CSC 397 Grinnell College Spring, 2005
Group Independent Study: Topics in Computer Networks

Study Proposal Instructor Grading Schedule


This Group-Independent-Study Project will consider both conceptual and practical elements of computer networking, following a lab-based format. Participants include three Computer Science Majors and one Physics Major who are juniors and seniors, under the guidance of faculty member Henry Walker.

Elements of this Group-Independent-Study Proposal

The following sections provide much of the information required for a Group-Independent-Study proposal.


This Group-Independent-Study project will consider a wide range of advanced topics related to computer networks, including the following:

After covering these core areas, students within this Group-Independent-Study project will explore selected topics at a more advanced level. Such topics might include:


This Group-Independent-Study Project is special in at least three ways.

  1. All students are junior or senior Computer Science Majors or Physics Majors, so each has considerably more background and experience than can be assumed in any course in the regular computer-science curriculum. Thus, this work can be done at a significantly higher level of sophistication than is otherwise possible at Grinnell College.

  2. With the experience and maturity of this group, students can take significant initiative in digging into the material. In particular, students will cover much of the material by reading on their own, by making selected oral presentations to the class, and by working through laboratory exercises (both individually and collaboratively).

  3. The group is small enough that students will take responsibility for class meetings, lab activities, and reporting. In this project, the instructor will lead only the first meeting and, perhaps, the last one. Students will be responsible for all other sessions.

Overall, student background, student maturity, and class size will allow students to take charge of this Group-Independent-Study Project in a way that simply is not possible in regular classes.


Work for this Group-Independent-Study Project is expected to proceed in two main phases:

Weeks 1-10: Almost-weekly Laboratory Exercises covering fundamentals of computer networks.

The main approach will be lab based, drawing upon readings for needed background. Labs will highlight five main areas. For each area, the group has identified several potential labs from various sources. It is expected that the group will select one or two of these labs for each main topic.

  1. Computer Networks and the Internet:
  2. Application Layer:
  3. Transport Layer:
  4. Network Layer:
  5. Link Layer:

Weeks 11-14: An extended project, based on the core areas covered earlier.

During the first part of the semester, readings and discussions will raise issues for further study and experimentation. Some possible issues could be related to response times for network services on the Grinnell campus, routings of messages, approaches for the filtering of e-mail, security measures to discourage hacking, and limitations of privacy in using network browsers. During the presentation of materials, students will maintain a list of possible issues, and select a project title by Friday, April 9. Students will investigate their topics, with periodic updates to the group, during the second part of the semester.


The primary textbook for this project is

Laboratory Exercises will draw upon such resources as the following:

Meeting Times

This Group-Independent-Study Project will meet most weeks on Monday and Friday between 12:10 pm and 1:05 pm.


Henry M. Walker

Office: Science 2420
Telephone: extension 4208

Office hours are posted weekly on the bulletin board outside Science 2420, with additional hours possible by appointment. You may reserve a half hour meeting by signing up on the weekly schedule, but please sign up at least a day in advance.


While the schedule for this Group-Independent-Study Project is expected to evolve, a Tentative Class Schedule provides guidance on the preliminary timeline for the readings and labs.


Before the start of the semester, a schedule will be prepared, listing specific labs and due dates. Although the group may discuss adjusting this schedule, it is expected that laboratory writeups will be submitted by specified deadlines (usually weekly).

Similarly, various class meetings will focus on the presentation of material from readings or from labs. Students are expected to be prepared for these presentations, according to the agreed upon schedule.

Exception: Deadlines for labs are automatically extended at least one class day if MathLAN is down for an unscheduled period of 3 or more hours during the week preceding the assignment due date. (In such cases, however, deadlines for presentations are not extended.)

Absolute Deadline: All projects must be turned in by Friday, May 13 at 5:00 pm.


This MAP is centered on laboratory exercises and projects, Thus, about 2/3 of the final grade will be based on the quality of the preliminary projects (weeks 1-10) and the remaining 1/3 of the grade will be based on the evaluation of the final project.

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created December 8, 2004
last revised January 12, 2005
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