Distributed Systems

UB Catalog information for CSE 486 , CSE 586

This information is advisory only. The authoritative course description and requirements for a given semester are defined by the course syllabus.


This course is a cross-listed graduate/undergraduate course titled Distributed Systems for undergraduate students and Large-Scale Distributed Systems for graduate students. Both versions of the course are project-heavy.


Spring 2018, Spring 2021

Current Offering: Spring 2018

Lecture MWF 13:00-13:50, Cooke 121
Office Hours M 10:00-11:00
W 14:30-15:30
TA Office Hours M 16:00-17:00 (Subhadeep)
Tu 11:00-12:00 (Ali)
W 12:00-13:00 (Asif)
Th 12:00-13:00 (all)


The course syllabus is here.


Introduction 2018-01-29
The Internet in Two Lectures: Part 1 2018-01-31
The Internet in Two Lectures: Part 2 2018-02-02
Android Architecture and Development: Part 1 2018-02-05
Android Architecture and Development: Part 2 2018-02-07
Android Architecture and Development: Part 3 2018-02-09
Failure Detectors 2018-02-12
Time and Synchronization 2018-02-14
Logical Time 2018-02-16
Global States 2018-02-19
Reliable Multicast (Part 1) 2018-02-21
Reliable Multicast (Part 2) (ISIS Slide) (pdf) (odp) 2018-02-23
Reliable Multicast (Part 2 concluded) 2018-02-25
Gossiping 2018-02-28
No classes — Snow day! 2018-03-02
Peer-to-Peer Architectures 2018-03-05
Peer-to-Peer Architectures (finished) 2018-03-07
Distributed Hash Tables (pdf) (odp) 2018-03-09
Mid-Semester Review 2018-03-12
Midterm Exam 2018-03-14
Software Development for Coursework 2018-03-16
Spring Break 2018-03-19
Spring Break 2018-03-21
Spring Break 2018-03-23
Consensus 2018-03-26
Mutual Exclusion (pdf) (odp) 2018-03-28
Leader Election (pdf) (odp) 2018-03-30
Paxos (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-02
Finish, Paxos; Project 3 advice 2018-04-04
Concurrency Control (part 1) (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-06
Concurrency Control (part 2) (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-09
Concurrency Control (part 3) (pdf) 2018-04-11
Consistency (part 1) (pdf) 2018-04-13
Consistency (part 2) (pdf) 2018-04-16
Consistency (finish), Amazon Dynamo (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-18
Finish Dynamo 2018-04-19
The Domain Name System (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-23
Content Distribution Networks (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-25
Facebook Haystack and f4 (pdf) (odp) 2018-04-27
Distributed Filesystems (pdf) 2018-04-30
Remote Procedure Calls (pdf) (odp) 2018-05-02
Security (part 1) (pdf) 2018-05-07
Security (part 2) (pdf) 2018-05-09
Course Conclusion (pdf) 2018-05-11


Academic Integrity Quiz 2018-02-09 23:59:00 (extended)
Programming Assignment 1 2018-02-09 23:59:00 (extended)
Programming Assignment 2A 2018-02-23 11:59:00
Programming Assignment 2B 2018-03-12 11:59:00 (extended)
Programming Assignment 3 2018-04-13 11:59:00
Programming Assignment 4 2018-05-11 11:59:00


Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of data structures and algorithms, Internet architecture and networking (including the TCP/IP protocol suite), and operating systems. In addition, students are expected to have done some systems programming (e.g., using threads and sockets). Students must either know Java or be capable of picking it up rapidly.


The text for this course is Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design, Fifth Edition, by Coulouris, Dollimore, Kindberg, and Blair.

Course Structure

This is a project-heavy course. Students will be expected to implement several nontrivial applications on the Android platform. Projects will make up at least 50% of the final course grade, with the remainder being quizzes and midterm and final exams.

There are no graded homeworks for this course. Homeworks may be assigned to help students understand the material, and any material covered in homeworks may appear on exams or quizzes.

There are no scheduled quizzes for this course. In-class quizzes may be assigned as-needed at the instructor’s discretion.

Programming Assignments

All projects for this course must be buildable using gradle under Android Studio 3.0.1, and target Android SDK version 19. (SDK versions 23 and above use a fine-grained permission structure that makes automated testing more difficult for our purposes, and newer SDKs are much more resource-heavy in the emulator.) The provided starting code will meet these requirements.

See Android Programming Assignments for additional guidelines on implementing the programming assignments for this course.

Ethan Blanton
Assistant Professor of Teaching

Ethan Blanton is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Buffalo.