Research Profile
Teaching Profile
Professional Profile
Personal Profile
Contact Information

Course Title

EECS/IT 780: Communication Networks (Fall 2020)
Wednesdays, 6:10-9:00 PM, Zoom online sessions (Course Number: 21679 )
Course Web Site: people.eecs.ku.edu/~saiedian/780

Prerequisites and Expected Audience. Eligibility for upper division EECS courses (or industrial experience in computing). Basic working knowledge of computer systems, the Internet, and probability and statistics; basic programming skills, including the ability to use a text editor. Undergraduate students must have taken EECS 461, Math 526, or equivalent, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.


Professor Blake Bryant
Office: BEST 250G
Telephone: 913-897-8791
E-Mail: blake.bryant at ku.edu
Virtual Office Hours (Zoom/Phone Call): Wednesdays, 1:00-5:00 PM (and by appointment)

Professor Hossein Saiedian
Offices: BEST 250 and Nichols 155
Telephone: 785-864-8812 or 913-897-8515
E-Mail: saiedian at ku.edu
WWW: people.eecs.ku.edu/~saiedian
Virtual Office Hours (Zoom/Phone Call): Wednesdays, 1:00-5:00 PM (and by appointment)

Course Overview

Comprehensive in-depth coverage of communication networks with emphasis on the Internet and the PSTN (wired, wireless, and IoT -- Internet of things). Extensive examples of protocols and algorithms are presented at all levels, including: client/server and peer-to-peer applications; session control; transport protocols, the end-to-end arguments and end-to-end congestion control; network architecture, forwarding, routing, signalling, addressing, and traffic management; programmable and software-defined networks (SDN); quality of service, basic queuing (basic M/M/1 and Little's law) and multimedia applications; LAN architecture, link protocols, access networks and MAC algorithms; physical media characteristics and coding; network security and information assurance; network management.


James F. Kurose and Keith F. Ross, Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach , seventh edition, Pearson Addison Wesley, 2017.

Kurose and Ross come with a prepaid subscription to the companion Web site. The inside cover of the book has a scratch-off access code. If you purchase used copy of the book you may follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or on the book Web page to separately purchase a license. This is not required, as the Wireshark labs are available at UMass without a content license.

You must use the 7th edition of this book, which is different from previous editions, in both content and homework problems. You must bring your own copy of the book to the second lecture to show (either hardcopy or electronic); it must not be a library copy. The cheaper Global 7th Edition ($50 paperback vs. $141 hardbound) may have some differences from the US edition* in an attempt by Pearson to earn more profits from students at American colleges and universities. Students are responsible to confirm equivalence. In particular, the course grader will grade all problems assuming the US 7th edition.

Please visit the textbooks' websites for updates and errata.

The primary textbook is used for both undergraduate and graduate courses on (introduction to) database systems. As such many of its chapters will be briefly covered but students are required to thoroughly read them, especially if they do not have formal education in computer science or IT. Our objective is to spend more time on advanced topics such as database design and more emerging database topics.

Supplementary information for the course  (e.g., PowerPoint slides, class announcements, the course syllabus, test dates, and other information) will be made available online. Students are responsible for lecture notes, reading assignments, as well as items distributed during the classroom sessions. Students are also responsible for regularly visiting the class website for topics covered and any date changes.

The order of chapter coverage may be different from the textbook. Unless explicitly stated, students are responsible for all sections in a chapter. In addition to the materials from the main textbook, students are responsible for lecture notes, reading assignments, as well as items distributed during the classroom sessions. Important reading materials as well as lecture slides will be placed on the class website.

Other Resources

Graduate students should develop a habit of reading the flaghship magazines (journals) of the two important computing and IT organizations, namely the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society. See below for a list of these journals.

Lecture Notes


Lab Assignments

Evaluation Criteria (Subject to revision)

Students will be evaluated as follows:

  • Grade Distribution

    * Exam 1: 20%
    * Exam 2: 20%
    * Exam 3: 20%
    * Class participation: 10% (includes quizzes, homework, and lab exercises)
    * Group project: 20%
    * Research Project: 10%

  • Grading Scale
    A = 90%..100%
    B = 80%..89%
    C = 70%..79%
    D = 60%..69%
  • No make-up quizzes are given. No late work will be accepted. (Certain exceptions may be made for family emergencies, religious observance, and illnesses.)
  • All written work must be typeset. It is OK to draw diagrams by hand and then scan them, but they must be legible.

Exams (60% of final grade)

Exams. Exams will be made available through BlackBoard and may vary from 1.5 to 3 hours in length. Specific instructions for taking the exam will be provided on a per exam basis via BlackBoard.

Assignments (10% of final grade)

All assignment and project milestones must be submitted electronically through the class BlackBoard site. If email submissions are necessary for unforeseen reasons, files should be sent as PDF email attachment, and must have a filename of the format lastname-assignment-type[-number].pdf in all lower case letters with no spaces.

Homework and Labs. Homework assignments are intended to give practice in problem solving and quiz your understanding of material between exams. Laboratory assignments will generally be assigned through the course BlackBoard site. Specific assignments and dates are subject to change between course offerings and will be finalized during the semester.

Quizzes. Students are expected to read assigned textbook sections and other material, as well as carefully study the online lecture notes before the lecture in which material is presented. This may be checked with a short quiz at the beginning of classes consisting of questions randomly chosen from the readings or lecture notes on the material to be covered.

Group Project (20% of final grade)

Students will establish working groups during the first two weeks of class, typically consisting of 3-4 students. Projects should involve a demonstration, or practical application of a networking concept related to the course. Groups will submit a proposal for a topic no later than the fourth week of class. Groups will be expected to submit a literature review supporting their project on the seventh week of class.

Groups are encouraged to come up with their own ideas, but here are a few possibilities:

  • Develop a custom program using network sockets that may be used as an administrative tool (e.g. measure bandwidth, probe a network, or test functionality/quality of service)
  • Demonstrate a network security concept. For example: demonstrate a network replay attack, execute a man in the middle attack, or manipulation of an insecure networking protocol (e.g. spoofing email via header manipulation)
  • Recreate a contemporary network security threat (e.g. shell shock, eternal blue) in a laboratory environment
  • Evaluate different networking protocols that perform similar functions (e.g. different interior gateway protocols, different QoS strategies, different network failover techniques)
  • Propose and evaulate a way to improve network security (e.g. deploy firewall [with specific configuration settings], discuss network architecture, deploy network encryption)

If you are planning to do an M.S. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation in the area of networking, you may use this opportunity to begin the background reading on a topic.


Three initial milestones are intended to insure that you are on track for a quality paper. Each one is due at 23:59 (midnight) on the date specified in the course schedule table by email as a PDF attachment to the instructor and GTA. You will generally receive feedback for each milestone the following week, indicating that you should proceed or Requiring resubmission with modifications.

  1. Topic proposal due week Sep 09 Think about a couple of topic ideas you might like to do, and do some preliminary research on them. Write a paragraph on each one, and provide one to three references for each. Submit this with the exact Subject line EECS780 - project ideas
  2. Literature review due week Sep 30: Once we've agreed that one of your ideas are reasonable, expand the idea into a two to five page literature review. The purpose of the literature review is to gather additional information on the chosen topic and explain how it is relevant to communication networks. The length of the paper is less important than how well this review articulates the importance/relevance of the topic. This review should include five (or more) properly formatted references. You should only include references that you are actually used within the review. Submit this with the exact Subject line EECS780 - project literature review
  3. Presentation/Demonstration due week Nov 18: Student project presentations will be conducted during the final two weeks of class. Presentation should be approximately 15-20 minutes in length in order to adequately cover the topic and potential questions from other students. Presentations/projects will be evaluated more heavily on the quality of the work or insights gained rather than the amount of time consumed during the presentation; therefore, a well rehearsed presentation that flows smoothly and takes less time will earn higher marks than a poorly performed presentation that takes longer to communicate. Slides or other materials used during the presentation should be submitted via email with the subject line- EECS780 - group project presentation

You should practice your presentation to friends or the mirror several times and keep track of the elapsed time. Continue practicing until you are confident with how long you will take. The time alloted will be announced in the schedule page, but is likely to be 15 or 20 minutes, depending on class size. Significant credit will be deducted if you go over time.

All students are expected to listen and ask questions at the end of each presentation. This will contribute to your class participation grade.

Research Projects (10% of final grade)

Graduate students are expected to conduct independent research and reading outside class. There two options, described below.

Option 1: Write a term paper. Students will prepare and submit a term paper exploring topics related to network communications. Term paper topics must be approved by the course instructor. The term paper should be between 3,000-6,000 words in length and demonstrate firm understanding of the chosen topic.

Term paper milestones: (1) Paper proposal due week 3, (2) Term paper outline due week 6, (3) Term paper initial draft due week 9, (4) Final version due week 13 (November 18). See guidelines for these milestones here: Common Resources.

Option 2: Paper summaries. Select 10 papers related to networking and emerging technologies published within the last four years and from reputable scholarly journals. Strive for papers that are between 7--15 (UPDATED) pages in length. Provide the list of proposed papers to review to the instructor for approval no later than week 3 (09 September). Starting on week 4, students will submit a two page minimum summary of one paper from the list, with an additional summaries submitted for subsequent entries each following week (e.g. summary of paper 1 on week 5, summary of paper 2 on week 6 … summary of paper 9 on week 13, [skip Thanksgiving], summary of paper 10 on week 15). Acceptable scholarly journals for papers to review are:

  • IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
  • IEEE Transactions on Communications
  • IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing
  • IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
  • IEEE Transactions on Multimedia
  • Communications of the ACM
  • IEEE Computer
  • IEEE Network
  • IEEE Communications
  • Computer Networks (Elsevier)
  • Journal of Cloud Computing (Springer)
  • Journal of Network and Systems Management (Springer)
  • Distributed Computing (Springer)
  • Network Security (Elsevier)
  • Neural Networks (Elsevier)

See the paper reviews guidelines before submitting your list and before writing your reviews: Common Resources. (Note: the guidelines were written primarily for the software engineering students; OK to ignore the SE journals listed there.)

Computer Accounts

Laboratory exercises require access to a Linux-based computer. Virtual machines hosted within the University of Kansas cloud environment are available to students and contain all support files necessary to complete laboratory exercises. Accessing the University of Kansas cloud infrastructure requires a VPN connection through the KUAnywhere VPN. Alternatively, students may choose to host local virtual machines, or install software on their own computers to complete laboratory assignments.

KUEC Location (for Lawrence Students)

Not relevant for fall 2020. For Kansas City residents, the Edwards location is 2.4 mi. south from the Quivera Road exit of the southwestern portion of the I-435 loop to 127th St. For Lawrence residents this is approximately 30 miles / 50 km east of the Lawrence Campus, a 40 minute drive mostly along the K-10 expressway. A parking permit is not needed on the Edwards Campus. The K-10 Connector bus is a service used by many students between the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Weekly Schedule

The following is the weekly semester schedule of lecture topics and all related curricular activities. Some referenced documents may be password-protected. The password will be publicized in class.

Week 1: Wednesdays August 26

Discussion topics: Administrative, ethics; the big picture (overview of the OSI model)

Laboratory Assignment: lab 1 (ungraded)

Week 2: Wednesdays September 2

Discussion topics: History of the Internet and architecture

Reading: Kurose Chapter 1

Laboratory Assignment: lab 2 (assigned)

Week 3: Wednesdays September 9

Discussion topics: Networked Applications and Social Networking NET-AL

Reading: Kurose Chapter 2

Laboratory Assignment: lab 3 (assigned)

Week 4: Wednesdays September 16

Discussion topics: End-to-End Transport NET-TL

Reading: Kurose Chapter 3

Week 5: Wednesdays September 23

Discussion topics: End-to-End Transport NET-TL

Discussion topics: Exam 1

Week 6: Wednesdays September 30

Discussion topics: Network Layer: Addressing, Forwarding, Signalling NET-NL

Reading: Kurose Chapter 4

Week 7: Wednesdays October 7

Discussion topics: Network Layer: Routing NET-NR

Reading: Kurose Chapter 5

Laboratory Assignment: lab 4 (assigned)

Week 8: Wednesdays October 14

Discussion topics: Link Layer and LANS

Reading: Kurose Chapter 6

Week 9: Wednesdays October 21

Discussion topics: Link Layer and LANs NET-LL

Discussion topics: Exam 2

Week 10: Wednesdays October 28

Discussion topics: Mobile and Wireless

Reading: Kurose Chapter 7

Week 11: Wednesdays November 4

Discussion topics: Security Survivability and Resilience

Reading: Kurose Chapter 8

Week 12: Wednesdays November 11

Discussion topics: Multimedia and Session Control

Reading: Kurose Chapter 9

Week 13: Wednesdays November 18

Discussion topics: Student Group Presentation

Week 14: Wednesdays November 25

Discussion topics: No class (Thanksgiving Break)

Week 15: Wednesdays December 2

Discussion topics: Study week

Week 16: Wednesdays December 9

Discussion topics: Comprehensive final exam

Attendance, classroom presentations by students or guest speakers

Attendance is important and required. If a student misses a class session, he or she will be entirely responsible for learning the materials missed without the benefit of a private lecture on the instructor's part. Furthermore, the student will be responsible for finding out what assignments may have been given and when they are due.

We may have student and/or guest presentations. Students are expected to actively participate in all classroom presentations and discussions, ask questions, and regularly make contributions such as offering comments, responding with good answers, and providing feedback.

Suggested readings

The textbook is an excellent survey and tutorial resource. Most up-to-date topics on topics discussed in class can be found in technical journals and recent conference proceedings. Students should develop a habit of regularly browsing IEEE Software, IEEE Computer, Communications of the ACM, IEEE Security & Privacy, IEEE Network, IEEE IT Professional, IEEE Cloud Computing, and similar magazines.

Email communications

E-mail communication is fast, flexible, and effective. You are expected to have an @ku.edu email account and regularly check it. Important classroom notes will be communicated via email.

You are a graduate student registered in a graduate course offered by the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas, a top regional and a nationally ranked institution. Your communications, especially written communications (composition, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc), must reflect that status.

Do not send email in HTML format; it will not be processed. Unless you are specifically asked to send a document (in PDF format), send text-only emails in text-only format.  See the Guidelines for Submitting Electronic Documents.

Common policies

In-classroom policy. Students are expected to come to the class on time, be attentive and engaged, conduct themselves professionally, engage in informative discussions, and avoid anything that could cause a distraction or detrimental either for other students learning or for the instructor's presentations. Profanity and swearing is not allowed.

Academic integrity/dishonesty policy. The definitions and consequences of institutional academic integrity policies will used. Academic dishonesty "includes giving or receiving of unauthorized aid on examinations or in the preparation of assignments or reports, knowingly misrepresenting the source of any academic work, falsification of research results, and plagiarizing of another's work."

Please take the KU Academic Integrity Quiz. Also, please see the following section entitled "Academic integrity during the pandemic."

Late exam-taking policy. If a student will have to take an exam at a later time (due to an excused and verified absence), he or she will be asked to make the following pledge and sign it: I have been granted the privilege to take this exam on _____________ because I was unable to take it on ______________ due to an excused absence. I pledge that I will not obtain from anyone by any means (in writing, speaking or via digital communications) any information about the exam.

Attendance policy. Attendance is important and required. If a student misses a class session, he or she will be entirely responsible for learning the materials missed without the benefit of a private lecture on the instructor's part. Furthermore, the student will be responsible for finding out what assignments may have been given and when they are due. Exceptions will be made for family emergencies, religious observance, and illnesses. Verification of absence may be required.

Cell phone policy. Cell phones should be turned off before coming to the classroom. Cell phone use for the purposes of texting, email or other social media should be avoided. Earphones for music are OK during lab work or individualized problem solving, as long as the volume allows you to hear announcements. Also cell phone or other cameras may be used to photograph projects and the whiteboard but avoid shots that include the presenter.

Laptop policy. It is OK to use laptops, tablets or similar devices for taking notes but turn off audio and avoid any possible uses (e.g., Web surfing or social media visits) that could cause distraction for others.

Incomplete grade policy. "Incomplete (I) grades are used to note, temporarily, that students have been unable to complete a portion of the required course work during that semester due to circumstances beyond their control. Incomplete work must be completed and assigned an A-F or S/U grade within the time period prescribed by the course instructor. After one calendar year from the original grade due date, an Incomplete (I) grade will automatically convert to a grade of F or U, or the lapsed grade assigned by the course instructor."

Accommodations for students with disabilities. The University of Kansas is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for special accommodations may be made thru the KU Student Access Services.

KU's diversity policy statement. As a premier international research university, the University of Kansas is committed to an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment that nurtures the growth and development of all. KU holds steadfast in the belief that an array of values, interests, experiences, and intellectual and cultural viewpoints enrich learning and our workplace. The promotion of and support for a diverse and inclusive community of mutual respect require the engagement of the entire university.

KU's sexual harassment policy. The University of Kansas prohibits sexual harassment and is committed to preventing, correcting, and disciplining incidents of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. Sexual harassment, sexual violence, and a hostile environment because of sex are forms of sex discrimination and should be reported. (“Sexual Harassment” means behavior, including physical contact, advances, and comments in person, through an intermediary, and/or via phone, text message, email, social media, or other electronic medium, that is unwelcome; based on sex or gender stereotypes; and is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s academic performance, employment or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities or by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.)

Commercial note-taking ventures. Pursuant to the University of Kansas’ Policy on Commercial Note-Taking Ventures, commercial note-taking is not permitted in this course. Lecture notes and course materials may be taken for personal use, for the purpose of mastering the course material, and may not be sold to any person or entity in any form. Any student engaged in or contributing to the commercial exchange of notes or course materials will be subject to discipline, including academic misconduct charges, in accordance with University policy. Please note: note-taking provided by a student volunteer for a student with a disability, as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, is not the same as commercial note-taking and is not covered under this policy.

Wearing a mask is a must during the pandemic. I do not anticipate our class to visit in person during this semester but if you will have to make a trip to the campus, please carefully follow KU's safety and health policies. To protect all of us, everyone must wear a mask in the classroom, lab, or faculty/staff offices as required by the Protect KU Pledge and by University policy. Violations of the mask policy are treated as academic misconduct. If one goes to a class/lab without a mask, he/she will asked to put one on. If you do not put on a mask when asked, you will have to leave class. Violations will be reported, and consequences will follow, up to and including suspension from the course.

Please use the CVKey app for self-screening to help determine if you should attend in-person class activities. If you choose not to use the app or do not have a compatible device, please use the paper health assessment form. The app and the paper form are available at cvkey.ku.edu.

Please visit KU's safety and health webpage: Protect KU webpage; itprovides information about safety policies, including social distancing and masks.

Academic integrity during the pandemic

The University of Kansas, the School of Engineering, and in particular, the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (EECS) have zero tolerance for academic dishonesty and academic misconduct.

When an exam or quiz is not administered in-person (in a classroom), a student will be asked to sign off on a Honor Pledge statement similar to the following:

I have been granted the privilege to take (a part of) an exam at home. I declare that I did not obtain from anyone by any means (in writing, speaking or via digital communications, or exploring the Internet for possible answers) any information about the exam other than reviewing my course textbook(s) and classroom notes before the exam. By signing this statement, I declare that the answers to the exam questions are entirely my own (i.e., they are my synthesis, my words, my writings, my solutions).

Of course the above also applies to homeworks.

As implied above, unless specifically stated (like for the team project tasks), a student is expected to do their exam or homework individually without any collaborative efforts with anyone else.

If a student is caught violating the above, their case will be forwarded to the Graduate Studies committee for appropriate disciplinary measures.

Blackboard features.To further facilitate academic integrity, the following features of the Blackboard (Bb) learning management system will be utilized:

  • Each exam and quiz will be conducted synchronously, will be scheduled on a regular weekly session (students are always be encouraged to leave open their live Zoom video streams).
  • Each exam or quiz will have a limited and narrow time (set via a timer) to be completed and each person will get only one chance to do it.
  • Each exam or quiz will have about the same amount of time as an in-person exam or quiz, plus some additional Bb overhad time.
  • Exam and quiz questions will be randomly numbered for each person. Furthermore, the multiple choice, matching and similar questions will have randomized choice selections.
  • Exam and quiz questions will be displayed one-at-a time.
  • The "originality checking" mechanisms of Bb (it's called SafeAssign) will be utilized for exams but also assignments. Bb is able to check written responses against online databases of previously published works and trace sentences or clauses to other sources.
  • Bb features to prohibit printing, copying/pasting of exams will be turned on.
The ACM's and IEEE's code of ethics. As IT and computing professionals and/or as engineers, you should be familiar with the ACM's (IT, computing) and IEEE (engineering) codes of ethics and apply them during your academic and professional careers. These are lifelong commitments to integrity and professional conduct.

We will review these during the first class session, but you are strongly encouraged to review these codes in detail:

From the ACM's preamble: Computing professionals' actions change the world. To act responsibly, they should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct ("the Code") expresses the conscience of the profession.

From the IEEE's preamble: We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree.

The School of Engineering Statement on EdTech. "With the switch to online teaching as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, professors and instructors at the KU School of Engineering are aware that some students are actively posting homework, laboratory, and exam questions and responses to EdTech services (e.g., Chegg) even during exam time frames.

Keep in mind that when a person signs up to participate by either uploading, and/or downloading, and/or using posted material from these sites, the “terms of service” that are agreed to do not protect the person when KU and/or the School of Engineering decide to conduct investigations related to academic misconduct (e.g., plagiarism and/or cheating).

In fact, EdTech services, like Chegg, retain contact information of students who use their services and will release that information, which is traceable, upon request. Using these services constitutes academic misconduct, which is not tolerated in the School of Engineering. It violates Article 3r, Section 6 of its Rules & Regulations, and may lead to grades of F in compromised course(s), transcript citations of academic misconduct, and expulsion from the University of Kansas.

If unsure about assignments, it is important that students use the allowable available resources, such as instructor office hours, graduate teaching assistants, and/or tutoring. The School of Engineering wants students to be successful; cheating is not the way to attain that success."

Minimal Zoom etiquettes

Sign in. Login with your full first name and last name as listed on the class roster. Do not use a nickname or other pseudonym when you log in. It makes it impossible to know who is in attendance.

Audio. Mute your mic (lower-left corner of the Zoom screen) after you login and whenever you are not speaking; it will help to avoid or minimize background noise and distractions.

Video. All students are encouraged to turn on their video streams. It is helpful to see each other, just as in an in-person sessions, and makes class presentations for me and other students more lively. You may use a virtual background; virtual backgrounds are not perfect but are much better than black screens.

Stay engaged. Close any apps on your computer that are not relevant and turn off notifications. Engage in classroom discussion. Ask questions; it is OK to ask a question via a chat dialog or by raising your hand, but it is perfectly OK to just interrupt me as I may not immedaitely notice a raised hand or a chat question.

Giving a presentation. If you have to make a presentation, you will become a co-host and will be able to share your screen. When you are done with your presentation, stop the shared screen. You might want to use a headset with an external mic for best hearing and speaking capabilities.

Virtual office hours. Office hours will be held virtually. To avoid running idle Zoom video sessions, please send an email (or call) for a Zoom meeting and a Zoom session will be launched using the same classroom Zoom session ID and password. Day time calls to the office phone number will be automatically transferred to my mobile number.