CSS 434: Parallel and Distributed Computing
Spring 2006

TTh 545-750pm

Prof. Munehiro Fukuda


Munehiro Fukuda <mfukuda@u.washington.edu>, room UW1-331, phone 352-3459, office hours: TTh 430-540pm

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 and students will review a topic-related research paper in the class.

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.

Since this year's class is small, let's introduce a seminar-like atmosphere including group discussions and laboratory work in addition to student presentations. This additional work is graded based on your participation.



Work Load and Grading:

Course Work Percentage Achievements Approximately Corresponding Numeric Grade
Programming 1 10% 90s 3.5 - 4.0
Programming 2 15% 80s 2.5 - 3.4
Programming 3 10% 70s 1.5 - 2.4
Programming 4 15% 60s 0.7 - 1.4
Paper Review 12%
Midterm Exam 16%
Final Exam 16%
Group 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,, 4th Edition, George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore and Tim Kindberg, Addison-Wesley Publishers, 2005


Some Programming Textbooks:

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


Programming assignments 1 ~ 3 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.

The final project may be done by a pair of students, in which case both students must achieve an equally amount of work. For the detailed instructions, see the project assignment sheet.

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 Disabled Student Services (DSS) in Bothell Library Annex Building, Room 106, (email: rlundborg@bothell.washington.edu, TDD: 425-352-5303, and FAX: 425-352-5455). 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 two groups, each discussing about a different topic and presenting the discussions in the class. Clik here for more detials.

Topics covered and tentative 434 spring 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 Chapters Reading Assignment
1 Mar 28 System Models 2
(2.1 - 2.3.2)
  Mar 30 Networking 3
(3.2 - 3.3.4, 3.4.1)
Program 1 assigned
2 Apr 4 Interprocess Communication
Lab Work 1 (Sockets)
(4.1, 4.2, 4.3.2)
  Apr 6 Group Communication and MPI
Lab Work 2 (MPI)
4.5, 12.4 pp164-168
3 Apr 11 Distributed Objects and Remote Invocation 5 pp177-219  
  Apr 13 Operating System Support 6 pp221-264 Program 1 due
Program 2 assigned
4 Apr 18 Process Migration 6.4.2, 2.2.3 pp231-234
  Apr 20 Lab Work 3 (RMI and Agents)      
5 Apr 25 Time and Global States 11 pp433-466  
  Apr 27 Paper Review
Group Discussion 1
Reviewer: Belt
Reviewer: Fukuda
6 May 2 Midterm exam in class 2 - 6 pp29-57, 37-42, 69-81, 89-94, 131-144, 148-150, 164-168, 177-219, 221-264, and 484-498 Program 2 due
Program 3 assigned
  May 4 Distributed Shared Memory 18 pp749-781  
7 May 9 Paper Review
Group Discussion 2
Reviewer: Fukuda
Reviewer: Phillis
  May 11 Distributed File Systems 8,13
8 May 16 Paper Review
Group Discussion 3
  Sun NFS
Reviewer: Wallulis
Reviewer: Huseby
Program 3 due
Program 4 assigned
  May 18 Distributed Transactions and Replication 14,15
(14.1-14.3, 15)
9 May 23 Paper Review
Group Discussion 4
Reviewer: Guan
Reviewer: Saric
  May 25 CSS Speaker Series
AgentTeamwork System by Fukuda
10 May 30 Grid Computing No corresponding chapters    
  June 1 Group Discussion 5      
11 June 6 Program 4 Demonstration     Program 4 due (545pm)
  June 8 Final exam in class 8, 11, 13-15, 18 and grid computing pp323-358, 433-466, 545-549, 565-578, 603-656, and 749-781