University of Minnesota
Introduction to Distributed Systems
Course Work

The course work consists of a combination of written homework assignments (15% of the grade),  programming projects (45%), and exams (40%). .

Homework Assignments

There will be 3 written homework assignments (each worth 5% of the overall grade). The assignments will be due in
a week's time at the beginning of the class on the due date. The assignments would be based on the concepts covered in the lectures and the textbook/reading materials.

Programming Projects

There will be 3 programming projects (each worth 15% of the total grade). Each of these projects will be due in about 2 weeks time. You will be required to submit your code online along with a report, README file, makefile, and any other files as specified by the due date/time specified. The online submission must be done through the course Canvas site. Detailed submission instructions will be provided along with the project specifications.

For each project,
you will be provided with certain system specifications, which you will be required to implement, and then test and evaluate this implementation. These projects will require you to apply the concepts (mechanisms/algorithms, etc.) that you learn in the course and the goal will be to expose you to the systems issues and tradeoffs in a real implementation, and also familiarize you with programming in a distributed systems environment.

We strongly encourage you to work in teams of two for the programming projects, however, you can work alone if you prefer.

Late Submission Policy: There will be a 10% penalty assessed on submissions that are submitted late but less than 24 hrs
after the deadline, and an additional 30% for each additional day that the submission is late. This policy will help you to get partial credit even if you could not get your project working completely on time, but if you feel spending a little more time will help.
Note: This policy is open to modification (e.g., because of due date extension, dependency between multiple assignments, time constraints, etc.). Any modification to the policy will be announced.


There will be 1 mid-term exam and 1 final exam. The mid-term exam will be worth 15% of the grade, while the final will be worth 25% of the grade. The exams will be held in-class: the mid-term during regular class hours, and the final during the finals week at the assigned time. While the mid-term exam will cover the material covered over the previous 5-6 weeks, the final will be comprehensive and include all material covered in the course. Electronic devices and sharing of material is not allowed during the exams.

If you must miss an exam, notify the instructor before the exam. Acceptable excuses are limited to serious health or personal problems, religious needs, or substantial participation in University sanctioned student events. In the absence of a valid reason or without prior approval, no makeup exams will be allowed.

Class videos and Discussion forum

The taped lectures will be available immediately to UNITE students, and with a 10-day delay to on-campus students. So the on-campus students should attempt to attend the lectures to avoid falling behind on the course material. All preceding lectures will be made available to everyone about a week before the exams.

A discussion forum will be available via the Canvas site where students can post questions and discuss topics related to the class. The forum should be used appropriately, so that the postings must be relevant to the class, must not ask for or give information that could be considered cheating, and must be respectful. We would encourage you to post questions to the forum only after making an attempt to find a solution yourself first. Students are encouraged to respond to others if they can. The instructor and the TA will also monitor the forum regularly and respond as needed.


You will also be assigned readings from the textbook and additional material each week related to the topic being covered in the lectures.  You should plan on spending additional time outside the lecture to go through the reading material. Note that while the lectures will introduce the concepts, you must use the readings to get an in-depth understanding of the material.

Academic Conduct and Dishonesty

This class will be conducted according to the Departmental Academic Conduct Policies. This document lays out the general expectations from students and explains the kind of behavior that would be considered scholastic dishonesty. All students must read this document. In addition, for this class, please keep the following in mind:

Written homework assignments must be done individually (not with your programming assignment partners or anyone else). You should not discuss solutions with others, and all your answers must be original (i.e., not copied from the textbook or other sources, such as the Web or from any other student) and must be written by you.

Programming projects are to be done within your teams. You may ask for clarifications from others on or off the class forum, and with Professor Chandra or with the TA. You must not provide or accept other assistance on the assignments. In particular, you are not to share code or project reports with other students outside your team. All the code must be original and should not be taken or derived from the Web or other sources, including from students who have taken this course in the past.

Providing or receiving information about exams from students in your class or from students who have taken another version of the same exam (for example, if you must take a makeup exam), or use of any unauthorized material during the exams, is cheating.

All instances of academic dishonesty will be dealt with in accordance with University policies. Note that in all instances of cheating, the student(s) providing as well as receiving unauthorized help will be considered to be equally culpable.

If you are ever doubtful about what may or may not be considered academic dishonesty, please do not hesitate to ask the instructor.

Disability and Mental Health Statement

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. Disability Services (DS) is the campus office that collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations.

If you have, or think you may have, a disability (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical), please contact DS at 612-626-1333 to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.

If you are registered with DS and have a current letter requesting reasonable accommodations, we encourage you to contact your instructor early in the semester to review how the accommodations will be applied in the course.

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating, and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via

Guidelines for Off-Campus (UNITE) Students

Off-campus students can submit the written assignments and hard copies of programming assignments through their local UNITE coordinator, or mail/fax it in to the UNITE Office. Detailed instructions are here. It is important that you hand in these things in time so that they get timestamped with the correct date/time. Note that the deadlines would be the same for both on-campus and off-campus students.

The off-campus students can decide to come in for the in-class exam or arrange with their local site coordinator. You must let the instructor know in advance what you plan to do.

More information about UNITE mechanics are available here.