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Distributed Systems. Preamble: Introducing the Course. CSC 253 Gordon Blair, François Ta ïani. Introducing the Team. Lecturing Staff Gordon Blair InfoLab21 Building, Room C15 e-mail: phone: 01524 5-10303 François Ta ïani InfoLab21 Building, Room C16

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preamble introducing the course

Distributed Systems

Preamble: Introducing the Course

CSC 253

Gordon Blair, François Taïani

introducing the team
Introducing the Team
  • Lecturing Staff
    • Gordon Blair
      • InfoLab21 Building, Room C15
      • e-mail:
      • phone: 01524 5-10303
    • François Taïani
      • InfoLab21 Building, Room C16
      • e-mail:
      • phone: 01524 5-10338
  • Guest Slots
    • Paul Grace
      • InfoLab21 Building, Room C21
      • e-mail:
      • phone: 01524 5-10343
    • Phil Greenwood
      • InfoLab21 Building, Room C22
      • e-mail:
      • phone: 01524 5-10347
  • GTA Support
    • Nirmal Weerasinghe
      • InfoLab21 Building, Room C20
      • e-mail:
      • phone: 01524 5-10341

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

aims and objectives
Aims and Objectives
  • To provide an understanding of the fundamental principles underpinning modern distributed systems including the client-server model, RPC/ RMI, clock synchronisation, etc.
  • To supplement this with studies of practical tools and techniques currently available in distributed programming, focussing in particular Java RMI and associated Java-based software.
  • To be able to provided key non-functional properties such as scalability, dependability and security.
  • To provide an insight into current research issues in the distributed systems community.

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

overall syllabus
Overall Syllabus

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

practical work
Practical Work
  • Assessment
    • 70% examination, 30% coursework
  • Design of the practical work
    • Phase 1 (weeks 3-5)
      • 2 hour practical each week on Java RMI and associated mechanisms including security
      • Culminates in first milestone to retrieve your coursework from a secure RMI server (worth ?? Marks)
      • This work must be demonstrated and signed off in the practical session in week 5
    • Phase 2 (weeks 6-10)
      • Mini-project in RMI supported by weekly clinic
      • Description to be obtained from the RMI server (as described above) but description will also be published at the start of week 6 for people who fail to complete phase 1
      • Coursework organised with varying degrees of difficulty
      • This work must be demonstrated and signed off in week 10

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

reading material for the course
Reading Material for the Course
  • [A] Tanenbaum, A. van Steen, M., "Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms", Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN 0-13-088893-1.
    • An excellent book on distributed systems from leading figures in this field
    • The course will follow the material in this book quite closely and in particular will draw material from chapters 1-8 and 10
  • [B] Coulouris, G., Dollimore, J., Kindberg, T., "Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design" (third edition), Addison-Wesley, 2001. ISBN 0-201-61918-0.
    • An equally strong book but perhaps not quite so up to date
    • Excellent source for extra material/ second opinion on the subject

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

expected learning outcomes
Expected Learning Outcomes
  • You should have a strong understanding of what is meant by a distributed system, why people are developing such systems, and what are their potential problems.
  • You should understand the client-server paradigm and the role of middleware technology and be able to relate these to the concepts introduced in the practical stream.
  • You should have a good understanding of RPC, its role in middleware, issues in its design (e.g. transparency), and how it is implemented.
  • You should also be able to compare the RPC service with alternatives such as publish-subscribe or distributed shared memory.
  • You should understand principles of clock synchronisation and also group communication in distributed systems and why these are fundamental underlying services.

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

expected learning outcomes continued
Expected Learning Outcomes (continued)
  • You should understand the importance of scalability in distributed systems and also core techniques to build scalable services.
  • You should be able to appreciate the security vulnerabilities in a modern distributed system, and general security principles to address such threats including cryptography and access control (with special focus on Kerberos).
  • You should understand principles and protocols underlying dependable distributed computing including replication and consistency.
  • You should be able to develop relatively complex distributed systems using Java RMI and should be aware of and able to use added value software such as JMS, Jini and EJB.
  • You should have an awareness of the new developments in the field of distributed systems in such areas as mobility, P2P, etc.

G. Blair/ F. Taiani

for more information
For More Information
  • Web site for the course on the Intranet:

Any questions before we get started…..

G. Blair/ F. Taiani