Course Description:

This course covers the design and implementation of distributed systems. Students will gain an understanding of the principles and techniques behind the design of modern, reliable, and high-performance distributed systems.

Topics include server design, network programming, naming, concurrency and locking, consistency models and techniques, security, and fault tolerance. Modern techniques and systems employed at some of the largest Internet sites (e.g., Google, Facebook, Amazon) will also be covered.

Through programming assignments, students will gain practical experience designing, implementing, and debugging real distributed systems.

Prerequisites: COS 217 required. COS 316, COS 333, COS 318, and/or programming maturity recommended.


  • Lecture: Mondays and Wednesday, 10:00am - 10:50am. McCosh 46.
  • Precepts:
  • Instructors:
    • Professors: Michael J. Freedman and Wyatt Lloyd
      • Prof. Lloyd office hours: Following lecture in McCosh 48 on days he teaches until 12.
    • TAs: Samuel Ginzburg, Ashwini Raina, Oleg Golev, Yinwei Dai, Jianan Lu, Leon Schuermann
    • Lab TA: Pranav Thatte
      • TA and LabTA Office Hours are listed here
  • Grading: midterm (25%), final (25%), programming assignments (50%)
  • Questions: Always use the class EdStem site


There are no textbooks for this class. All materials will be covered in lecture, which students are strongly recommended to attend. There are several books that might be useful, however, all of which are on reserve at the Engineering Library:

  • The Go Programming Language. Alan A. A. Donovan and Brian W. Kernighan. Web page
  • Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms. Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Maaten Van Steen. Amazon link
  • Guide to Reliable Distributed Systems. Kenneth P. Birman. Amazon link