The required textbook for the course is Computer Networks: A Systems Approach, fifth edition, by Larry Peterson and Bruce Davie. Almost all the material that we will cover is in the textbook.

Other good textbooks that you can use as a substitute are Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach, Jim Kurose and Keith Ross, Addison Wesley, and Computer Networks, Andrew Tanenbaum and David Wetherall, Prentice Hall.

For the programming projects, please see Dave's Notes on Software Engineering for Systems Hackers.

There are a few recommended texts which are useful references (especially if networking becomes your career).

  • TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols by W. Richard Stevens.
  • Unix Network Programming: Networking APIs: Sockets and XTI (Volume 1) by W. Richard Stevens.
  • Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment by W. Richard Stevens, Addison-Wesley, 1993.

Finally, if you have not taken 15-213, you may find its textbook useful as a gentle, software-focused introduction to computer architecture.

  • Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective by Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron. Prentice Hall, 2003


This semester we will again have recitations for 15-441. Recitations will cover systems hacking techniques designed to save you time and pain on the projects, will go into more detail about certain topics such as TCP, and will serve as review sessions before exams.


Your final grade for the course will be based on the following weights for the individual assignments:

  • 15% Project 1
  • 15% Project 2
  • 15% Project 3
  • 15% Homework
  • 15% Midterm
  • 25% Final Exam

The midterm will be an in-class, closed-book exam, covering all material up to that point in the course. The final exam will be a closed-book exam, covering m aterial from the whole year, with emphasis on the second half of the course.

Project 1 will focus on the implementation of a standards-compliant HTTP 1.1 server, ensuring familiarity with socket programming. Project 2 will build upon your web server from the first project by supporting it with a distributed, CDN-like backend. Project 3 will focus on file transfers and the protocol components necessary for efficient and reliable file transfer (retransmission, congestion control, caching, etc.) Project 1 is a solo project; projects 2 and 3 are to be done in groups of two students.

The homework will combine both textbook-like questions as well as hands-on experimental exercises. There will be three homework assignments.

Because of the importance of understanding both the theoretical and hands-on elements of networking, students must pass all three components of the course (homeworks, exams, and the projects) in order to receive a passing grade for the course.


Date Instructor Topics Notes Readings
Tue 08/27 PRS Introduction
Thu 08/29 PRS Protocol Stacks and Layering
Readings End to End Arguments in System Design and Internet Protocols Design Philosophy.
Fri 08/30 David Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of...Sockets!
Recitation slides plus extra materials are available via GitHub 15-441 Recitation Sessions.
Tue 09/03 PRS Application Layer Examples
Thu 09/05 EA Physical Layer
[pdf] [ppt]
Fri 09/06 Matt Sockets & Concurrency and Project 1 Q& A
Tue 09/10 EA Coding and error control
Thu 09/12 EA Datalink and Ethernet
Fri 09/13 Ben Version Control
See Revision Control chapter of systems-se.
Also see the online Subversion book, and Git Immerstion.
Tue 09/17 EA Bridging, Addressing and Forwarding
Readings VL2 A Scalable and Flexible Data Center Network, Ethane Taking Control of the Enterprise, and OpenFlow Enabling Innovation in Campus Networks.
Thu 09/19 PRS IP Forwarding & Addressing
Fri 09/20 Matt HTTP Parsing
Fri 09/20 David Testing in the Trenches
Tue 09/24 PRS NATs & tunnels & translation
Thu 09/26 PRS Routing
Fri 09/27 Ben Learning the Pythonic Way
Tue 10/01 PRS Routing Hierarchy and BGP
Thu 10/03 PRS Virtual Connections and Friends
Fri 10/04 David Angels (OpenSSL) and D(a)emons
Tue 10/08 EA Transport and TCP
[pdf] [pptx]
Thu 10/10 EA TCP Details
[pdf] [pptx]
Fri 10/11 Ben, Matt, David Midterm exam Review
No slides, just three TAs and a chalkboard. Come with questions!
Tue 10/15 EA Performance and Future of TCP
[pdf] [pptx]
Readings Data Center TCP (DCTCP).
Fri 10/18 No recitation --- mid-semester break.
Tue 10/22 PRS Web, peer-to-peer, and CDNs
Helpful reference Tor: The Second Generation Onion Router. full sized. 5.1-5.5
Thu 10/24 PRS Web, peer-to-peer, and CDNs
Helpful reference An Analysis of the Skype Peer-to-Peer Internet Telephony Protocol. full sized. 5.2
Fri 10/25 Ben There is no Such Thing as TCP: TCP Congestion Control
Tue 10/29 PRS Web, peer-to-peer, and CDNs
full sized. 6.1-6.3
Thu 10/31 EA QoS
Fri 11/01 David BitTyrant: A Strategic BitTorrent Client
Optional reading: BitTyrant
Tue 11/05 Zhang Video Streaming
full sized 9.4
Thu 11/07 David Security 1
full sized 8.1-8.4
Fri 11/08 Matt and David Project 3
Tue 11/12 Matt Security 2
full sized
Thu 11/14 EA Wireless and Mobile
Fri 11/15 Matt Protocol Security
Tue 11/19 EA Wireless and Mobile
Thu 11/21 EA Wireless, mobile and last mile
[pdf] [pptx]
Fri 11/22 David Project 3
Extra office hour from 1:30 to 2:30 in the lecture room
Tue 11/26 PRS Last mile
full sized
Thu 11/28 Thanksgiving
Fri 11/29 Thanksgiving
Tue 12/03 PRS No lecture - P3 time
Thu 12/05 PRS Future directions and course Q&A
Fri 12/06 Matt, Ben, David Final Exam Q&A
Thu 12/12 PRS Final Exam

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