CSCI.6500/CSCI.4961 Distributed Computing over the Internet-- Fall 2014

Instructor:  Carlos Varela
Office:  Lally 308, x6912
Office Hours:  Mondays and Thursdays 11:30am-12:20pm; or by appointment
Meeting Place:  AE 127
Meeting Hours:  Mondays and Thursdays 10am-11:20am
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Course Description

This course will enable students to understand and apply theoretical foundations of programming concurrent, distributed, and mobile computing systems---namely process calculi, actors, join calculus, and mobile ambients. In the practical part, students will compare communication and synchronization aspects in concurrent programming languages following these theoretical models.  Students will also review current research on distributed computing over the Internet, on topics including but not limited to: coordination, mobility, heterogeneity, security, fault-tolerance, scalability, programmability, and verification.


CSCI.4430 and CSCI.4220, or equivalent, or permission of instructor.  The student should be familiar with at least one high-level programming language and basic network programming concepts. In particular, this course will assume familiarity with Java and programming with TCP/IP sockets. Knowledge of programming language semantics and lambda calculus would be helpful but is not mandatory.

Course Themes

Theories of concurrent, distributed, and mobile computing. Programming languages for concurrent, distributed, and mobile systems. Research topics in distributed computing over the Internet.

Learning Outcomes

When the students have successfully completed this course, they will be able to:

Course Contents

  1. Models of Concurrent, Distributed, and Mobile Computing
  2. Programming Languages and Frameworks
  3. Research Topics

Tentative Course Syllabus

Date Topic Grade
08/25 Course Overview. Introduction to Distributed Computing over the Internet Part I -- Models/Theory.
08/28 Pi-Calculus - Introduction
09/04 Pi-Calculus - Operational Semantics
09/08 Pi-Calculus - Bisimilarity and Congruence
09/11 Actors - Introduction
09/15 Actors - Operational Semantics
09/18 Actors - Expression Equivalence
09/22 Join Calculus
09/25 Mobile Ambients; Part I Review
09/29 Partial Exam 30%
10/02 Introduction to Distributed Computing over the Internet Part II -- Programming Languages and Frameworks
10/06 Pict: Concurrency Programming Assignment 1 Due 10/17 10%
10/09 Nomadic Pict: Distribution and Mobility
10/14 Pict: Concurrent and Distributed Programming Techniques
10/16 SALSA: Concurrency Programming Assignment 2 Due 11/02 10%
10/20 No lecture
10/23 SALSA: Distribution and Mobility
10/27 SALSA: Concurrent and Distributed Programming Techniques
10/30 Objective Caml--Programming Assignment 3 Due 11/11 10%
11/03 JoCaml: Concurrency, Distribution and Mobility
11/06 JoCaml: Concurrent and Distributed Programming Techniques
11/10 Introduction to Distributed Computing over the Internet Part III -- Research Topics
11/13 Selected Paper Critiques and Presentations by Students -- Papers Selections Due 10/09 10%
12/01 Final Project/Paper Presentations-- Proposals Due 11/06 30%
Class Participation Extra Credit 5%

Reading Material  -- Parts I and II

Software Links, Papers, and Tutorials -- Part II

Research Papers -- Part III

Students will critique and present selected papers from recent journal and conference publications, including but not limited to: You may also search papers in Google Scholar, or ACM's Digital Library

Academic Integrity

The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines several types of academic dishonesty, all of which are applicable to this class.  Students found in violation of academic dishonesty policies will receive a failing grade for this course.

Please contact the instructor if there is any question about academic (dis)honesty.

Last Updated -- October 30, 2014.