Networks and Mobile Systems


Spring 2013

Prof. Lakshminarayanan Subramanian

Wed 7:10-9:00pm, CIWW 312

Office Hours:  Thu 5:00- 6:00, 715 Broadway, Room 706




This is a graduate level course on computer networks and mobile systems. This is a capstone class which will be programming and network analysis intensive. In this class, we will teach the design and implementation techniques essential for engineering both robust networks and mobile systems. There's no textbook, you need read many research papers (with our guidance) to learn the current challenges and solutions in networking, wireless and mobile systems. If you have been exposed to a networking course in your undergrad (i.e. you know the basics of TCP/IP, socket programming), we highly encourage you to take this class.  


The goal of this class is to guide students so that they can:

    •    initiate and critique research ideas in networks and mobile systems.

    •    implement and evaluate a working system that can handle real world workload.


This course will have three components

    •    reading/lecture/discussion of papers (summary + discussion  10% weightage)

    •    a series of labs (40% weightage) + final class project (30% weightage)

    •    a midterm or final (20% weightage)




The class will cover 3 sets of topics. The first part of the class will focus on core networking concepts pertaining to the Internet. The second part will cover concepts in wireless communications and the third part will cover research topics pertaining to mobile systems. The rough flow of the topics is as follows:


Week 1: Internet evolution: Naming, IP, DNS

Week 2: Routing protocols (BGP, OSPF)

Week 3: Transport (TCP, UDP and its variants)

Week 4: Network services: Routers vs Middleboxes (QoS, Multicast, Anycast) 

Week 5: P2P networks and Overlay networks

Week 6: Software Defined Networks

Week 7: Wireless: Signals, Interference and MAC protocols

Week 8: Routing and Data transfer in wireless networks

Week 9: Wireless Systems with Directional Antennas, Phased Array Antennas

Week 10: Cellular networks: Design and Evolution

Week 11: Mobile Web

Week 12: Mobile Applications and Platforms

Week 13: Wireless and Mobile Security

Week 14: Mobile Clouds


We will read about 40-50 research papers on various aspects of networks and mobile systems. Students are expected to read papers before the class and participate in the discussion during the class. The lecture will be conducted in an interactive fashion. We will lead the discussion, but we expect everyone to participate. You will be graded for class discussion and paper summaries. Each student will be individually responsible for writing up a short summary of every paper. The summaries are due before 3 PM on the day of the corresponding class. Submission instructions will be posted before class begins.


The labs in this course will expose the students to the essential topics of networking. This course will strongly encourage a “learning by doing it yourself” approach to networking, where the students will implement or measure different concepts learnt in class. The final course project (conducted in a group of 2 students) should be a research-oriented project which should be a design/implementation of a new concept in networking or wireless/mobile systems. Several suggested projects may build on the labs for the class and will be a natural continuation of a specific lab.  Your goal in the labs and the final projects is to understand how networks work and how to build systems.  Research projects may be presented either in class or as a poster in a departmental mini-conference in the Spring Showcase.  Suggested project ideas will be provided by the instructor.



1.     Undergraduate Networks and/or Operating Systems

2.     Capstone class requirements

3.     Programming experience in C/C++/Java is helpful for the labs and final project.



Lecture 1: Internet Structure, Evolution and Key Architectural Components (no summary required)


H. Zimmerman, "OSI Reference Model -- The ISO Model of Architecture for Open Systems Interconnection", IEEE Transactions on Communications, 28(4), April, 1980, pp. 425-432.[pdf]

J. Saltzer, D. Reed, and D. Clark, "End-to-end Arguments in System Design". ACM Transactions on Computer Systems (TOCS), Vol. 2, No. 4, 1984, pp. 195-206.[pdf]

P. Mockapatris, K.J. Dunlap, "Development of the Domain Name System",ACM SIGCOMM 1988. [pdf]

W. B. Norton, "Internet Service Providers and Peering", Draft paper, 2000. [pdf]


Suggested Additional Reading:

    •    B. Ford, J. Strauss, C. Lesniiewski-Laas, S. Rhea, F. Kaashoek and R. Morris. "User-Relatives Names for Globally Connected Personal Devices", USENIX OSDI 2006.

    •    D. Clark. "Rethinking the Design of the Internet: end to end arguments vs. the brave new world." Presented at TPRC 2000, Alexandria, Va., September 23-25th, 2000.[pdf]