Computer Sciences Department
CS 739
Spring 1999
Pei Cao
CS 739: Introduction to Distributed Systems


Course Overview

This course will cover classic and recent topics in distributed systems, including time and agreement, file systems, WWW, security, fault tolerance, mobile computing, process migration, distributed programming and PDAs. The course seeks to cover both fundamental distributed computing issues and recent trends in distributed systems.

The main text is a collection of papers on topics in distributed systems. The readings are available for purchase at DoIT as "CS739 Handout #1". In addition, Andrew Tanenbaum's book "Distributed Operating Systems" is a recommended, but optional, text book. The lectures will cover materials from the book from time to time. Finally, materials that are available on the Internet, such as protocol specifications, are listed here, but are not included in the Handout.


Pei Cao
Office: 7361 CS
Phone: 262-2252
Office hours: Wednesday 2-4pm or by appointment


During each class, active participation in discussion about the material is strongly encouraged. In addition, 10 of the 28 lectures will be student presentations. Three or four students should sign up for each student presentation slot and present the presentation together. The presentation is graded.

Course Project

This semester, there is one fixed course project: Multi-protocol File System Proxy. Three students should form a group and work on the project together. A detailed description of the project will be available by the 4th lecture.


There will be bi-weekly quizes, but no midterm or final exams. The grade on your presentation will account for 25% of the final grade, the grade on the quizes 25%, and the project grade 50%.

Class Schedule

Here is a tentative class schedule.

Student Presentations

The presentations will generally be about one hour, including questions, interruptions, comments, etc. The presentations will be organized talks using transparencies. In preparing your presentation, you will come talk with me (at least) three times. The first time, you will have had read the paper that you will present and we will discuss (a) what issues are important in the paper and (b) ideas for organizing your talk. The second time, you will have an outline for your talk. This outline will be detailed enough that will be covered on each slide. The third time, you will have drafts of your slides.

You must practice your talk several times before you present it to the class. The practice will help smooth the presentation and give you if your organization makes sense. It will also give you opportunities to time your talk so that it fits in the one hour period.