This page is for a past semester (s15) and is for archival purposes only

Mobile Systems Engineering (CSE 4340 / CSE 5349 [Special Topics in Networking])

University of Texas at Arlington

Computer Science and Engineering


Taylor Johnson

Email Address: (replace firstname with Taylor and lastname with Johnson and note there is no mavs subdomain)

Office Number:

Engineering Research Building 559

Office Telephone Number:


Section Information:

CSE 4340-001 and CSE 5349-001, Spring 2015 (28822 and 28823)

Course Website:

Time and Place of Class Meetings:

Tuesdays/Thursdays 3:30pm-4:50pm, Nedderman Hall 202 (NH 202); (note: old room until Feb. 17 was NH 106, all future classes are in NH 202)

Office Hours:

ERB559, Tuesdays/Thursdays 9:30am-10:30am and by appointment (email me to schedule)

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA):

Nathan Hervey

Graduate Teaching Assistant Email Address:

Graduate Teaching Assistant Office Hours:

Mondays / Wednesday 1:00pm-2:30pm, ERB 562

Course Schedule (Syllabus; note that all information appearing on this website supersedes that appearing in the syllabus PDF, that is, the website is more up-to-date):

The instructor for this course reserves the right to adjust this schedule in any way that serves the educational needs of the students enrolled in this course. All assignment dates are approximate at this point and will be updated on this website as the semester progresses. All readings refer to the Coulouris, Dollimore, Kindberg, and Blair recommended textbook unless otherwise noted.
Date Content Resources / Readings Assignments
1/20 Introduction and Course Overview: What are mobile systems? (First Day of Classes)
1/22 Network / Graph Theory Chapters 1, 2, and 3 Homework 1 Assigned (files on BlackBoard)
1/27 Network / Graph Theory Chapters 1, 2, and 3
1/29 Networking and Routing Chapters 1, 2, and 3
2/3 Modeling Distributed Systems: Concurrency, Shared Memory vs. Message Passing, Synchrony vs. Asynchrony; Extended State Machines and Transition Systems Chapters 1, 2, and 3 Homework 1 Due; Homework 2 Assigned (files on BlackBoard)
2/5 Time and Ordering Events in Distributed Systems Chapter 14
2/10 Time and Ordering Events in Distributed Systems: Lamport Clocks Chapter 14
2/12 Time and Ordering Events in Distributed Systems: Vector Clocks Chapter 14 Homework 2 Due; Homework 3 Assigned (files on BlackBoard)
2/17 Global States and Cuts Chapter 14
2/19 Global States, Cuts, and Time/Clock Synchronization Chapter 14
2/24 No Class (University Closed for Bad Weather)
2/26 Distributed Snapshots and Predicate Detection, Chandy-Lamport Algorithm Distributed Snapshots: Determining Global States of Distributed Systems Homework 4 Assigned (files on BlackBoard)
3/3 Safety and Liveness: Overview and Relationship of Fundamental Problems (Mutual Exclusion, Leader Election, Consensus, etc.) Homework 3 Due (Extended from earlier deadline of 2/26 due to university closure)
3/5 No Class (University Closed for Bad Weather) Homework 4 Due; Programming Assignment 1 Assigned
3/10 No classes, spring break
3/12 No classes, spring break
3/17 No Class (Instructor Traveling) Chapters 1 and 2 of Zimmerman 2012
3/19 StarL and Project Discussion Chapter 3 of Zimmerman 2012
3/24 StarL Code Discussion Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Zimmerman 2012
3/26 No Class: Work Day for Programming Assignment 1 Programming Assignment 1 Due; Programming Assignment 2 Assigned
3/31 Programming Assignment 2 Discussion
4/2 Distributed Algorithms for Physical Systems (Flocking, Iterative Consensus, Averaging)
4/7 Self-stabilization Arora, A.; Gouda, M., "Closure and convergence: a foundation of fault-tolerant computing," Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on , vol.19, no.11, pp.1015,1027, Nov 1993
4/9 Final Project Discussion
4/14 No Class (Instructor Traveling)
4/16 No Class (Instructor Traveling) Programming Assignment 2 Due; Final Project Assigned
4/21 Consensus, Replication Control, Paxos, and Raft Raft website; Raft visualization; Paxos made simple
4/23 Programming Assignment 1 Recap, Final Project Strategies, Path Planning with RRTs LaValle: Planning Algorithms, Chapter 5, especially section 5.5 on RRTs
4/28 Path Planning with RRTs LaValle: Planning Algorithms, Chapter 5, especially section 5.5 on RRTs
4/30 Traveling Salesman Problem and Final Project Strategies/Help
5/5 Final Project Strategies and Help
5/7 Course Wrap-Up and Final Project Competition Rules (Last Class) Final Project Due
5/8 Semester Last Day of Classes
5/14, 2pm-4:30pm Final Project Competition (Scheduled Final Exam Time)

Required Textbook and Other Course Materials:

  • StarL Github Repository: Stabilizing Robotics Programming Language. Our projects in this course will use StarL, a Java/Android-based programming environment for distributed/swarm robotics applications. More information on StarL is available at Illinois.
  • Shiviz: tool to visualize executions of distributed systems, such as StarL

Optional Textbooks and Additional References:

Description of Course Content:

Mobile devices including hand-held computers, sensor nodes and smart phones, operating systems, middleware and communication in mobile environments. Applications of mobile systems in health, entertainment, security and other areas.


All students are expected to have basic knowledge of networking since CSE 4344, Computer Network Organization, is required as a co-requisite or prerequisite for this course. Students are expected to have taken CSE 2320 Algorithms and Data Structures and CSE 3320 Operating Systems so as to be proficient with elementary computer science theory (discrete math, algorithms, graphs, etc.), discrete mathematics, and systems. Students are expected to have working experiences with software development, including software version control systems such as Git, Mercurial, and Subversion.

Student Learning Outcomes:

The objective of this course is to introduce upper-level undergraduate and beginning graduate computer science and engineering students to the modeling, analysis, engineering, and theory of mobile systems, such as mobile phones, vehicular networks, sensor networks, robotic networks, and other form of wirelessly networked computer devices that have mobility. At course conclusion, students should be able to:
  • Define network components of mobile systems, such as wireless network interfaces, network protocols, network layers etc.
  • Understand, model, and analyze concurrent computation in a single computer and between networked computers.
  • Understand canonical problems and solutions in distributed systems, such as time and ordering of events, clock synchronization, mutual exclusion, leader election, consensus, self-stabilization, failure detectors, etc.
  • Analyze computational tradeoffs for problems and solutions, such as time (round, etc.) complexity, message complexity, etc.>
  • Develop problem-solving abstractions for implementing programming solutions for mobile systems.

Descriptions of major assignments and examinations:

Coursework for roughly the first half of the course will study mobile systems from a distributed systems and networking perspective. The second half of the course will include fewer homework assignments, but several programming assignments for mobile systems, and a final exam. Online and in-class quizzes and discussions will make up a portion of the grade. Approximate due dates of assignments are shown in the course schedule.


At The University of Texas at Arlington, taking attendance is not required. Rather, each faculty member is free to develop his or her own methods of evaluating students' academic performance, which includes establishing course-specific policies on attendance. As the instructor of this section, students are strongly encouraged to attend lectures (particularly due to some graded in class quizzes), come to office hours, and make use of all available educational resources.

Other Requirements:

Exams will be closed book, but students will be allowed to bring a two-sided sheet of letter-size paper. Students are expected to check the course website for updates to the course schedule throughout the semester.


Grade percentages will be calculated based on the following weights:
  • Homework and Programming Assignments: 50%
  • Course Project: 20%
  • Quizzes and Participation: 10%
  • Final Exam: 20%
Letter grades will be determined based on the following ranges:
  • 100 >= A >= 90
  • 90 > B >= 80
  • 80 > C >= 70
  • 70 > D >= 60
  • 60 > F >= 0
The instructor reserves the right to move the thresholds down based on the distribution of final percentages, but they will not move up (e.g., if a grade percentage is between 90 and 100, this will receive an A). Students are expected to keep track of their performance throughout the semester and seek guidance from available sources (including the instructor) if their performance drops below satisfactory levels.

Make-Up Assignments, Exams, and Late Assignment Submission:

If you miss an exam or quiz due to unavoidable circumstances (e.g., health), you must notify the instructor in writing via email as soon as possible and request a makeup approval. If it is a planned (non-emergency) abcense, you must inform the instructor ahead of time! Do NOT ask for make-ups if you do not complete something due to travel (except when you are required to travel to represent the university or department on official business, but request at least 3 days ahead of the due date or exam time). If you submit an assignment late, it will have points taken off at a rate of 33% per day.

Grade Grievances:

Any appeal of a grade in this course must follow the procedures and deadlines for grade-related grievances as published in the current undergraduate catalog (see here).

The first step is as follows. If you do not believe a grade on a particular assignment is correct, you may appeal the grade in writing (by email) within 5 days. Grade appeals must be appealed to the appropriate GTA first, then to the instructor if necessary.

Drop Policy:

Students may drop or swap (adding and dropping a class concurrently) classes through self-service in MyMav from the beginning of the registration period through the late registration period. After the late registration period, students must see their academic advisor to drop a class or withdraw. Undeclared students must see an advisor in the University Advising Center. Drops can continue through a point two-thirds of the way through the term or session. It is the student's responsibility to officially withdraw if they do not plan to attend after registering. Students will not be automatically dropped for non-attendance. Repayment of certain types of financial aid administered through the University may be required as the result of dropping classes or withdrawing. For more information, contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Americans with Disabilities Act:

The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of all federal equal opportunity legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All instructors at UT Arlington are required by law to provide "reasonable accommodations" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Any student requiring an accommodation for this course must provide the instructor with official documentation in the form of a letter certified by the staff in the Office for Students with Disabilities, University Hall 102. Only those students who have officially documented a need for an accommodation will have their request honored. Information regarding diagnostic criteria and policies for obtaining disability-based academic accommodations can be found here or by calling the Office for Students with Disabilities at 817-272-3364.

Title IX:

The University of Texas at Arlington is committed to upholding U.S. Federal Law "Title IX" such that no member of the UT Arlington community shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity. For more information, visit

Academic Integrity:

Students enrolled in this course are expected to adhere to the UT Arlington Honor Code: "I pledge, on my honor, to uphold UT Arlington's tradition of academic integrity, a tradition that values hard work and honest effort in the pursuit of academic excellence. I promise that I will submit only work that I personally create or contribute to group collaborations, and I will appropriately reference any work from other sources. I will follow the highest standards of integrity and uphold the spirit of the Honor Code." UT Arlington faculty members may employ the Honor Code as they see fit in their courses, including (but not limited to) having students acknowledge the honor code as part of an examination or requiring students to incorporate the honor code into any work submitted. Per UT System Regents' Rule 50101, Section 2.2, suspected violations of university's standards for academic integrity (including the Honor Code) will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. Violators will be disciplined in accordance with University policy, which may result in the student's suspension or expulsion from the University.

Academic Integrity Violations, Cheating, Plagiarism, Disallowed Collaboration, and Consequences:

The instructor makes use of standard cheating detection tools including and not limited to text comparison of homework, source code, etc., the Moss software plagiarism detection tool, and others. If the instructor suspects cheating, plagiarism, disallowed collaboration, etc., the instructor will submit the violations and evidence without exception to the university according to university policy. For your information, you should be aware of the types of suspected cheating and their consequences, which include: failing the course, failing the assignment, and possible further consequences including expulsion, loss of scholarships / funding, etc..

Electronic Communication:

UT Arlington has adopted MavMail as its official means to communicate with students about important deadlines and events, as well as to transact university-related business regarding financial aid, tuition, grades, graduation, etc. All students are assigned a MavMail account and are responsible for checking the inbox regularly. There is no additional charge to students for using this account, which remains active even after graduation. Information about activating and using MavMail is available here.

Student Feedback Survey:

At the end of each term, students enrolled in classes categorized as "lecture," "seminar," or "laboratory" shall be directed to complete an online Student Feedback Survey (SFS). Instructions on how to access the SFS for this course will be sent directly to each student through MavMail approximately 10 days before the end of the term. Each student's feedback enters the SFS database anonymously and is aggregated with that of other students enrolled in the course. UT Arlington's effort to solicit, gather, tabulate, and publish student feedback is required by state law; students are strongly urged to participate. For more information, visit here.

Final Review Week:

A period of five class days prior to the first day of final examinations in the long sessions shall be designated as Final Review Week. The purpose of this week is to allow students sufficient time to prepare for final examinations. During this week, there shall be no scheduled activities such as required field trips or performances; and no instructor shall assign any themes, research problems or exercises of similar scope that have a completion date during or following this week unless specified in the class syllabus. During Final Review Week, an instructor shall not give any examinations constituting 10% or more of the final grade, except makeup tests and laboratory examinations. In addition, no instructor shall give any portion of the final examination during Final Review Week. During this week, classes are held as scheduled. In addition, instructors are not required to limit content to topics that have been previously covered; they may introduce new concepts as appropriate.

Emergency Exit Procedures:

Should we experience an emergency event that requires us to vacate the building, students should exit the room and move toward the nearest exit, which is located to the east side of Nedderman Hall. When exiting the building during an emergency, one should never take an elevator but should use the stairwells. Faculty members and instructional staff will assist students in selecting the safest route for evacuation and will make arrangements to assist handicapped individuals.

Student Support Services:

UT Arlington provides a variety of resources and programs designed to help students develop academic skills, deal with personal situations, and better understand concepts and information related to their courses. Resources include tutoring, major-based learning centers, developmental education, advising and mentoring, personal counseling, and federally funded programs. For individualized referrals, students may visit the reception desk at University College (Ransom Hall), call the Maverick Resource Hotline at 817-272-6107, send a message to, or view the information at

Emergency Phone Numbers:

In case of an on-campus emergency, call the UT Arlington Police Department at 817-272-3003 (non-campus phone), 2-3003 (campus phone). You may also dial 911.

Last modified:

August 21, 2015 15:51:40.