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


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 a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Buffalo.