CSS 434: Parallel and Distributed Computing - Fall 2012

CSS 434: Parallel and Distributed Computing
Fall 2012

TTh 545-745pm at UW1-041

Prof. Munehiro Fukuda


Munehiro Fukuda <mfukuda@u.washington.edu>, room UW1-331, phone 352-3459, office hours: TTh 7:45-830pm

Course Description:

This course introduces the concepts and design of distributed computing systems. Topics covered include message passing, remote procedure calls, process management, migration, mobile agents, distributed coordination, distributed shared memory, distributed file systems, fault tolerance, and grid computing.

The first five weeks focus on the basic mechanism and the Java programming techniques for message passing, process management, and migration. We will use Java sockets, MPI: Message Passing Interface, Java RMI, and UWAgent: a Java-based mobile agent system the professor and his former CSS students have designed. The last five weeks discuss advanced topics, where the instructor will overview each topic; each student will review a topic-related research paper; and all of us will be involved in group discussions on those papers.

Four programming assignments are given: (1) A chat server design with Java sockets, (2) A parallel-computing application programming with MPI Java, (3) A functional/performance comaprison between Java RMI and UWAgent, and (4) A distributed file system implementation using Java RMI. A lab session is planned for each of the first three assignments to get familiar with sockets, MPI, and mobile agents.



Work Load and Grading:

Course Work Percentage Achievements Approximately Corresponding Numeric Grade
Program 1 7% 90s 3.5 - 4.0
Program 2 11% 80s 2.5 - 3.4
Program 3 7% 70s 1.5 - 2.4
Program 4 15% 60s 0.7 - 1.4
Paper Review 12%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Discussions 5%
Lab. Work 3%


75% of the lecture covers the following textbook, while the rest focuses on some advanced topics such as MPI, mobile agents, and some research-oriented topics. To help your understanding, I recommend you should buy this textbook.
  1. Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design,, 5th Edition, George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore, Tim Kindberg, and Gordon Blair, Addison-Wesley Publishers, 2012


Some Programming Textbooks:

The following books and manuals are useful for system, network, and MPI programming.


All programming assignments except program 4 and a paper review are to be done independently. Any collaboration of work will result in severe penalty. You may discuss the problem statement and any clarification with each other, but any actual work to be turned in, must be done without collaboration.
  1. Paper review: must be done by a team of two students.
  2. Program 4: may be done by a team of two students. If you work with a classmate, you must turn in a confidential evaluation of your partner. If you work independently, you will be awarded +5 extra credits.

Any homework is due at the beginning of class on the due date. The submission may be postponed only in emergencies such as accidents, sickness, sudden business trips, and family emergencies, in which case you may turn in yor homework late with a written proof. No make-up exams will be given except under exceptional circumstances. Barring emergencies, I must be informed before the exam.

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Stuents (DRS) in UW1-175, (email: drs@uwb.edu, TDD: 425-352-5303, and FAX: 425-352-3581). If you have a documented disability on file with the DSS office, please have your DSS counselor contact me and we can discuss accommodations.

Course Goals:

The overall goal of CSS 434, "Parallel and Distributed Computing" includes: To strengthen your understanding of fundamental concepts, you are recommended to solve the problems that are given on the final page of each lecture slide, (while some of them will be solved in class discussions.). To review research papers, you must visit the library, search for them, and get prepared for presenting your paper review with the power point. Finally, you need to work in the Linux laboratory, (UW1-320) for testing and evaluating the performance of your distributed program. Therefore, as with most technical courses, besides ability and motivation, it takes time to learn and master the subject. Expect to spend an additional 10 to 15 hours a week outside of class time on the average.


This is a research-flavored course. Each assignment specificaiton only gives you a topic and a guideline in order to work on the assignment. The answer and the quality of assignment work just depend on your enthusiuasm for assignment work. Therefore, there are no specific key answers.
  1. Program 1 (pdf, word): learns how to use Java-based TCP communication through a design of chat client and server program.
  2. Program 2 (pdf, word): exercises how to write a parallel-computing application using MPI Java.
  3. Program 3 (pdf, word): compares RMI and mobile agenets in terms of programmability and performance. Click here to download the UWAgent manual.
  4. Program 4 (pdf, word): designs and implements a very simple distributed file system.
  5. Paper review:requires each student to review a notable research project and to present his/her understanding in the class.
Please read assignment.html to understand the environment you use for assignments and the submission/grading procedures.

Laboratory Work:

We have three laboratory assignments in that we will understand the usage of and programming with Java sockets, MPI, and mobile agents. They are intended to mitigate your learning curve of new programming paradigms and ease your programming work. The grading is based on your attendance.
  1. Lab Work 1: is a hands-on exercise for distributed computing with Java sockets. (1% of an entire grade)
  2. Lab Work 2: is a hands-on exercise for MPI programming. (1% of an entire grade)
  3. Lab Work 3: is a hands-on exercise for distributed computing with RMI and mobile agents. (1% of an entire grade)

Group Discussions:

We are planning to have five group discussions where the class will be divided into four groups, each discussing about a given topic and presenting the discussions in the class. Clik here for more detials.

Topics covered and tentative 434 winter schedule:

Note that this is an approximate ordering of topics. Chapters will take about the allotted time and not all sections in all chapters are covered.

Week Date Topics Lab and Discussions Chapters Reading Assignment
0 Sep 25 System Models   2 pp37-79  
  Sep 27 Networking   3
(3.3 - 3.3.4)
1 Oct 2     3
pp106-111 Program 1 assigned
  Oct 4 Interprocess Communication Lab Work 1 (Sockets) 4
(4.1 - 4.3.2)
2 Oct 9 Group Communication and MPI   4.4, 4.6, 15.4 pp169-174, pp178-180
  Oct 11   Lab Work 2 (MPI)      
3 Oct 16 Remote Invocation   5 pp185-228 Program 1 due
Program 2 assigned
  Oct 18 Operating System Support   7 pp279-334  
4 Oct 23 Process Migration   7.4.2 and
non-textbook contents
  Oct 25   Lab Work 3 (RMI and Agents)      
5 Oct 30 Time and Global States   14 pp595-628 Program 2 due
Program 3 assigned
  Nov 1   Paper Review
Group Discussion 1
Distr. Snapshots(Chandy/Lamport)
Distr. Snapshots(Samadi/Mattern)
Reviewer: Difrancesco, Morrison
Reviewer: Blissett, Carlson
Reviewer: Sweeney
Reviewer: Kniest
6 Nov 6 Midterm exam in class   2 - 6 pp37-98, 106-111, 145-164, 169-174, 178-228, 279-334, and 646-659  
  Nov 8 Distributed Shared Memory   6.5 pp262-274  
7 Nov 13   Paper Review
Group Discussion 2
Reviewer: Okello
Reviewer: Geib
Reviewer: Yan
Reviewer: Abedini, Rutledge
  Nov 15 Distributed File Systems   12
Program 3 due
Program 4 assigned
8 Nov 20   Paper Review
Group Discussion 3
  Sun NFS
Reviewer: Davis
Reviewer: Gilbert
Reviewer: Duston
Reviewer: Matias
Reviewer: Allaouchiche
  Nov 22 Holiday (No School)        
9 Nov 27 Distributed Transactions and Replication   17.1-17.3
  Nov 29   Paper Review
Group Discussion 4
Reviewer: Plotke
Reviewer: Hart
Reviewer: Silva
Reviewer: Azus, Brushchenko
10 Dec 4 Grid Computing
AgentTeamwork at UWB
  No corresponding chapters    
  Dec 6   Paper Review
Group Discussion 5
Reviewer: Oziel
Reviewer: Salama
Reviewer: Manjunath
Reviewer: Ducey
Reviewer: Korman
11 Dec 11 Final exam in class   6.5, 12, 14, 16.2.1-16.2.2, 17.1-17.3, 18 and grid computing pp262-274, 521-564, 595-628, 683-690, 727-740, and 765-816  
  Dec 13 Program 4 Demonstration       Program 4 due (545pm)