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Department of Informatics - Communication Systems Group

534 - Blockchains and Overlay Networks

Reader: Prof. Dr. Burkhard Stiller, Dr. Thomas Bocek 
Assistants: Eder ScheidChristian Killer
ECTS Points: 6.0
Target Audience: Recommended for students in the MSc program.
Lectures: Tuesdays 12:15-13:45
Exercises: Thursdays 14:00-15:45
Location: Lecture: BIN 2.A.10 | Exercises: BIN 2.A.10
Exam: Tuesday 02.06.2020
Remote Class

Remote Exercises

  The meetings are password protected. See email for the password or contact the assistants.

Information: The exam view is possible on July 16, 2020 from 10:00-11:00. It will be conducted physically at the IFI. Please send an email to the assistants to schedule an appointment on that date.

As a rule to check the exam, you will have 20 mins to review the exam not being allowed to take notes or pictures during this time.

Information Update

The University and we as lecturers will do everything possible to ensure that you can acquire all your planned credits this semester. All examinations (assessments) will take place at the times determined in the VVZ; you will be informed in good time about the type and procedure. So please plan to be available at the appropriate times (online or onsite, depending on the legal situation). If you belong to a specified risk group, then special rules apply and you can contact the Dean's Office in this case.

Since UZH has asked all lectures at this very moment to select the most appropriate and suitable online teaching tool, the first week, may be the second week from March 16, 2020 onward may see starting problems or technical deficits. These happen due to the unexpected and non-tested use of tools for many attendees, which are now run and applied basically for very many classes at the same time. Based on the expertise of the CSG team, we do try to minimize those problems as soon as possible. Please follow your e-mail addresses you did use for registering with this class to receive up-to-date and most recent information, whenever this may become accessible.


Fully distributed systems, typically termed Peer-to-peer (P2P) systems, seem to be of much more interest these days, especially moving from a pure file sharing use to a more commercial use and application, including blockchains. While the more traditional Client/Server (C/S) system belongs clearly to the distributed system, many new applications tend to prefer in certain cases a P2P-based approach. This lecture on "Peer-to-Peer Systems and Applications" outlines the major technology alternatives of P2P, introduces overlay networks, analyzes key P2P features, checks on implementation and deployability aspects, and investigates on scalability, efficiency, reliability, and commercial applicability. Search schemes, security mechanisms, and wireless use of P2P systems complete the overall P2P view. Based on a number of sample P2P systems the huge potential of them is outlined and applied in a challenge task in practical exercises.


This lecture's goals encompass the gaining of knowledge of principles and protocols in fully decentralized (P2P) communications. While client/server aspects are of importance, the less traditional, but emerging peer-to-peer scheme and its integration into today's Internet is addressed in theory and in a practical challenge task to be designed and implemented. Thus, respective P2P protocol details and system aspects for will be covered, showing potentials as well as problems.


The content of this course include introduction to basic concepts, structured and unstructured P2P systems, including distributed hash tables as important building blocks. Based on these building blocks, properties and mechanisms of distributed systems, its advantages and disadvantages are presented. Topics such as mobile P2P systems applications, Bitcoin, WebRTC, P2P streaming, distributed storage are discussed as well as their technical characteristics and economic aspects.The detailed topics and timing of the lecture is available at Lecture Material.


The lecture on "Communication Systems/Kommunikationssysteme" is required. The knowledge of "Distributed Systems/Verteilte Systeme" is recommended, but not necessary.


Lecture slides and article printouts as needed.


Mandatory Exercises and participation at the Challenge Task 2020.


The infomation contained on this page complements the official page at the "Vorlesungsverzeichnisses (VVZ)". In case of doubt, the official information from the VVZ is always considered valid.


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