Advanced Computer Networks Spring 2016


    • 16.09.2016 10:00-12:00 (CAB F 78)
    • 21.09.2016 14:00-16:00 (CAB F 78)
  • Exam: Friday 26.08.2016, 9-11am
  • Second project assignment online (Assignment 8).
  • First project assignment online (Assignment 7).
  • No class or exercise session next week (March 28 - April 1)
  • Slides for lecture 5 available
  • Solution for assignment 3 is available.
  • Assignment 4 is up
  • Slides for fourth lecture are up
  • Solutions for assignment 1 and 2 are available (login with your nethz account)
  • Assignment 3 is up
  • Slides for third lecture are up
  • Slides for second lecture are up
  • Slides for first lecture are up



This course covers a set of advanced topics in computer networks. The focus is on principles, architectures, and protocols used in modern data center networks. 

The goal of the course is to build on basic networking course material in providing an understanding of large, complex networked systems, and provide concrete experience of the challenges through a series of lab exercises.

Topics of this course include:

  • Networking Principles (naming, end-to-end protocol design, network state management, etc.)
  • Data center architectures (topology, addressing, etc.)
  • Data center network protocols (DCTCP, Infiniband, CEE, etc.)
  • End host architectures (U-Net, RDMA, Netmap, etc.)
  • Server and network virtualization
  • Software defined networking
  • Applications and application traffic


The course consists of lectures, exercises, and a written examination. The end of semester exam will be 2 hours, with no supporting material allowed. The final assessment will be a combination of exercises and examination grades. The exam will account for 80% of the final grade, and the two programming assignments for 20%.


Course Hours

  • Lectures: Tue 13-15h, CAB G 51
  • Exercises: Thu 14-16h, CAB G 52

Additional material


Lecture Date Topic Materials
L1  23.02  Network design principles I   Slides
L2  01.03  Network design principles II  Slides
L3  08.03   Data centre traffic patterns  Slides
L4  15.03   Data centre topologies I  Slides
L5  22.03   Data centre topologies II Slides
L6  05.04  Server Virtualization Slides
L7  12.04 Software Defined Networking Slides VN
Slides SDN 
L8 19.04  Data Center TCP Slides 
L9  26.04  Lossless Protocols Slides
L10  03.05  Endpoint Optimizations Slides 
L11  10.05 Network Function Virtualization  Slides 
L13  17.05 Load balancing   Slides
L14  24.05 Application empowerment   Slides
L15  31.05     



Week no. Assign. Date Topic Materials
1 A1 25.02 Network Principles A1-pdf A1-slides A1-solution
2 A2 03.03 Fundamentals and principles A2-pdf A2-slides A2-solution
3 A3 10.03 Data Center Applications & Traffic A3-pdf A3-slides A3-solution
4 A4 17.03  Data Center Topologies A4-pdf A4-slides A4-solution
5  A5  24.03 Addressing & Routing  A5-pdf A5-slides A5-solution
6  A6 07.04  Server Virtualization A6-pdf A6-slides A6-solution
7  P1 14.04 Software Defined Networking A7-pdf A7-slides
 9  P1 21.04   A7W2-slides
10 P1 28.04   --
 11  - 05.05 no exercise (Ascension, public holiday)  --
 12  P1/P2 12.05  RDMA programming A8-pdf A8-handout A8-VM (from ETH network only)
 13  P2 19.05    
14  P2  26.05    
15  P2 02.06    


Reading list

Lecture 1

  • You Don't Know Jack about Network Performance. Kevin Fall, Steve McCanne. ACM Queue. [link]
  • Improving performance on the internet. Tom Leighton. ACM Communications. [link]
  • On the Naming and Binding of Network Destinations. Jerome Saltzer. [link]

Lecture 2 

  • The Design Philosopy of the DARPA Internet Protocol. David Clark. [link]
  • End-to-End Arguments in System Design. Jerome Saltzer, David Reed, David Clark. [link]
  • A Model, Analysis and Protocol Framework for Soft-State based Communication. Suchitra Raman, Steven McCanne. [link]
  • Transmission Control Protocol Specification. Jon Postel. [link]
  • Cross-Layer Visibility as a Service. R.R. Kompella, A. Greenberg, J. Rexford, A.C Snoeren, J. Yates. [link]

Lecture 3

  • Inside the Social Network’s (Datacenter) Network. A. Roy, et al. [link]
  • Sections 1 and 2 of: Jupiter Rising: A Decade of Clos Topologies and Centralized Control in Google’s Datacenter Network. A. Singh, et al. [link]
  • Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 of: The Nature of Datacenter Traffic: Measurements & Analysis. S. Kandula, et al. [link]

 Lecture 4

  • A Scalable, Commodity Data Center Network Architecture. M. Al-Fares, A. Loukissas, A. Vahdat [link]
  • Jellyfish: Networking Data Centers Randomly. A. Singla, C. Hong, L. Popa, P. B. Godfrey. [link]
  • Optional: Augmenting Data Center Networks with Multi-Gigabit Wireless Links. D. Halperin, et al. [link]
  • Optional: Slim Fly: A Cost Effective Low-Diameter Network Topology. M. Besta, T. Hoefler. [link]

Lecture 5

  • VL2: A Scalable and Flexible Data Center Network. A. Greenberg, et al. [link]
  • CONGA: Distributed Congestion-Aware Load Balancing for Datacenters. M. Alizadeh, et al. [link]
  • Use of BGP for routing in large-scale data centers. P. Lapukhov, et al. [link]
  • Optional: B4: Experience with a Globally-Deployed Software Defined WAN. S. Jain, et al. [link]
  • Optional: PortLand: A Scalable Fault-Tolerant Layer 2 Data Center Network Fabric. R. Niranjan Mysore, et al. [link]
  • Optional: Achieving High Utilization with Software-Driven WAN. C. Hong, et al. [link]

Lecture 6

  • I/O Virtualization. ACM Queue. [link]
  • kvm: the linux virtual machine monitor. [link]
  • virti-io: towards a de-facto standard for virtual I/O devices. [link]

Lecture 7

  • Open vSwitch [link]
  • Implementation Challenges for Software-Defined Networks [link]

Lecture 8

  • Safe and effective fine-grained TCP retransmissions for datacenter communication. [link]
  • Better never than late: meeting deadlines in datacenter networks. [link]
  • Deadline-aware datacenter TCP. [link]
  • Data Center TCP (DCTCP). [link]
  • Improving Data Center Performance and Robustness with Multipath TCP. [link]
  • Design, Implementation and Evaluation of Multipath TCP. [link]

Lecture 10

  • U-Net: a user-level network interface for parallel and distributed computing [link]
  • TCP offload is a dumb idea whose time has come [link]

Lecture 11

  • Research Directions in Network Service Chaining [link]
  • Languages for Software-Defined Network [link]
  • FlowVisor: A Network Virtualization Layer [link]

Lecture 12

 Lecture 13

  • Fastpass: A Centralized “Zero-Queue” Datacenter Network [link]
  • Enabling End-host Network Functions [link]