Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

This is a first class on the fundamentals of data communication networks, their architecture, principles of operations, and performance analyses. One goal will be to give some insight into the rationale of why networks are structured the way they are today and to understand the issues facing the designers of next-generation data networks. Much of the class will focus on network algorithms and their performance. Students are expected to have a strong mathematical background and an understanding of probability theory (6.041 is a pre-requisite). Topics discussed will include: layered network architecture, Link Layer protocols, high-speed packet switching, queueing theory, Local Area Networks, and Wide Area Networking issues including routing and flow control.

Requirements & Grading

About one problem set per week (10% of grade)
Project (5% of grade)
Midterm exam (35 %)
Final Exam during finals week (50%)


6.041 or an equivalent class in probability. This is important because from the beginning we assume solid knowledge of material from 6.041. Our experience in the past has been that those students with insufficient background fared poorly in 6.263 and did not benefit from the class. As mentioned in class, 6.263 is focused on probabilistic modeling and analysis of protocols, and on queueing theory, both of which heavily rely upon the prerequisite. In particular, classes in signal processing, previous classes in networking, or having taken 18.05, 15.066J, 6.042, DO NOT satisfy the prerequisite. Furthermore, taking 6.041 simultaneously with 6.263 is not sufficient.


Bertsekas, Dimitri, and Robert Gallager. Data Networks (2nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991. ISBN: 0132009161.

Supplementary Texts & References

Peterson and Davie. Computer Networks (2nd Edition). San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1999. ISBN: 1558605142 .

Walrand and Varaiya. High Performance Communication Networks. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1996. ISBN: 1558603417.

Tanenbaum, A. S. Computer Networks. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN: 0130661023.

Stevens. TCP/IP Illustrated. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., c1994-c1996. ISBN: 0201633469.

Kleinrock, Leonard. Queueing Systems, Vol 1: Theory. New York, NY: Wiley J., 1975. ISBN: 0471491101.


Since the class is primarily focused on the theory behind data networks, the purpose of the project is to introduce you to state of the art technology. You will be asked to select a particular technology that is of interest to you and study the state of the art in that technology area. At the end of the term, you will have to submit a brief written report, and (perhaps) give a 15 minutes oral presentation on that technology. More information about the project will follow soon.