15-440 Assignments

There will be three programming projects and three written homework assignments.

Things to do BEFORE THE CLASS STARTS: Work through the Tour of Go to get an edge by learning the language ahead of time.

Topic Assigned Due Other Info Solutions
Micro-quiz 2: Implementing synchronization primitives using channels 9/13 9/17, 10:00pm Code available at cvar.tar
Micro-quiz 1: Networking Stuff (fill in the form online to hand-in) 9/5 9/7
Project 1: Distributed Password Cracker PDF 9/5 9/24 (Part A) and 10/1 (Part B) See FAQ
Homework 1: 4 problems 10/2 10/9, in class Solutions
Project 2: Tribbler 10/9 Updated: 11/5 both at 11:59pm See FAQ
Project 3: Design Your Own Distributed System Proposal: 11/20, First Review: 11/28-29 (click to sign up), Final Review: 12/4-5

All homework and the first project is to be done individually. The second and third programming projects will be done in groups of two students.

The later projects are done in groups for two reasons. The first is the size of the class. The second and more important reason is that this is an opportunity to experience the joys and frustrations of working with others. It's a skill you only get better at with practice.

Since 15-440 fulfills the project-class requirement of the CS degree, you will be expected to learn and practice good software engineering, as well as demonstrate mastery of the networking concepts. Both partners in a project group will need to fully understand the project and your solution in order to do well on those exam questions relating to the projects. For example, a typical question might be: "When you implemented X, you came across a particular situation Y that required some care. Explain why this simple solution Z doesn't work and describe how you solved it." We'll pick questions such that it will take some effort to figure out Y. If you didn't take the time to work the problem yourself and just relied on your partner, you won't have enough time during the test to figure it out. Be careful, the insights you'll need will come only from actually solving the problem as opposed to just seeing the solution.

By their nature, the assignments aren't going to be completely comprehensive of everything you'll encounter in the real world or in class. To assist you, we've compiled a list of suggested study problems that you may want to do in addition to the normal homework. They're not graded, but they'd make great topics to discuss with the course staff during office hours.

Programming in Go

This term we will be doing all of our programming in Go, a language developed at Google, but now part of an open source project. We believe that Go is an especially suitable language for writing distributed systems for the following reasons:

Go is available on the Andrew Linux machines, including those in the GHC third-floor cluster as /usr/local/bin, with the libraries and documentation in /usr/local/lib/go.

The standard means for maintaining a set of go programs is to have a single directory, named go with subdirectories src (for source code), pkg (for compiled libraries), and bin (for executable binaries.) You then need to set the GOPATH environment variable to include both the main go directory and your own directory. So, for example, if your go directory is at /usr/me/15-440/go, and you are using either csh or tcsh, you would include the following declaration in the .cshrc file in your home directory:

If you use gnu-emacs as your editor, add the following lines to your .emacs file, also in your home directory: Here are some useful resources for Go programmers:

General Notes on the Programming Projects

A key objective of this course is to provide a significant experience with system programming, where you must write programs that are robust and that must integrate with a large, installed software base. Oftentimes, these programs are the ones that other people will build upon or use as tools. Systems programming is very different from the application program development you have done in earlier courses:

Finally, please note that by design, the projects do not always specify every corner case bit of behavior or every design decision you may have to make. A major challenge in implementing real systems is in making the leap from a specification that is often slightly incomplete to a real-world implementation. Don't get frustrated -- our grading will not dock you for making reasonable design decisions! We suggest three general guidelines to follow:

Please keep in mind: The programming assignments are larger and more open-ended than in other courses. Doing a good job on the project requires more than just producing code that runs: it should have a good overall organization, be well implemented and documented, and be thoroughly tested.

Last updated: Tue Nov 27 14:10:40 -0500 2012 [validate xhtml]