CSCI 6433

The Professor 

Dave Roberts
8833 Harness Trail
Potomac, Maryland 20854

home: 301 983-0452

cell:  240 305-8514

email: dave@webmarketingadvantage.com or robertsd@gwu.edu

Email is answered daily.  Use either email address; they both go to the same folder.  Please don’t send email to both addresses.

Course Goals 

The remarkable set of protocols that make up the Internet form the heart of the Internet, possibly the most important technical development in the computer field since the microprocessor. Anyone who seeks a technical career, in hardware or software, needs to have a solid understanding of Internet protocols. The goal of the course is to give you just that understanding of the Internet protocols that are so important today. But even more important for the long haul of your career, we will cover the reasons behind the important decisions that have been made in designing these protocols, so that you’ll be well equipped to understand future developments, not just what’s there today.

At the end of the course, you’ll be able to have a conversation with networking people. They will know more about types of hardware and connectors and such things than you will know, but you will be able to tell them about how all the protocols work together.  You will be able to help them solve problems and they will thank you for your help.

You will also be well-equipped to handle questions that come up in job interviews about Internet protocols, which are a common interview topic.

We will take a high-level view of Internet protocols, that will allow us to take a rather thorough tour of Internet protocols, giving us a good technical view of all of the most important protocols.

Along our journey, we can have a little fun, too.

Course Mechanics

The course will require study every week and homework every week. There will typically be fewer than ten homework problems, and although they will have short answers, they will generally be challenging and will take some time to complete.  Programming will not be required.

There will be a reading assignment, that’s intended to point out worthwhile reading.  You are responsible for reviewing it and making sure that you are familiar with it.

Our focus throughout will always be on “How does it work?” and “Why does it work that way?”  The idea is to understand how each protocol works and why it was designed that way–what was the choice of tradeoffs that was made. The Internet provides an example of great design decisions throughout. Understanding how those basic decisions were made will put you in good shape to understand how the Internet evolves.

You will also get to choose a project topic in Internet protocols that interests you, and write a paper and give a short talk on it at the end of the course. The course goes fast and covers a lot of material, so there are many topics of interest that we don’t have time to talk about in detail. These two classes, when the project presentations are given, can be the most interesting of the whole term, because of the interest each student brings to the topic.


You’ll notice that the syllabus assigns reading for each week.  You’re expected to read that material before class.  You may be asked about your reading during class.  The idea is to read the material, then hear a lecture on it and discuss it, so that when you do homework you are quite familiar with the material.

Mailing List 

There is a class email list that will be used for many purposes.  All the addresses of students enrolled in the course are already on the list.

I get a lot of email every day, and yours is important to me. So that I can find your email in order to deal with it properly, please use these email addresses  for submissions:

exam@csci6433.org for exam questions
project@csci6433.org for project proposals and completed projects


Homework will be assigned weekly on Blackboard, where answers are to be submitted. Limit each answer to fifty words. For ease of grading, please do not include any attachments to your homework. Homework is due at the start of class. Because there is a lot of homework, it’s not practical for you to work on back homework and current homework also, so late homeworks are not accepted.