CSci551 Computer Communications, Spring 2013: Overview

Class Overview

This is a first-year graduate class in computer networking. As such, this class will give you a deeper understanding of networking technologies from the routing-layer on, and expose you to classic and contemporary literature on the subject. The class also has a hands-on simulation project which will give you insight into what it takes to build real networking sub-systems.

The class has the following components:

  • Programming Assignments (40%) You will be expected to complete one substantial programming project, which will be assigned in two parts. The first part will be worth 15% of the grade, and the second part 25%. You will implement this project on the University's Unix machines. The projects assume only a basic understanding of C++ and Unix. If you lack this background, you will have a lot of difficulty with this class.
  • In-class exams (60%). There will be be five in-class exams. Each exam will roughly correspond to a fifth of the material. All exams will be closed book and will contain a mixture of multiple-choice and short answer questions.

Student Responsibilities

By enrolling this class, here is what you're agreeing to:

  • All work turned in on programming assignments and exams must be that of the individual student. If the instructor finds any evidence of cheating on an exam, he reserves the right to discipline the student appropriately (see below).
  • This policy also holds for programming assignments. In this class, we will use sophisticated automated program checkers to detect cheating. Be aware that the program checkers have demonstrated very good results and are widely used within the academic community. Any student caught cheating will be given zero credit and will be disciplined.
  • You must keep up with the assigned readings. If you come to class without having read the papers for the corresponding lecture, you're unlikely to learn anything at all from the lecture. In particular:
    1. You are expected to read all the papers in detail. Not all details will be covered in class. I will assume knowledge of material covered in EE450 and a C/C++ programming proficiency from CS402 or its equivalent. If you covered the introductory material at some other school it is YOUR responsibility to fill in any missing background. Feel free to ask me for advice on appropriate introductory readings if you feel your background is insufficient.
    2. I expect you to attend every class meeting. If you do happen to miss a session, you are responsible for finding out what material was covered and if any administrative announcements were made. You must do so BEFORE the next session (e.g., if there is an assignment given during the missed session, you are still responsible for completing it by the next week along with the other students).

News and Discussion Forum

All interaction with the instructor and with other students for the class will be through its Piazza site. On the first day of classes, I will announce more details about Piazza.

You are expected to check Piazza periodically for important announcements.

If you wish to contact me, please use Piazza (rather than my regular email), and I will try to respond to your question quickly. While you should always feel free to contact me, I strongly encourage you to post your question to Piazza; you will usually get much faster responses from your fellow students.


Final letter grades will be determined using a "modified" curve. I will assign grades of C and BELOW to individuals who do not perform satisfactorily in the above areas (i.e., you should not assume that because this is a graduate class you will get a B- or even C if you perform unsatisfactorily.).

We will not assign incompletes unless it is for a documented medical reason (in accordance with USC policy).

Statement for Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Statement on Academic Integrity

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one's own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another's work as one's own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. Scampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A: Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found at: