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Department of Informatics - Communication Systems Group

3041 - 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 (Starting February 23rd, 2021)
Exercises: Thursdays 14:00-15:45
Location: Lecture: Online | Exercises: Online
Exam: June 8, 2021 at 12.15 hours
Remote Class


Remote Exercises


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


This class will be held on-line. A Webex (videoconferencing tool) link will be shared for the class by e-mail to those students, who did register formally by February 19, 2021, before 10.00 hours, with the UZH module booking tool. The Webex client could be downloaded here. The exercise classes will follow the same organization and use the same link provided to all students, who have had registered.


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 2021.


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.