CS 412/612
Directed Study in Applied Computer Science: Computer Communications
Spring 2000

Course Information



  • Class Times: 1:00-1:50 PM MWF
  • Location: SC 354
  • Office Hours: MWF 2-3:30 pm


This course will be a top-down investigation of computer communications. Have you ever wondered what really happens to that email message between the time you click send and the time your friend reads it? Would you like to understand what happens behind the scenes when you browse the web? We will begin by discussing important applications of computer communication like telnet, ftp, send-mail, web browsers etc. These applications and others like them form the top layer of the ISO reference model, the application layer. We will continue from there down the layers of the ISO reference model into proceedingly lower levels of computer networking technologies. We will discuss how computers send messages through the internet including information about addressing, routing and congestion control. We will talk about reliable vs unreliable transport protocols. Time allowing, we will discuss related topics such as security and the history of communication.


CS142 or equivalent

Each student must have the ability to post their own personal class web page reflecting their own exploration of the class material.


Larry L. Peterson and Bruce S. Davie, Computer Networks: A Systems Approach, 2nd ed., Morgan Kaufmann


For each class, "web-surfing" assignments will be given to allow the students to gain an appreciation of the on-line resources related to this course material.

Approximately every other week problem sets will be assigned. Students will have the option to complete these probelms and turn them in for a grade OR to write a 1-2 page summary/reaction to some related reading chosen from a list provided by the instructor. In either case, students should review the solutions to the problem set to make sure they understand them.

There will be one class project. Students will be able to choose projects of their choice ranging from a programming assignment to a 10-15 page class paper.


There will be a midtem and a final exam.

Attendance and Participation

You will be graded not only on whether you learn the exact material presented in this class but also on whether you actively participate in the quest for exciting information related to this class AND on how effectively you communicate that information to others. I expect that each of us will be both teacher and student throughout the course of this semester.


  • 20% Student's class web page and class participation
  • 20% Bi-weekly written homeworks
  • 20% Class Project
  • 20% Midterm
  • 20% Final

Internet and Computing

I will rely heavily on the class web page and on a class mailing list for distributing information to the class. Please check it at least once before each class. In addition, each student will be assembling a class web page documenting their own exploration of the class materials.