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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Informatics : Informatics

Postgraduate Course: Distributed Systems (Level 11) (INFR11022)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Informatics CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) Credits10
Home subject areaInformatics Other subject areaNone
Course website Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionA distributed system is broadly categorised as a collection or network of loosely coupled, autonomous computers that can communicate with each other and execute logically separate computations, though these may be related to concurrent computations on other nodes.

* The nodes are relatively loosely coupled.
* Each node is a self-contained autonomous computer with its own peripherals.
* The system can survive various categories of node and network failures.
* The nodes may execute logically separate computations, though these may be related to concurrent computations on other nodes.
* The system is asynchronous.

Distributed systems have become pervasive---many applications now require the cooperation of two or more computers--yet the design and implementation of such systems remain challenging and complex tasks. Difficulties arise from the concurrency of components, the lack of a global clock and the possibility of independent failure of components. Moreover designs must aim to provide inter-operability, transparency and autonomy.

The emphasis of this module is on gaining understanding of the principles and concepts that are used to design distributed systems and experience of software platforms which underpin their development.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Distributed Systems (Level 10) (INFR10012)
Other requirements This course is open to all Informatics students including those on joint degrees. For external students where this course is not listed in your DPT, please seek special permission from the course organiser.

Some prior programming ability is assumed.
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  No Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 76 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 75 %, Coursework 25 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
1 - have an understanding of the principles of distributed system and be able to demonstrate this by explaining them;

2 - be able to give an account of the trade-offs which must be made when designing a distributed system, and make such trade-offs in their own designs;

3 - have developed practical skills of implementation of distributed algorithms in software so that they will be able to take an algorithm description and realise it in software;

4 - be able to give an account of the theoretical models used to design distributed systems and to manipulate those models to reason about such systems.

5 - be able to review appropriate literature and write a summary of an emergent area of distributed systems.

6 - The course presents a large amount of material, some of it in case study form, so the students additionally develop skills of assimilation.

7 - This course will teach students the principles of distributed systems, in particular those aspects which make such systems difficult to design and develop.
Assessment Information
Written Examination 75
Assessed Assignments 25
Oral Presentations 0
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 1. Introduction

2. Fundamental Concepts of Distributed Systems: Architecture models; network architectures: OSI, Internet and LANs; interprocess communication

3. Time and Global States: Clocks and concepts of time; Event ordering; Synchronization; Global states

4. Coordination: Distributed mutual exclusion; Multicast; Group communication, Byzantine problems (consensus)

5. Distribution and Operating Systems: Protection mechanisms; Processes and threads; Networked OS; Distributed and Network File Systems (NFSs)

6. Peer-to-peer systems: peer-to-peer routing and peer-to-peer frameworks as well as history, challenges, advantages.

7. Security: Security concepts; Cryptographic algorithms; Digital signatures; Authentication; Secure Sockets

Relevant QAA Computing Curriculum Sections: Distributed Computer Systems
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list * George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore and Tim Kindberg, Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design, 4th edition, Addison-Wesley, 2005. (Main textbook).
* Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Maarten Van Steen, Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms, Prentice Hall, September 2001.
* Nancy A. Lynch, Distributed Algorithms, Morgan Kaufmann, 1996.
* Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Computer Networks, 3rd ed., Prentice-Hall, 1996.
* R. Chow and T. Johnson, Distributed Operating systems and Algorithms, Addison-Wesley, 1997.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Lectures 20
Tutorials 0
Timetabled Laboratories 0
Non-timetabled assessed assignments 40
Private Study/Other 40
Total 100
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Mary Cryan
Tel: (0131 6)50 5153
Course secretaryMiss Kate Farrow
Tel: (0131 6)50 2706
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