CSCI 6961 - Advanced Distributed Systems - Spring 2020

General Information

Class Time and Place: TF 2:00pm - 3:20pm, Location: Sage 4203
Instructor: Stacy Patterson     sep AT
Office Hours: T 3:30pm - 4:30pm or by appointment Please email me to arrange an online meeting.

A message from Prof. Stewart, Head of the CS Department, about the switch to online instruction due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Course Syllabus

Intro Slides


Course Description

In this course, we will study significant tools, applications, and algorithms at the frontiers of cloud computing, edge computing, and the Internet of Things. The course content will come directly from research papers, articles, and documentation of cloud and edge architectures and technologies. We will work together to develop a deep understanding of this content through class presentations and discussions of this material. Students will also create a research project of their choosing.


  • CSCI-4510/6510: Distributed Systems and Algorithms
  • The pre-requisite may be replaced by suitable background and coursework in network programming and distributed systems. Undergraduates who are interested in taking this class should contact the instructor for permission.

    Useful Links
    Paper Reviews

    You must submit three paper reviews. You can select any papers from the paper list below, provided you are not the presenter of the paper. Reviews must be submitted (emailed to the professor) before the corresponding paper is presented in class.

    Paper reviews consist of a short summary of the paper, a list of three strong points, and a least of three weak points. A an example summary for the E-Paxos paper can be found here.

    The due dates for reviews are as follows:

  • Review 1: due by March 6, 2020, end of day
  • Review 2: due at least 7 days after you submit Review 1 and at least 7 days before you submit Review 3
  • Review 3: due before class on April 7, 2020
  • Projects

    Your project report must be 4 to 6 pages, in IEEE conference format. The report template can be found here.

    Updated project deadlines

  • Meeting to select project topic: March 6, 2020
  • Initial list of references: March 17, 2020 March 24, 2020, end of day (by email)
  • Project status report: March 20, 2020 March 27, 2020 (in class)
  • Final project presentations: Last two weeks of class
  • Project report: April 29, 2020
  • Paper List

  • Replication and Storage Systems
    1. There is more consensus in Egalitarian parliaments, Moraru, Andersen, and Kaminsky, SOSP 2013.
    2. Just Say NO to Paxos Overhead: Replacing Consensus with Network Ordering, Li, Michael, Sharma, Szekeres, and Ports, OSDI 2016.
    3. Low-Latency Multi-Datacenter Databases using Replicated Commit, Mahmoud, Nawab, Pucher, Agrawal, and El Abbadi, VLDB 2013.
    4. vCorfu: A Cloud-Scale Object Store on a Shared Log, Wei, et al., NSDI 2017.
    5. ALOHA-KV: high performance read-only and write-only distributed transactions, Fan, Golab, and Morrey, SoCC 2017.
  • Streaming Systems
    1. Drizzle: Fast and Adaptable Stream Processing at Scale, Venkataraman, Panda, Ousterhout, Armbrust, Ghodsi, Franklin, Recht, and Stoica, SoSP 2017.
    2. ApproxIoT: Approximate Analytics for Edge Computing, Wen, Quoc, Bhatotia, Chen, and Lee, ICDCS 2018.
  • Federated Learning
    1. Communication-Efficient Learning of Deep Networks from Decentralized Data, McMahan, Moore, Ramage, Hampson, and Aguera y Arcas, 2017.
    2. Federated Learning for Mobile Keyboard Prediction, Hard, Rao, Mathews, Ramaswamy, Beaufays, Augentstein, Eichner, Kiddon, and Ramage, 2018.
    3. Towards Federated Learning at Scale: System Design, Bonawitz, et al, 2019.
    4. Federated Learning: Strategies for Improving Communication Efficiency,Konecny, McMahan, Yu, Richtarik, Suresh, and Bacon, 2017
    5. How To Backdoor Federated Learning, Bagdasaryan, Veit, Hua, Estrin, and Shmatikov, 2018.
    6. Expanding the Reach of Federated Learning by Reducing Client Resource Requirements, Caldas, Konecny, McMahan, and Talwakar, 2019.
    7. Federated Learning over Wireless Networks: Optimization Model Design and Analysis, Tran, Bao, Zomaya, Nguyen, and Hong, 2019.
  • Privacy
  • Miscellaneous