CS653 -- Computer Networking

Instructor: Phillipa Gill
Time: MW 11:15 - 12:30
Location: CS Rm. 142
Forum: Piazza (Enroll here for course announcements!!)


Computer Networking will cover many different facets of networking focusing on the Internet. The course will overview the Internet's architecture, protocols, and design decisions that led to its current state. It will also cover killer applications and how ISPs and large content providers like Google deal with the demands of extremely popular online content. The course will also touch on security issues including routing security and online information controls that are implemented in networks around the world (including the US!). Finally, we will cover new frontiers in networking such as data center networks, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and mobile networks that are having impact in companies such as Microsoft, AT&T, Google and VMWare. 

The course material will be delivered via a mix of assigned readings (both classic and cutting edge papers), hands on assignments, lectures and exams.


There is no required textbook for the course. Readings will be posted with the associated lectures.


The course will assume basic familiarity with networking protocols (e.g., TCP, HTTP). The material is appropriate for students that have previously taken the graduate networking course, or equivalent.


Your grade will be computed based on multiple components weight as follows for CS653. Totals add to 110% to allow for a potential of 10% bonus. You must pass both midterms to pass the course.

Component Weighting
Course Project 25%
Midterm exams 15%+15%
Assignments 40% (10% each)
Participation - In Class + Online 15%

Tentative Schedule

All information subject to change. Readings are currently in progress, expect roughly 1 academic paper per class.
Date Comments   Topics Readings
Sept 6 Join Piazza   Intro, History, K07 (optional, but probably helpful)
Sept 11   Architecture SRC84 (optional), Cla88
Sept 13  

Finishing Architecture, Physical, Data Link

Sept 18  

Finishing Data Link, Bridging

Hus14, SG04
Sept 20 A1-Part 1 Due   Network Layer TLS+10
Sept 25   Intradomain / Interdomain Routing GSG12 , ANC+15
Sept 27 Project Proposal Due   Interdomain Routing KSC+12
Oct 2 A1 - Part 2 Due   Transport Layer Jac88
Oct 4   Transport Layer AGM+10
Oct 9  
Oct 10   DNS DNS reflection, KKE16
Oct 11   HTTP, CDNs CFH+13BMS11 (optional)
Oct 16   IXPs and Internet Connectivity ACF+12
Oct 18   IXPs and Internet Connectivity LIM+10
Oct 23 A2 Due   Guest Lecture
Oct 25   Censorship Anonymous14
Oct 30     Midterm1 review
Nov 1   Midterm 1
Nov 6   Guest lecture A. Houmansadr
Nov 8 ProjectMidterm Report Due   No class -- Phillipa traveling  
Nov 13   Censorship WSP09
Nov 15   Routing Security LGS13
Nov 20   No class -- Thanksgiving
Nov 22   No class -- Thanksgiving
Nov 27 A3 Due   Data Center Networks GHJ+09
Nov 29     Data Center Networks NJN11
Dec 4   Software Defined Networks FRZ13
Dec 6 Presentations 11-1 in AG119 Project Poster Presentations
Dec 11 A4 Due   No class -- Phillipa traveling


There are approximately 2 readings per week for the course. One week ahead of time, one person will be assigned to lead online discussion for each of the assigned readings on Piazza. The initial reviewer may take any stance they want on the paper (champion, critic, neutral). They should post a summary of the paper to the Piazza thread related to the reading and summarize the paper's key ideas, strengths and weaknesses. Champions will defend the solution and talk about why the paper is important. Critics will point out shortcomings and discuss alternative approaches. After the discussion leader has posted their summary of the paper other students are expected to participate in the online discussion. 

The discussion leader is responsible for posting their summary midnight the night before the class the reading is assigned for. All other responses are due by midnight on Wednesday (for Monday readings) and midnight on Friday (for Wednesday readings). However, the discussion can continue on after the deadline. 

Please note that the participation component of your grade is weighted proportional to the effort required. You are expected to lead discussion when it is your turn and to engage in discussion for at least 12 papers during the term.

Internet in the News

Each student is expected to prepare a short writeup on a topic related to the Internet that has recently appeared in the popular news, the technical press, blogs, or advocacy Web sites (e.g., the EFF). Topics may include legislation related to the Internet such as SOPA/PIPA, NSA surveillance, large-scale outages, etc. If in doubt run your idea by me first. 

The write up should cover the issues mentioned in the news story, but also explain the underlying technical issues. For example, news about NSA surveillance should include technical details of how the surveillance has been implemented and cover the relevant technical topics. This will require you to dig deeper than what is presented in the news article. 

Students are expected to post their news article along with their summary, any relevant background and their comments and thoughts on the story to Piazza using the iin folder. As part of your participation mark you are expected to read and comment on the Internet in the News write ups of your fellow classmates in a timely manner. You may post your write up any time during the term with a final deadline Dec 1, 2017.

University policies and information

Academic Honesty Statement: Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty. Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Instructors should take reasonable steps to address academic misconduct. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible. Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair. Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent. Please read the UMass Academic Honesty Policy.

Other Academic Regulations: The Office of the Registrar publishes Academic Regulations yearly. You should be familiar with them. Particularly relevant are the policies on attendance, absences due to religious observance, and examinations.

Accommodation Statement: The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.