Understanding Networked Computing

Last modified 11/22/99--PR
Class home page
Course Description
Class meets: Mondays, 1PM-4PM, 311 West Hall

Professor: Paul Resnick
Office hours: Mondays, 4-5PM and Thursdays, 4-5PM, 314 West Hall
email: presnick@umich.edu
phone: 734-647-9458

TA: Junho Song
Office hours: Fridays 4-5PM and Sundays 3-5PM, DIAD Lab, 4th floor, Shapiro Library
email: junsong@umich.edu
ICQ# 29249180


A textbook by David Messerschmitt, "An Application Perspective on Networked Computing", will be available early in the semester. Until then, I'll be handing out photocopies of the early chapters.

There will be a few other assigned readings. They will either be handed out in class or available on the Web.

You will also frequently be required to scan the technology press (e.g., HotWired, InformationWeek, Network Computing) for stories related to our topic for the week.

Class Participation

You are expected to complete the assigned readings before class and be prepared to discuss them. I will employ the method known as "cold-calling". That is, I will call on students even if they have not raised their hands. I recognize that this is a very stressful thing for many people, but it significantly raises the level of discussion in class.  If you are not prepared, you may "pass" when called on. Every student gets one free "pass" for the semester. After that, it will hurt your class participation grade.

You will also be expected to participate in asynchronous discussions, through the class WebBoard.

You will be graded on the quality as well as the quantity of your participation. An important goal of this class is to allow you to participate in conversations on technical topics. That means you not only have to acquire technical vocabulary, but you have to use it appropriately.


Most weeks, homework will be assigned. Homework should be submitted before class each Monday, in paper form unless otherwise specified. For some homeworks, you will have the option of working in pairs or groups. Some of the homework assignments will be ungraded: in those cases, you will write comments on each other's papers. Homework may involve one or more of the following activities:

Each week you will also be required to send, via email, by midnight on Sunday (but preferably a day earlier), one question or comment about the assigned reading. These questions and comments will play a significant role in structuring our classroom time. Send your message to both junsong@umich.edu and presnick@umich.edu, and use the following as the subject line:
"[SI540] comments".

For extra credit, you can also suggest in your email an industry news item to be discussed during the "Industry Week in Review" segment of the class. Also for extra credit, you can offer to tell an "I wish I'd known" story about some prior experience where it would have helped to know concepts from this week's text, or an "I'm glad I knew" story about some experience you had this week (perhaps in another class) where you were able to make use of concepts discussed earlier in the course.

Study Groups

There are no group projects in this class. You will, however, be required to join a study group. As part of the regular homework, there will frequently be discussion questions. You will be expected to discuss such questions via email or web-based conferencing with other members of your study group. You are  also encouraged to discuss the homework questions and share tips with each other, but don't post complete answers.

You can form your own study group of 4-8 people. Send the list of names to Junho Song (junsong@umich.edu) and he will set up a private WebBoard conference for you.


There will be an in-class final exam.

Collaboration Policy

For homework, the default policy is that you may (and are encouraged to) discuss questions and general approaches to solutions with other students in your study group, but not specific answers. We are able to monitor the WebBoard for your study group and will give you a warning if you are sharing answers too explicitly. If you communicate with others through mechanisms outside the WebBoard, you must write down on your assignment who you collaborated with and the nature of your discussions.

There may be homeworks that specifically specify different collaboration policies (e.g., allowing a group of people to hand in a single set of answers).


Final 40%
Class participation 20%
Homework 40%

Class participation consists of three components: what you say in class, the questions about the text that you send in the day before class, and your participation in the class email and web-based discussion fora.

I expect the grade distribution in SI540 to be approximately half A and A-minus, half lower than that. Occasionally, a class as a whole will perform exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly over the course of a semester, in which case the overall distribution of grades might shift up or down.



Month Day Topic Read before class HW Due
Sep 13 Introduction; History of Computing Chapter 1 (actually, you won't be able to read this one before class, because it will be handed out in class.)  
  20 Yom Kippur-- no class    
  27 Applications of Networked Computing Chapters 2 and 3, article on CSCW applications HW 1: using and imagining applications
Oct 4 Computing Basics: data, processing, and I/O 4.1; LMC handout; readings on: HW2: LMC program
Oct 5,8 optional small-group sessions: inside a PC; sign up on Sept. 27 no readings  
  11 Computing basics: communication links 20.3, 20.4, 20.5, web supplement on shared communication links
HW3: representation, OS, compilers
  18 Architecture: infrastructure, hierarchy, modularity, and layering 4.3, 4.4, chapter 5, chapter 6 HW4: comm. links; explaining PC ads
  25 Industry Structure Chapter 7 HW5: architecture
Nov 1 Economics and Policy Chapter 8; Shapiro and Varian excerpts  
  8 Databases and markup languages 15.1, 15.2, web readings:  HW6: economics and policy
  15 The Application Lifecycle (Bill Aikman, guest) Chapters 9, 10,  11.1-11.2 
 Supplement on OOP; Supplement with shopping cart example
Optional: Supplement with Java program for bank account
  22 Network communication protocols Chapters 12, 18, 19 HW8: XML and PGP
  22,23 Optional small-group session touring the SI computing infrastructure (sign up Nov. 15) no reading  
  29 Security Chapter 13, supplement to chapter 19 on network security  
Dec 6 Transactions; Concurrency Control; Mobile Code 15.3, 16.2-16.3, 17.1-17.3

Reading on load balancing from HotWired.

HW9:  networks; PGP intro

HW10: security and cryptography

  13 The UM Network (ITD guest?) overview document on UM network  HW11: transactions and concurrency control
  14 Review for final exam 6-7:30PM    
  17 Final Exam 4:00-6:00PM