ECE/CS 438: Communication Networks (Fall 2018)


: This course will introduce students to the key concepts underlying wired and wireless networking. The layered architecture of the network protocol stack will be the focus of discussion. Alongside, a variety of case studies will be drawn from the Internet, combined with practical programming exercises. At the end of the semester, students will well understand several concepts, including the Internet architecture, HTTP, DNS, P2P, Sockets, TCP/IP, BGP, Routing protocols,
wireless and sensor networking, WiFi, cellular and satellite networks, security, etc.

Time and Location:   M/W 3:00 to 4:20pm @ 1015 ECE Building
Instructor:                  Romit Roy Choudhury (
Office hours:              M/W 4:20pm

Course TA:               Ashutosh Dhekne <>   (prog. assigments, etc.)
Office Hours:            Thursday 2-3pm, CSL Basement Lounge

Course TA:               Sheng Shen <>   (homework, etc.)
Office Hours:            Tuesday 3-4pm, CSL 241

(For peer-to-peer discussion)

Textbook:                  Computer Networking (A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet)
                                  J. F. Kurose and D. W. Ross, 3rd or later edition, Addison-Wesley.
                                  (Other editions are fine).

Grading Information:
Homework:                              15%
Programming assignments:      25%
1 mid-term exam:                     25%
Final Exam:                              35%

4 Credit Students: Need to complete a mini-project and submit a report at the end of the semester. Topics for mini-projects will be suggested, but students are free to choose their own topics so long as the instructor approves. Mini-project = 10%.

Course Calendar
The schedule may change over time due to unforeseen events, instructor travel, evolving student interests, etc.

Topics of Discussion
Homeworks, Prog. Assignments, etc.
Aug 27

Course overview, Logistics, etc.

Aug 29

Overview and Internet Terminology, Introduction to Basic Terms and Concepts:
Network edge, core, media and links, circuit switching, packet switching.
Prog. Assignment 0: Instructions, Code, Beej's guide
No due date -- will not be graded
Sep 5 Overview FDM, TDM, datagram networks, virtual packet switching, layering, bandwidth vs. data rate.

Sep 10
Overview Layered communication, 4 kinds of delays, loss.

Application Layer, client-server, peer-peer, services, introduction to HTTP
Application layer: HTTP, FTP, Email, DNS, P2P
Homework 1 (Application) released

Sep 12

Socket programming, intro to transport-layer services,

Sep 17

Application layer: HTTP, FTP, Email, DNS, P2P
Prog. Assignment 1 (Socket programming) released

Homework 1 due on: Fri, Sep 21, 11:59pm CDT
Prog. Assignment 1 due on:
Transport layer: reliable data transfer, pipelined data transfer protocols
Homework 2 (Transport and TCP) released

Transport layer: flow control, connection management, congestion control, ATM, TCP case study.
Go back N, selective ACK, selective repeat.
Prog. Assignment 2 (TCP) released

Transport layer: TCP congestion control

Transport layer: TCP congestion control continued

Transport layer: TCP flow control and TCP variants

TCP review and clarifications
Mideterm review

Homework 2 due on: Fri, Oct 19, 11:59pm CDT
Prog. Assignment 2 due on: Nov 5, 2018
Internet Protocol (IP), introductions, network layer service model, forwarding vs. routing.
what is inside a router?
router architecture, virtual circuits, etc.

Internet Protocol (IP), addressing, NAT, ICMP, IPv6, tunneling

Routing algorithms: link state 
Routing Algorithm Examples
Routing algorithms: link state, distance vector
Guest Lecture: Ashutosh Dhekne

Routing algorithms: distance vector, Internet routing   +   Mid term review
Guest Lecture: Ashutosh Dhekne
mid-term-thoughts.ppt Routing algorithms: BGP, broadcast using centre-based trees, RPF
Prog. Assignment 3 (Routing)

Prog. Assignment 3 due on: Nov 25, 2018 (no extensions)

Midterm ( Oct 24, Wed , in class, 1 page 1 side handwritten cheat sheet)

5-link.ppt Link Layer: introduction and service model. Homework 3 (Routing + Link layer)

Link Layer: service model, error correction and FDMA, Aloha Prog. Assignment 4 (Link layer)

Link Layer: CSMA/CD, LAN addressing ARP, etc., Ethernet
6-basic-wireless.ppt Wireless Link Layer Networks (channel characteristics, MAC) ...

Wireless Link Layer WiFi 802.11 protocol
Some Slides on MAC and 802.11 -- see 1-12 & 46-54
Wireless Link Layer WiFi 802.11 protocol

Wireless Link Layer Mobility principles, cellular networks

Homework 3 due on: Thu, Dec 13, 11:59pm CDT
Prog. Assignment 4 due on: Thu, Dec 13, 11:59pm CDT

Mini project (for 4-credit students)
due: 11:59pm, Sunday, Dec 16, 2018
Final exam date:
Thu, Dec 20, 8-11am

ECE/CS 438 Final Exam or project presentation