 7:10 pm

Dr. Songqing Chen
sqchen at cs dot gmu dot edu


This course focuses on basic concepts underlying the design, implementation, and management of distributed systems. It covers fundamental topics in distributed systems, including but not limited to distributed system architectures, inter-process communication, distributed middleware, synchronization and coordination,  distributed agreement, concurrency control, replication, and fault tolerance.


CS 571 (Operating Systems).  NOTE: Prerequisites will be enforced strictly.
Students should also be proficient in network (e.g., socket) programming.


The textbook for this class is  Andrew Tannenbaum and Maarten van Steen, ``Distributed Systems: Paradigms and Principles'', Prentice-Hall, 3rd edition, version 3.01, 2017.  Additionally, the following books may be used as reference texts.

  1.  G. Coulouris, J. Dollimore, T. Kindberg, “Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design,” 5th Edition, Addison-Wesley, 2012.
  2.   K. Birman, "Reliable Distributed Systems: Technologies, Web Services and Applications,"  Springer Verlag, 2009.

Course Outline

The following topics will be covered (not necessarily in the order below)
  1. Introduction
  2. Distributed System Architectures
  3. Communication in Distributed Systems
  4. Distributed Middleware
  5. Client/Server Design Issues
  6. Virtualization & Code Migration
  7. Naming
  8. Distributed Synchronization & Coordination
  9. Consistency & Replication in Distributed Systems
  10. Fault Tolerance
  11. P2P Systems
  12. Cloud Computing


There will be several programming projects. The software required for these projects is available on the computers in the VS&E Lab.

Please NOTE


50% of the course grade will be based on these programming projects. In addition, there will be a mid-term exam worth 20% of the grade. The final exam will account for the remaining 30% of the grade.

No early exams will be given. Missed/make-up exams are strongly discouraged and must be arranged with the instructor BEFORE the exam date with an official and verifiable excuse.

Exam Schedule

Mid-term: around mid March (date to be announced later)   Final exam:  Wednesday, May 8 (4:30 - 7:15 pm)

Academic Integrity

You are expected to abide by the University's honor code and the CS Department's Honor Code and Academic Integrity Policies during the semester, i.e., collaboration between students in different groups on an assignment is unacceptable. Any violation of the honor code will result in referral to the honor council.

NOTE: I will be using tools, e.g., MOSS , to detect plagiarism in the programming assignments.

Other Information

GMU Academic Calendar

Honor Code

Disability Resource Center

University Catalog

University Policies