Computer Science

Modern Data Communications: COMPSCI 314 Semester 2, City Campus

This page is no longer maintained. Information on the current offering can be found on Canvas. The Canvas link for this course can be found here.

General information

Welcome to COMPSCI 314!
We are looking forward to exploring the exciting world of data communications with you. Starting from first principles, we will look at how we can get information from point A to point B, and how we can do so reliably, in large quantities, and for a very large number of users. You will gain an understanding of the underlying transmission media and the mechanisms with which we can access them, and about the limits on communication imposed by the nature. You will learn how the Internet ticks, so it can support billions of users and end devices without falling over. Moreover, you will learn about the challenges posed by growth and new applications, and about strategies that are being developed to meet them.






Final Exam 70%; Test 15%; Assignments 15% 
(Passes required in both practical and written work)


Nevil Brownlee (Course Coordinator, Room 303S-590,
Ulrich Speidel (Room 303S-594,
Aniket Mahanti (Room 303S-591,


Jun Seo (Room 303S-576,
There are no scheduled tutorials for this course. Please feel free to contact the tutor regarding questions with the assignment and assignment marking.

Class Representative


Time & Location

City campus (Check Student Services online for updated time and location):
Monday,      2-3 pm, Large Chem (301.G50)
Wednesday, 2-3 pm, Large Chem (301.G50)
Friday,         2-3 pm, Large Chem (301.G50)

Recommended Text

Kurose Ross Book Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach by James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross published by Pearson (7th Edition). The course is mostly based on the text (the first part of the course is not based on the book). Copies of the book may be found in the university bookshop. Older editions of the book can be found in the library. Other books of interest are as follows: Computer Networks, 5/e A Systems Approach by Peterson and Davie, Data Communications and Networking, 5/e by Forouzan, and Data and Computer Communications, 10/e by Stallings.

Course Content

The course focuses on the fundamentals of data communications and computer networks. Discussion of computer networks is primarily done using the Internet, the most pervasive computer network linking several billion devices. The Internet protocol suite (also called the TCP/IP stack) that enables communication among the devices on the Internet are studied. Popular applications such as Web, Peer-to-peer, and DNS running on the Internet are studied as well.

The course will be based on the textbook, i.e., lectures and assignments are aimed at directing students to the relevant sections of the textbook. Some sections of the textbook are not covered in the course. The Lectures page will list the sections that are intended to be covered.

Expected topics include: the layered model, physical transmission techniques and coding, data security and integrity, protocols, local area networks, Internet measurement, wide area networks, routing, TCP/IP and application layer protocols.

Aegrotat and compassionate pass information

Students should read the University's web page on this, i.e.,
Exams affected by personal circumstances

Office Hours and Contacts

We are eager to help you with the course. Please feel free to contact us either through email or in person.

Nevil Brownlee is glad to answer email questions. He does not have formal office hours, preferring an open-door policy, so that students can see him whenever they desire, from about 10 am to 4.30 pm. If the time is inconvenient he may ask you to come back later, or perhaps make an appointment.

Ulrich Speidel also has an open door policy, and is happy to answer email questions.

Aniket Mahanti is happy to answer email questions. He is also available during the day to meet students. If you do not find him in his office, then please email to schedule an appointment.

Jun Seo can be contacted by email.

Timetable for 2015 (Provisional)

This table shows the topics expected to be covered in the lectures, together with assignment and test dates. Details are subject to change.

  • The dates listed are the Monday of each week, with all assignments due on Fridays.
  • While this is the general plan of the allocation of topics to each lecture, the division and allocation of material is by no means guaranteed.
  • Topics may very well move slightly as the course develops.
    The numbers at the start of each lecture entry are just the sequential numbers of the lectures.
  • If applicable, for each topic, the textbook sections we expect to cover are shown on the Lectures page.

Week of... Tue Wed Fri Assessment
July 24 Ulrich:
1 What's a signal? Electrical and optical signals
2 Radio signals, signal propagation, decibels 3 Satellite communication, communication channels, Fourier analysis, signals in time and frequency domain Assignment 1 release
July 31 4 Modulation: AM, FM, PM 5 Constellation diagrams: BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM 6 Noise, Shannon-Hartley capacity theorem
August 7 7 Symbol errors, error detection/correction, CRC 8 Hamming codes, LDPC codes, network coding 9 Coding, clocking, and synchronisation
August 14 10 Data compression 11 Analog signals over digital channels 12 Overflow Assignment 1 due
August 21 Nevil:
13 Connections, Interfaces
14 Protocols 15 Transport: UDP, TCP Assignment 2 release
August 28 16 TCP, RTP, SCTP, DCCP 17 LANs -- TEST --  
September 4
September 15
— Mid Semester Break —
September 18 18 Ethernet 19 Switches 20 IPv4, IPv6
September 25 21 IPv4, IPv6 22 Routing and BGP 23 SDN Assignment 2 due
October 2 Aniket:
24 Internet Measurement
25 Internet Measurement 26 P2P Assignment 3 release
October 9 27 Gnutella 28 Gnutella/Kazaa 29 BitTorrent/DHT
October 16 30 DHT/Streaming 31 Streaming/CDN 32 CDN/Wireless Assignment 3 due
October 23 33 Overflow 34 Overflow - -


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