Computer Sciences Department
CS 739
Spring 2007
Barton Miller
CS 739: Distributed Systems

New Stuff


Barton Miller
email: email address
Office: 7363 CS
Phone: 263-3378
Lecture: Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9:30am-10:45am, 1207 Computer Sciences
Office hours: Tuesday/Thursday 11am-noon


This class will cover topics in distributed systems, including time and agreement, file systems, reliability, process migration, distributed virtual memory, languages, load sharing, authentication, the Internet and Web.

We will read a collection of papers on topics in distributed systems. These papers come from journal articles, conference papers, and technical reports. Most of these papers are recent, so we will get a view of what is currently being done in distributed systems. These papers are available on the Web (linked from the reading list).

It is important that you read the papers before we discuss them in class. You will form reading groups of 3 or 4 students each, to discuss the papers before they are covered in class. I have used the reading groups in previous CS736 and CS739 classes and they work well. The goal of the reading groups is talk about the ideas in the papers; you will not necessarily come to a consensus as to whether the ideas are good or bad.


The course will rely heavily on student participation. For the first few weeks of class, I will run a discussion lecture. We will talk about the first few papers with everyone participating.

For the remainder of the semester, we will have student presentations on the papers; these presentations will be done individually or in pairs. You will sign-up for one class and will present the papers for that class. The presentations will cover several papers, and the student(s) making the presentation will be responsible for reading these papers. The rest of the class will have one paper on the topic to read.

Student Presentations

The presentations will generally be 45 minutes, 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.

Following each presentation will be a general class discussion led by me.

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

Paper and Project

A researcher needs several skills. Besides learning about distributed systems, we will working on our written and spoken communication skills.

Each of you (in groups of two) will do a project. The project will be chosen from a list that I will hand out during the 4th week of class. Two weeks later, you will prepare a short (3-4 page) project proposal. During the the 9th week of classes we will have a Work in Progress session. This is patterned after a conference session where each person talks for 5 minutes about their current research. You will use this time to quickly describe your project, explain the main ideas and what you hope to accomplish, and tell the current state of the work.

During the last week of class, we will have a mini-conference to present the results from the projects. Each project will have a 20 minute presentation, with 5 minutes following for questions. These two class periods are structured like conference sessions.

Each project will have a written project report. This report will be less than 20 pages and structured like a research paper (abstract, intro, body, conclusions, references). The final version of this report will be due during the last week of classes. You will prepare an early draft of your report by the 14th week of the class. Each project group will then review the report of another project group. The purpose of this review is to help in preparing the final report.

Grades and Exams

There will be none.

Class Schedule

The following schedule is tentative and can (and will) change. Paper numbers from the reading list are shown in parentheses, (6).

Check back here on a regular basis for scheduling changes!

Monday Wednesday Friday
Week 1 Jan 22: Intro and Overview Jan 24: (1) Jan 26: (2)
Week 2 Jan 29: (3) Jan 31: (4) Feb 2: (5)
Week 3 Feb 5: (6) Feb 7: (7) Feb 9: (8) Postponed (to be rescheduled)
Week 4 Feb 12: (9) Feb 14: (10)
Project list available.
Feb 16: (11) Swetha
Week 5 Feb 19: (12) Andy Feb 21: (13) Derek Feb 23:
Week 6 Feb 26: (14) Ting Feb 28: (15) Haris
Project proposal due.
Mar 2: (16) Greg
Week 7 Mar 5: Mar 7: (17) Matt Mar 9: (18) Kevin
Week 8 Mar 12: Mar 14: (19) Hidayat Mar 16: (20) Mark
Week 9 Mar 19: (21) Giri Mar 21: (22) Nate Mar 23: (23)
Week 10 Mar 26: Mar 28: Mar 30: Work in Progress Presentations
  Apr 2-6: Spring Break
Week 11 Apr 9: Apr 11: Apr 13:
Week 12 Apr 16: Apr 18: Apr 20:
Week 13 Apr 23: Apr 25: Apr 27: Class discussion of refereeing and reports.
8:30am in 2310 CS
Week 14 Apr 30: May 2: Paper draft due to referees (5pm) May 4: (8)
Week 15 May 7: Final Project Poster Presentation
9:30am to 11am
2310 CS.
Referee reports due.
May 9: May 11: Final paper due.
4pm, Bart's office.

Last modified: Tue May 8 21:52:59 CDT 2007 by bart