Computer Networks

CSC 364
Grinnell College
Spring 2007
MWF 1:15-2:05, Science 2435
Instructor: Janet Davis (contacting me)


About this course

Welcome to the spring 2007 session of CSC 364, Computer Networks.  In this class, I hope you learn not only how the Internet works, but why it is designed the way it is. Although the Internet has been a remarkable success, we'll also consider the limitations of its design.

We'll consider the following problems:

Alongside these problems, we are concerned (as ever in computer systems) about the goals of functionality (what does the network do?) and performance (how fast or efficiently does is it done?). However, as suggested by the problems above, the players are many and trade-offs are complex. Our central concern is the design and implementation of protocols: sets of rules that network components follow so they can work together. 

My goals are for you to

I expect you to be comfortable programming in Java and C.

Learning activities

Rather than spending precious class time telling you what you can read in the text, I want to use class time to go beyond the text: making clarifications, working through examples, considering context, weighing design trade-offs, debating goals, questioning assumptions, and so forth.  So we can work at this higher level, it is imperative that you come to class on time and prepared to participate.

In reviewing the schedule for the course, you'll note that there is one or more reading for most class meetings. These readings come from our textbook, the research literature, and a variety of other resources available on the Web. To facilitate the effective use of class time, I expect you to do the reading and submit discussion questions before class.

In addition to daily reading and discussion, you'll apply what you have learned in written homework. You'll engage in the design and implementation of network protocols though a significant programming project. You'll demonstrate what you have learned in two exams and a technical presentation.

I will also suggest activities for extra credit throughout the term. You may propose activities for extra credit as well.

Grading policies

Each type of assignment has its own late policy and collaboration policy.

I will use the following scheme as a base for weighting grades for individual activities in the final grade:

Participation 10%
Discussion questions 10%
Written homework 15%
Programming project 20%
Technical presentation 10%
Midterm exam 15%
Final exam 20%

I do not believe in "grading on a curve"; I would be pleased if you all earned A's in this course.


If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accomodations, let me know early in the semester so that we can work together to meet your learning needs.  You will also need to provide documentation of your disability to the Academic Advising Office, located on the third floor of the Rosenfield Center (x3702).

Janet Davis (

Created January 17, 2007
Last revised January 21, 2007