CSE 6117, Fall 2014

CSE 6117
Theory of Distributed Computing
Fall 2014

Instructor: Eric Ruppert
Office: Lassonde Building, room 3042
Email: [my last name] @cse.yorku.ca
Telephone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 33979
Facsimile: (416) 736-5872
Lectures: Mondays and Wednesday 11:30-13:00 in room 0009 of the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building
Office Hours: Mondays 13:30-14:30 and Thursdays 14:30-15:30 in my office, or by appointment, or just drop by when I'm in.

Usually, the best way to contact me is by email. Please use your cse account when sending me email, and start your subject line with "[6117]". Send messages in plain text, without attachments.


Course Description

Can a given problem be solved in a distributed system? If so, how efficiently can it be solved? We investigate how the answers to these questions depend on aspects of the underlying distributed system including synchrony, fault-tolerance and the means of communication between processes. A tentative list of topics:

Marking scheme

Homework exercises 80%
Class presentation 20%

The presentation will be a 25-minute talk summarizing the results of a research paper on the theory of distributed computing that you find in the literature. We will have some checkpoints along the way before the presentations. (More information on this to come.) Good places to look for a paper include PODC or DISC conference proceedings or the journal Distributed Computing. This survey paper has a bibliography containing lots of papers that would be suitable to choose. If you have a topic in mind, I might be able to help you find a good paper if you come talk to me.

Important Dates

First class September 8
Thanksgiving (university closed) October 13
Co-curricular days (no lectures) October 29 to November 2
Last class December 3


These will be filled in as the term progresses.
The references below are intended for students who want to read more about the topics discussed in class. Sometimes the readings might be helpful for the assignments. Sometimes they will extend the ideas covered in lectures.


There is no required textbook for the course. However, I shall sometimes recommend readings from books or papers. These references will be listed here, and the list will grow during the term. Accessing some of the links below may require you to be logged into a machine at York, so that you can access the ACM Digital Library, etc.



This list is from the 2011 version of the course, but it gives you an idea of the kinds of topics covered. I'll add and subtract items from the list during the term.

Web Pages

Previous versions of this course: Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011.


Try to keep your answers as simple as possible (but no simpler).

This page was last updated on November 24, 2014