COMP SCI 3012 - Distributed Systems

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2022

A selection of topics from the following: the challenges faced in constructing client/server software: partial system failures, multiple address spaces, absence of a single clock, latency of communication, heterogeneity, absence of a trusted operating system, system management, binding and naming. Techniques for meeting these challenges: RPC and middleware, naming and directory services, distributed transaction processing, 'thin' clients, data replication, cryptographic security, mobile code. Introduction to Java RMI.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 3012
    Course Distributed Systems
    Coordinating Unit Computer Science
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2.5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites One of COMP SCI 1103, COMP SCI 1203, COMP SCI 2103, COMP SCI 2202, COMP SCI 2009 or COMP SCI 2202B
    Assumed Knowledge COMP SCI 2000 and COMP SCI 3001
    Assessment Written exam and/or assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: A/Prof Claudia Szabo

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    In Distributed Systems this course, you will learn a range of fundamental and applied techniques in distributed systems. The learning objectives for Distributed Systems are:
    1. Apply knowledge of distributed systems techniques and methodologies.
    2. Explain the design and development of distributed systems and distributed systems applications.
    3. Use the application of fundamental Computer Science methods and algorithms in the development of distributed systems and distributed systems applications.
    4. Discuss the design and testing of a large software system, and to be able to communicate that design to others.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    2, 3

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    You can perform all the exercise work required for the course in the University computer Labs.
    The programming language used is Java.
    However, if you want to be able to work at home, you could consider installing Java on your own system.
    For more information, go to the Java website --- simply Google "Java".
    Recommended Resources
    Reference books:

    • Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design, G. Coulouris, Jean Dollimore and Tim Kindberg, Addison Wesley, 4th Edition
    • Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms, A.S. Tanenbaum and M. Van Steen, Pearson, 2nd Edition
    Online Learning
    More information about the course can be found online on the Moodle forum of the school.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be taught with lectures and collaborative sessions.
    You are expected to attend the lectures and take part in the activities, and attempt collaborative sessions questions before the session.

    All lectures will be attempted to be recorded, however attendance at the lectures is recommended, due to the large number of activities present in the lectures.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    You are expected to attend all scheduled lecture classes (2hrs per week), and, if scheduled, the collaborative sessions.
    In addition to the schedule contact hours, you are expected to spend an additional 2-4 hours per week after each lecture to consolidate your understanding of it. You will need to allocate up to 7 hours per week on average to work on the assignments and work set in collaborative sessions.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The topics taught in this course can be broadly classified as shown below. The list of topics and their schedule is available on the course web site.

    Local and distributed synchronization
    Remote Operations - latency hiding and reductions
    Failure semantics in RPC
    Distributed file systems
    Consistency models
    Distributed transactions and failures
    2PC, 3PC, PAXOS

    Specific Course Requirements
    Note that COMP SCI 3001 is assumed knowledge for this course - this implies that students are familiar with Socket implementations (particularly in Java), and that students have an understanding of the idea of a protocol and the differences between TCP and UDP.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    The assessment will comprise of two parts: practical programming assignments and collaborative session reports worth 100% of the mark.

    Assessment breakdown

    Component Hurdle Weighting CBOK Areas
    Collaborative sessions No 10% 2 (2.2 - 2.4)
    A1 No 10% 1, 3.3,4.1
    A2 Yes 30% 1, 3.3, 4.1,4.3, 5.4
    A3 Yes 30% 1,3.3,4.1.,4.3,5.4
    A4 No 20% 2.4, 3.2

    CBOK Legend
    This assessment breakdown complies with the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy.

    **CBOK is the Core Body of Knowledge for ICT Professionals defined by the Australian Computer Society. The alignment in the table above corresponds with the following CBOK Areas:

    1. Problem Solving
    1.1 Abstraction
    1.2 Design

    2. Professional Knowledge
    2.1 Ethics
    2.2 Professional expectations
    2.3 Teamwork concepts & issues
    2.4 Interpersonal communications
    2.5 Societal issues
    2.6 Understanding of ICT profession

    3. Technology resources
    3.1 Hardware & Software
    3.2 Data & information
    3.3 Networking

    4. Technology Building
    4.1 Programming
    4.2 Human factors
    4.3 Systems development
    4.4 Systems acquisition

    5. ICT Management
    5.1 IT governance & organisational
    5.2 IT project management
    5.3 Service management
    5.4 Security management

    Details of the Australian Computer Society's Core Bode of Knowledge (CBOK) can be found in this document.
    Assessment Detail
    More information on the assessment is provided online on the course forum. The course has two forms of assessment: summative assessment, provided by the collaborative sessions, and formative assessment provided by the assignments and collaborative sessions' reports.
    All practical assignments must be submitted using the School of Computer Science online Submission System.
    Details are included in each assignment description on the course website. Collaborative practical reports are submitted via email to the course coordinator. The University policy on plagiarism applies on all submissions.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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