Computer Networking • CS 414 & 514

Spring 2014

R. Monroe, xkcd

Table of Contents

Course Description

This a course on computer networking. The course is divided into eight sections. See the schedule for details.

The prerequisite for CS 414 is Computer Architecture (CS 286). A good understanding of operating systems (CS 438) is helpful, as is some programming experience (CS 175–176) and data structures and algorithms (CS 305).

The co-requisite for CS 514 is Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science (CS 502). A good understanding of operating systems (CS 505) is helpful, as is some programming experience (computer programming essentials (CS 501A) at least, program development (CS 501B) is better, data structures and algorithms (CS 503) is best).

The class meets in Howard Hall 305 (the Apple lab; I’m trying to find another classroom) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 pm to 6:20 pm. Classes start on Wednesday, 22 January. There is no class on Monday and Wednesday, 17 and 19 March (Spring Break). Undergraduate mid-term grades are due on Tuesday, 11 March; the last day for withdrawing from the class with a W is Monday, 31 March. Classes end on Monday, 5 May.


Learn about computer network design, implementation, and operation. Emphasis placed on a top-down, software-oriented view of the full ISO OSI network reference model, as well as developing areas of network application.

Diligence and perseverance in this class should move you in a direction to eventually be able to


R. Clayton, Howard 318, Office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:25 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. in HH 318 (the adjunct’s office, next to the CS conference room). I’m also usually happy to talk to you any time you can catch me; setting up an appointment is recommended, see my schedule for details.


There are six tests, one at the end of every section except the first and last sections. Tests are given in class, and are closed book with one page of notes allowed; calculators and computers are not necessary. The tests are cumulative, covering everything in the readings up to and including the section containing the test. The whole class period is allocated to the test; once you finish the test, you may leave. Test answers will be made available off the schedule. There are no mid-term or final exams.

Each test has six questions, each question is worth a maximum of eight points for a maximum total of 48 points per test. The grade range is scaled to the 48-point maximum:

24<B 30
6 <C 12
0 <C–6
F 0

This grade range applies to both CS 414 and CS 514.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of the four highest test grades — the two lowest test grades are dropped. The final grade comprises four grades total; each constituent grade constitutes one-quarter (25%) of your final grade.

All grades are kept with one digit of precision to the right of the decimal point and 0.05 rounded up. No grades are adjusted to a curve; that means that 89.9 is always B+, never an A-.

Pop Quizzes

Pop quizzes occur spontaneously. A pop quiz is no more than five minutes long, and is given as soon as the class period starts. A pop-quiz grade ranges from 0 to 5 (inclusive on both ends) and is unappealable; see the pop-quiz rules for full details.



There are many computer networks textbooks, all more or less the same. This course has a textbook, but it doesn’t have an assigned textbook. Instead, pick a textbook or two you’re comfortable with. As a first cut, compare the book’s table of contents with the schedule to make sure the topics mentioned in the schedule appear in the table of contents. You can glean further advice from a small annotated bibliography of computer networks books.

Please do not interpret “There’s no assigned textbook for this course” to mean “Great! I don’t need a textbook.” Absorbing everything you need to know from lectures won’t be possible, not the least because there won’t be time to cover everything in lectures. Working it out over a textbook or two will give you the time and space to learn what you need to know. In addition, the tests are written assuming knowledge found in basic computer networks textbooks.

Lecture notes and reading assignments were prepared using Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach by James Kurose and Keith Ross. If you have no idea what to do, you should at least get a copy of this book.


Feel free to send me e-mail. Unless I warn you beforehand, I’ll usually respond within a couple of hours; if I don’t respond within a day, resend the message.

Mail relevant to the class will be stored in a hyper-mail archive ( ). If your message is of general interest to the class, I’ll store it, suitably stripped of identification and along with my answer, in the archive.

Home page

This is the class home page; if you’re reading this on paper, you can also find it at ( ). Tests will be available off the schedule at ( ); you should get in the habit of checking the schedule regularly.


The lectures for this class will be recorded and made available via the schedule.


Follow the course on twitter ( ).



People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University’s ADA/504 coordinator to get those needs met. See the Disability Services page for more details.


I have no class attendance policy; you may attend class or not as you see fit. However, I hold you responsible for knowing everything that goes on in class; “I wasn’t in class for that.” is not an acceptable excuse for a wrong answer, or for giving no answer at all.

My attendance policy applies only to lecture attendance; it does not apply to other kinds of attendance which may be required for the course. Repeated failures to meet the attendance expectations set for tests, meetings, projects, labs or other forms of course work will have a bad influence on your grade.

Monmouth University does have a class attendance policy, which you can find in the Academic Information chapter of the Student Handbook. To the extent that I need to keep the record straight, I will take attendance. Attendance lists, however, are entirely for the University’s benefit; I will make no use of them in grading.


I deal with suspected cheating by failing first and asking questions later. Although cheating has many forms, I generally consider cheating to be any attempt to claim someone else’s work as your own; also, I consider both the provider and the user of the work guilty of cheating. See the chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook for more details.

Complaining about Grades

I recognize and encourage a student’s sacred right to complain about their grade. There are, however, a few rules under which such complaining should take place, and those students who don’t follow the rules will be less successful in their complaints than those students who do follow the rules.

First, the only complaint that matters is that something got marked wrong when it was actually right. When you come to complain, be prepared to present, in explicit detail, what it is you did and why you think it’s right.

Second, complaints about a particular test or assignment are only valid until the next test or assignment is due; after that point the book is permanently closed on all previous test or assignment grades.

Missing Tests

Because only four of the six scheduled tests constitute the final grades, there is two-test slack for missing tests. Given the two-test slack, there is no need to schedule a make-up for a missing test.


Learn computer networks from the comfort of your home courtesy of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MIT and OpenCourseWare.

Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols and Practice, a free, open source (kinda) networking textbook along the lines of Kurose and Ross.

A video series on networking fundamentals from Channel 9 at Microsoft.

Another video series on networking from The New Boston.

The last time I taught this course.


Campfire by R. Monroe, xkcd, under a Creative Commons AT NC 2.5 License.

This page last modified on 2014 February 10.