18-756-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University


Packet Switching and Computer Networks

Course discipline: Networking
Core/Elective:  elective
Units: 12
Lecture/Lab/Rep hours/week: 4 Lecture Hours per Week
Semester/year offered (fall/spring, even/odd/all years): Fall
Pre-requisites:  Basic probability, Proficiency in Programming 

Course description: 

This course provides the theoretical foundations to understand the design of network systems through lectures, seminars, and projects. The topics include SONET, MPLS, GMPLS, Optical networks, packet switch architectures, QoS, Routing, network virtualization (SDN), and other advanced topics in networks. Students will study basic issues of naming and addressing, network scaling, routing and forwarding, and media access. These will be addressed using tools from queueing theory, complexity analysis and graph theory. Students will study both theoretical models and practice Students will develop skills in analytic modelling, collecting and analyzing network data, as well as discrete event simulation. 

Learning objectives:

The objective of this course is to give students the tools to be able to analyze and design components for the rapidly evolving Internet. This includes the ability to develop models that predict performance and to collect and assess performance data. Students will also become familiar with the mechanisms inside of routers and hosts that enable them to scale to the large networks we observe today. It is our objective that students will develop the skills needed to become a practitioner or carry out research projects in this domain.


After completing this course, students should be able to: 

Explain the protocols that underlie the network layer in today’s Internet. 

Analyze network design alternatives

Collect and model network data

Understand the practical challenges to building large-scale hi-speed networks.  

Write efficient simulation tools for modelling network systems.

Interpret current networking research papers. 

Content details:

1. Network topologies, scaling, SONET.

2. Router architecture, switching networks, routing table mechanisms

3. Scheduling and queueing disciplines

4. Virtual circuit networks, ATM, MPLS

5. Quality of Service mechanisms, RSVP, GMPLS

6. Advanced topics: Software defined networks, Cloud computing

Students’ assessment:

25% Homework sets and Projects

10% Reading Summaries

40% Midterms (2 exams)

25% Final